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    Infectious Diseases A-Z: When to skip holiday parties

holiday gathering of family and friends around the dinner table and Christmas tree in the background celebrating
It is the time of year when holiday parties are in abundance, and so are germs and viruses. Use good party etiquette when it comes to coughs, colds or the flu, and know when to stay home.

Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says, "When you are around a lot of people, you’re going to be around some people who are sniffling, and certainly cold viruses can be spread from person to person. People don’t want to miss the holiday festivities and so they may come a little sick, or bring their kids who are a little sick, because no one wants to miss a party. But then, of course, that puts you at risk of giving or getting everyone else’s infection. And so ideally, if you’re not feeling well, try not to go."

Watch: Dr. Pritish Tosh discuss holiday illness.

And, Dr. Tosh reminds you to keep washing your hands and use good respiratory hygiene.

"If you have to cough or sneeze, do it into your elbow rather than into your hands so that we’re really limiting the spread of germs," he says.

Here are some tips on how to ease your flu symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Choose water, juice and warm soups to prevent dehydration.
  • Rest. Get more sleep to help your immune system fight infection.
  • Consider pain relievers. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), to combat the achiness associated with influenza. Don't give aspirin to children or teens because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal condition.

If you have flu symptoms and are at risk of complications, see your health care provider right away. An influenza vaccine shot is your best defense against becoming sick with the flu.

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