Ah, flu season. Each year, it sweeps through the nation, causing dreaded coughs, sneezes, aches, and chills. No one wants to see their family suffer from being sick, so it’s important to keep them well during cold and flu season.
Unfortunately, because exposure to viruses can happen quickly, the average child will catch between six and 10 colds every year. Your child is exposed to bacteria and viruses on a daily basis at home, daycare, or school. It’s important to remind your child, and yourself, to wash your hands before meals, after using the bathroom, after playing outside, and after petting animals. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests washing your hands for at least 10 to 15 seconds.
Along with the hand-washing recommendation, the CDC also recommends getting a flu vaccine every year. While it cannot completely prevent people from getting the flu, it can help decrease the length of the illness if they do get sick and keep flu symptoms milder.
If soap and warm water are not available to you at the time, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be an alternative defense against germs. However, children should be supervised when using hand sanitizer, as it can be dangerous if consumed.
Even though you can’t always control the number of germs out in public, you can make efforts to minimize the number of germs in your house. Scrubbing toilets and countertops may not be your idea of fun, but doing so can significantly decrease your family’s chances of getting sick. And if a family member does fall ill, it’s important to minimize their interaction throughout the house and thoroughly clean any infected areas after they’re no longer contagious.
While simple disinfecting throughout your home may provide short-term benefits, it’s also important to consider long-term relief. You may want to consider investing in small projects like having your air ducts cleaned. Because contaminants and air pollutants like dust and chemicals get pulled into your HVAC system, the re-circulation of these contaminants can cause buildup in the duct systems and can harm residents’ health. In knowing this, it’s crucial to ensure your home is a safe, contaminant and germ-free place for your family.
Food, diet, and exercise all play a big role in staying healthy as well. If your family eats a lot of sugar or processed food, you could be subjecting yourselves to a suppressed immune system. On the other hand, eating whole foods and staying hydrated will help your body fight viruses and keep you healthy.
It may be tempting to stay bundled up on the couch during the cold winter months, but it’s important to keep exercising. Regular exercise keeps the body healthy and allows it to fight off bacteria more easily.
“A healthy diet, regular physical activity, and following the tips above can help reduce your child’s chances of getting sick during the cold and flu season,” says Dr. Holly Smith, a pediatrician with Signature Pediatrics, “Remember, if your child does get sick, give them plenty of time to rest and recover.”