Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

Prevent Flu: Steer Clear of Sick People

When flu infects your friend or co-worker, how close is too close?
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

You've heard them -- flu-sick sneezers and coughers at the office, day care, shopping mall, or grocery store. Avoiding the flu is no small matter.

So what can you do? One sure flu prevention tip is to avoid close contact with people who are sick. Anyone who is at high risk from the seasonal flu -- like young children and older adults -- should avoid crowds and public places during the usual flu season, from late October to mid-March.

Swine Flu Outbreak: Get the Facts

Swine Flu Slideshow

Learn more about the H1N1 swine flu and see what you can do to stay healthy.

View the slideshow.

The honest truth is, in a large environment -- waiting rooms, airports, supermarkets -- it's very difficult to protect oneself from catching a virus," says Robert Schwartz, MD, chairman of family medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine. "The last time I flew, the guy across from me was sneezing and coughing. I wondered if he had tuberculosis."

A good idea: Stock up on hand sanitizers, either gels or hand wipes.

Making It Work in a Crowd: Your Kids vs. the Grocery Cart

When someone sneezes or coughs in your midst, you can try to protect yourself. "But covering your mouth or turning away doesn't really protect from microscopic airborne droplets," Schwartz says. "They travel through the air, and people breathe them in; they also land on clothes and hands. That's the mode of transmission."

These days, "people need to understand that they are part of the world at large," Schwartz tells WebMD. "They contribute to the spread of illness not only in their own family, but also in their community. People need to become socially conscious." That's especially true in the era of a potential swine flu epidemic.

Going out in public with young children poses its own risks, says Erica Brownfield, MD, a professor of internal medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. Like many small kids, her own daughter has a "thing" about putting her mouth on the grocery cart handle. "Who knows why?" Brownfield tells WebMD. "If you're worried about germs on the grocery cart, most grocery stores have wipes. Frequent hand washing is really the best thing you can do, especially when you've been in a public place."

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat