12 Tips to Beat Cold & Flu Season
Learn how to keep your family healthy and germ free with tips from HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® on beating a cold and the flu this season.
By Sarah Parker Ward
Cool weather is here, and so are the sniffles and coughs of cold and flu season. While there’s a very good chance your family will encounter some type of bug, we’ve rounded up a listof simple steps you can take to help keep your family at it’s best, as well as some much-neededinfo to get them back on their feet when the germs do win.
- Don’t Stress – The first step to a healthy body is an immune system that’s at the ready,which means free of any deficiency that requires the body to work in overdrive. So,make sure your littles are eating balanced meals and getting the right amount of sleepeach night.
- Wash Those Hands – Studies have found that as many as 95 percent of us don’t washour hands correctly. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 20 full secondsof scrubbing. If you’re worried about drying out your littles’ hands, opt for alcohol-basedsanitizer instead.
- Clean More Often – Routine cleanings, like stripping the beds or cleaning out the fridge,should have an uptick in frequency during peak germ season.
- Keep Them Active – In the dead of winter it can be easy to stay cozied up inside, butkids still need to get out and sweat in order to keep their immune systems strong.
- Consider the Flu Vaccine – For children older than 6 months, consider the annual flushot as a preventative measure. You can opt for either the nasal spray or injection shot.
- Bring Hand Wipes – Even if your little is out of diapers (lucky you!), throw a travel packof wipes in your bag. Public areas like door handles, grocery carts, and water fountainsare often teaming with germs, so give them a quick wipe down before touching.
- Know What to Look For – The flu can be serious business, yet knowing the differencebetween it and the common cold can be tricky. Common cold symptoms often includecongestion, cough, and/or a runny nose, while the flu is often indicated by the suddenonset of a fever, chills, body aches, and extreme fatigue.
- Stay Home – If your child has a fever or severe congestion, keep them home. Sendingthem to school not only puts other children at risk, but could also prolong their illness.
- Choose Targeted Medications – Over-the-counter medication can provide much neededrelief for many of the symptoms of both cold and flu. However, when selecting over-the-counter medications, opt for those that target only the symptoms your little one has.Read and follow the entire product label prior to giving your child any medicine. If youhave questions, always consult your pediatrician or pharmacist.
- Keep the Liquid flowing – In every form possible, hydration is key for both preventingand treating cold and flu viruses. Warm tea, soup, and saline nose spray are all helpful.
- Help Them Recoup Restfully – Sometimes it’s hard for little one’s to fully understandhow to rest unless they’re sleeping. Beat their boredom by reading to them, breakingout photo albums, bundling up for a short walk, or – the tried and true standby –watching a movie.
- Know When to Call the Doctor – There are many different strains of flu and, ifuntreated, certain strains can pose serious health risk. In fact, more than 200,000people in the U.S. are hospitalized with the flu annually, many of whom are youngchildren. If your son or daughter has difficulty breathing or a fever that reaches over 102degrees or spikes rapidly, call your pediatrician right away.
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Are They Getting Enough Zzz’s?
Optimal sleep time is:
Newborns: 16-18 hours
1-4 years old: 11-12 hours
5-12: At least 10 hours
13+: 9-10 hours