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Is your family prepared for cold and flu season?

Posted Monday, January 16, 2006

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It’s the time of year for sneezing, coughing and the oh-so-dreaded flu. Are you doing everything you can to prepare your family for the onslaught of cold and flu season? In addition to increasing your intake of Vitamin C, and perhaps getting a flu shot, there are a number of quick tips to help your family survive this winter – healthier and happier. According to Dr. Kelly Reynolds, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, “While there aren’t any vaccines for the common cold, there are plenty of defense mechanisms the average person can use to ward off germs and keep healthy.”

Dr. Reynolds’ top ten tips include:

1. Eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. Sticking to a diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit each day, as well as exercising regularly, will make it easier for your body to resist any kind of infection, including colds and flu. If your diet is less-than-perfect, add a multivitamin to your daily routine. In addition, if you are well-rested and get eight hours of sleep each night, you will be less vulnerable to catching a virus.

2. Get in a lather. Wash your hands frequently with warm water, particularly around your rings and under your nails. Use liquid or plain soap, and lather for at least 20 seconds. The friction and lathering is what is most important. When turning off the water, be sure to use a paper towel to prevent recontaminating your hands.

3. Vaccinate. Flu shots aren’t for everyone . . . but if you’re over the age of 65, have a chronic disease affecting your heart and lungs, have diabetes or kidney problems, take certain drugs that affect the immune system, or work in institutions that care for these people; you should consider getting the flu vaccine. This preventative measure may lesson your symptoms or keep you from getting the flu altogether.

4. To help clean the air around you. From sick children and allergens to mold and fungal spores, the air we breathe inside our homes can be worse than the air we breathe outside. To help clean the air in your home, use an air sanitizer.

5. Don’t touch! Colds and flu are spread most often by hand-to-hand or surface-to hand contact. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth after being exposed to viruses or bacteria.6. Sneeze safely. If you have to sneeze and can’t find a tissue in time, sneeze into your shoulder (not your hands) to avoid spreading germs.

7. Disinfect, disinfect, disinfect! Be sure to clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces such as telephones, countertops, door knobs and stair rails to avoid hand-to-hand spread of viruses.

8. Open the windows. Germs like stagnant air and will remain there. Weather permitting, open windows to circulate fresh air.

9. Avoid smoking. Smoking is a respiratory irritant that increases susceptibility to viruses that cause colds and the flu. Avoid smoking, as well as second-hand smoke.

10. Stay away from sick people. Saving the best advice for last . . . because colds and viruses are shared when these infections are coughed and sneezed into the air, try to stay away from people who are ill; and avoid enclosed, crowded places. If you’re sick yourself, be sure to stay away from work and other public places if at all possible.

So, you’ve followed these tips and you still got sick? Not to worry. According to Dr. Reynolds, “The best treatment is to rest, keep warm and drink plenty of fluids to help flush the germs out of your system. Although there aren’t any drugs to specifically cure the cold or flu, there are some nonprescription medications to help relieve symptoms such as headaches, sore throats and coughs. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medications, as they may have negative interactions with prescriptions you are already taking.”

And while you’re on the mend . . . it can’t hurt to try some comforting cures, from chicken noodle soup to tea with honey – sometimes these remedies can do wonders in getting you and your family back on your feet.

content courtesy of ARA

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Is your family prepared for cold and flu season?
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