Common colds are the main reason children miss school and adults miss work, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Respiratory viruses love to circulate in the winter, including rhinovirus, one cause of the “common cold”, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is the most common cause of severe respiratory illness in young children and the leading cause of death from respiratory illness in those age 65 and older. While influenza viruses circulate year-round, flu activity usually peaks between December and February in the United States.
Why do cold and flu viruses love winter so much? Medical News Today explains that cold air affects the body’s first line of defense. Common cold and flu viruses try to gain entry into the body through the nose, but the nose constantly secretes mucus, creating sophisticated defense mechanisms against these microbial intruders.
However, cold air cools the nasal passage and slows down mucus clearance, allowing viruses to enter more easily. And once a virus has penetrated this defense mechanism, the immune system has to take over fighting off the intruder.
So what are the best things your team members can do to help protect themselves this cold and flu season?
The flu shot is an eligible expense for those with a health savings account (HSA) or medical flexible spending account (FSA).
Stock up on useful products to help manage the cold and flu season
Employees can stock up from the comfort of home using their Further debit card to purchase eligible products on the Amazon FSA and HSA Store, Walgreens, or CVS online, and pay directly with their account balance.
Examples of eligible expenses to stock up for cold and season include:
· Over-The-Counter Cold and Flu Medicine, no prescription needed
· Throat Drops
· Pain Relievers
· Nasal Strips
· Chest Rub Ointment
· And much more!
Visit the Eligible Expenses page for a searchable list of IRS-approved expenses.
Spend those unused funds
Stocking up right now is especially important for FSA holders: team members with an FSA don’t want to lose those unspent funds at the end of the year!
Do you have a team member who is unsure what remaining money is in their account? They can check their current balance by signing in to their account, checking the Further mobile app, or reaching out to Member Services.