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10 everyday items you'll want to keep on hand during cold/flu season

We’re deep into cold and flu season. You may know several people who’ve already had one or both, or have had it yourself. Unlike other illnesses, such as infections, these don’t have cures. There are only medications that treat the symptoms, not to mention a handful of items that can make your bed rest a little more comfortable.

Or you could try to avoid getting sick by wearing medical-grade masks in public and getting your yearly flu shot. It’s never too late.

In this article: Kleenex Facial Tissues, Vicks Dayquil and Nyquil Combo Pack and Lipton Cup-A-Soup 12-Pack.

When is cold and flu season?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu season begins in October, with major spikes of infection from December through March, before petering out in April and May.

However, this doesn’t mean you can only get the flu during these times. You can actually catch it year-round. It only becomes more likely during the season.

The essentials

There are 10 essential items to ensure you have on hand if the sickness strikes you.

  • COVID-19 test: The fact is, COVID-19 is still dangerous. Vaccinations and antibodies from prior infections have helped lessen those dangers for many, but it remains deadlier than colds or flu. Since it has many of the same symptoms, you should always take a COVID-19 test if they start, and quarantine if the test is positive.
  • Surface-disinfecting gear: If you share your home with others, keep disinfecting gear on hand to lessen the chances of germs spreading across your household. The easiest disinfecting items to use are sprays and wipes.
  • Hand sanitizer: Keeping hand sanitizer on deck also lowers the chances of cross-household infection.
  • Masks: If you have to venture outside of your home while sick, it’s your obligation to take every step toward preventing the spread of your sickness. Correctly wearing a medical-grade mask, meaning your nose and mouth are covered, greatly decreases the chances of spreading what you have.
  • Tissues: Arguably the worst symptom of colds and cases of flu is the stopped-up, runny nose. The only thing you can do about it is to keep boxes and boxes of tissues on hand.
  • Humidifier: Constantly blowing your stopped-up nose is miserable enough as it is, but once the skin around your nose starts to get dry, it only gets worse. Humidifiers help keep your skin moistened and can also help break up the mucus in your nose and throat.
  • Medication: There is an almost uncountable range of medications you can take that help treat the symptoms of colds and cases of flu. They come in the form of pills, liquids, nasal sprays and throat lozenges.
  • Pulse oximeter: If your immune response is poor and colds, flu and especially COVID-19 can easily prove deadly for you, you must keep a pulse oximeter on hand. These devices read your blood oxygen level. If it ever drops below 95%, call your doctor.
  • Thermometer: If your immune response is strong, you can get away with just a standard thermometer. According to the Mayo Clinic, “normal” body temperature ranges between 97 and 99 degrees, with fevers being diagnosed starting in the upper 99s. There’s no need to go to a doctor unless your fever is above 103 degrees or is combined with other life-threatening symptoms.
  • Soup: You must keep your strength up during a bout of illness, even though it can be hard and miserable to try to eat. Keeping canned or boxed soups on hand is the easiest way to accomplish this.

Best items for cold and flu season

iHealth COVID-19 Tests

This two-pack of tests is approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration and delivers results in just 15 minutes. They’re easy to use and are noninvasive.

Sold by Amazon

Solimo Disinfecting Wipes

This bulk pack includes three canisters of wipes, with each canister holding 75 wipes. Two canisters have a lemon scent while the other is “fresh.”

Sold by Amazon

Purell Hand Sanitizer

This giant bottle of hand sanitizer contains 2 liters and has an easy-to-use pump dispenser. Keep it by your front door to disinfect when entering and leaving your home.

Sold by Amazon

Honeywell Disposable N95 Face Masks

These masks with hook-and-loop closures come in boxes of 20 or 50. Grab the 20-count box if you don’t leave your home often or the 50-count box if you're always on the go.

Sold by Amazon

Kleenex Facial Tissues

This bulk pack contains six rectangular boxes that each contain 160 tissues for a whopping total of 960 tissues. Other bulk packages are available that contain more or fewer tissues.

Sold by Amazon

AquaOasis Humidifier

This humidifier has an adjustable nozzle so you can direct its spray. It holds 2.2 liters and has an auto-shut-off feature to prevent damage if it runs out of water in the night.

Sold by Amazon

Vicks Dayquil And Nyquil Combo Pack

These extra-strength daytime and nighttime formulas mix together pain relief, fever relief, sneezing and runny nose relief, sore throat relief, cough relief, decongestant and, in the case of Nyquil, sleep aid. There's also honey in the formula for a smoother, tastier trip down your gullet.

Sold by Amazon

Zacurate Pulse Oximeter

This oximeter runs on two AAA batteries, which are included, and has a battery indicator so you don’t have to guess when new batteries are due.

Sold by Amazon

iHealth Forehead Thermometer

This thermometer is contactless and has a bright LED display. It uses three sensors, for distance, infrared and environmental temperature compensation, to deliver fast, accurate results.

Sold by Amazon

Lipton Cup-A-Soup 12-Pack

Each box in this 12-pack contains four sachets of soup mix, for 48 total servings. The packets can be cooked in the microwave or on the stove once mixed with water.

Sold by Amazon

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.