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Beat Some of Autumn's Most Common Ailments

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Fall can bring plenty of opportunities to enjoy seasonal activities and scenic vistas, but they may come with increased health risks. Cold, dry air makes it easier for viruses to thrive, and when people spend more time inside, they make it easier for microorganisms to spread. While most people are probably going to spend more time indoors during these seasons, at least in the northern states, there are some steps you can take to keep your risk of getting sick low.

Flu and You 
Every year, between 5 and 20 percent of people in the U.S. get the flu, and more than 200,000 people can be hospitalized because of its effects, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While many people who get the flu will just be in for a bout of uncomfortable symptoms, the illness can become severe and people die from it every year.

Unfortunately, the flu is not only dangerous but also easy to spread. You can catch the virus simply from being too close to someone who has it, since coughing, sneezing and even talking can spread it through the air. The virus may also live on objects that a person with the flu has touched, waiting for someone else to come along and pick it up. People with the flu can be contagious up to one day before they start showing symptoms and a full week after their symptoms stop.

Common and Contagious 
The common cold is another illness that most people are all too familiar with. Often caused by the rhinovirus, the common cold isn't usually as dangerous as the flu, but it can still cause unpleasant symptoms that keep people who've been infected in bed. Adults get an average of two to four colds per year, while children tend to catch the illness six to eight times, according to the American Lung Association. Much like the flu, the common cold can spread through close contact with people who are already ill, making it difficult to prevent.

Send Viruses Packing 
Although these illnesses are easily spread, you can still take steps to make your home a less inviting environment for them. MIT News recommended frequently washing your hands and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces in your home as the first line of defense. However, viruses also have a harder time surviving in warm, humid environments, so using a humidifier could help reduce the chance of them invading your home. Air purifiers can also help keep your indoor air clean, reducing the number of particles that can exacerbate symptoms, though cold and flu viruses themselves are too small for most filters to catch.