Preventing Sickness During Flu Season

Top Preventive Tips to Protect Your Family During Flu Season

A healthy immune system is the key to preventing sickness. No matter how hard you work to keep little germs out of little bodies, some bacteria and viruses find their way in. So, your next line of defense is to build your child’s immune-fighting army to better fight these germs and prevent sickness, especially during flu season. Here’s how:

Keep the Nose and Sinuses Clear

Germs settle first in the nose and sinuses, so it’s important to keep these passages flushed out. Here’s Dr. Bill’s dynamic duo: a “nose hose” and a “steam clean” – both of which he uses and recommends to his patients to prevent sickness throughout the year.

Start with a nose hose

Make your own saltwater nose drops (¼ teaspoon of salt to 8-ounces of warm water). Spritz a few drops of the solution into your child’s nose and gently suction out the loosened secretions using a nasal aspirator, which the veteran nose-cleaners in my medical practice dub a “snot-snatcher.” Use a xylitol nasal spray such as Xlear. Science shows that xylitol helps keep bacteria from sticking to the lining of the nose and sinuses, thus lowering the risk of sinus infections.

Enjoy a “steam clean”

Make a home steam bath by turning on a hot shower in the bathroom and closing the door. Fifteen minutes of concentrated steam while holding and reading to your child will help keep her nose clear. For adults and children over eight, use a facial steamer. Let your children see you use a facial steamer while reading a book or watching TV and market it as “Oh, it makes my face feel so soft!” Inhale the steam and notice how less congested your breathing passages feel.

Eat Immune-Boosting Foods

In our medical practice, especially during flu season, I encourage families to eat immune-boosting foods, such as: wild salmon, blueberries, and vitamin-C-rich fruits (strawberries, papaya, cantaloupe, kiwi) and veggies (broccoli, and spinach). I also prescribe lots of “fruit and yogurt smoothies.” Yogurt is a yummy immune-booster by supplying the intestines with probiotics – those friendly bacteria that inhabit the gut and, in return for a warm place to live, crowd out the harmful bacteria that get in. I have noticed that families who feed their children these top immune-boosting foods are sick less often. Also, be sure to minimize sugar and junk food, which weaken the immune system.

Wash Hands Often and Properly

According to the CDC, hand washing is the most effective way to stay healthy. Teach your children to wash their hands frequently to help kill the viruses and bacteria they may have collected. Have them use regular soap and warm water to scrub their hands including the back of their hands, in between fingers and under nails for 20 seconds. Use antibacterial gel or wipes if soap and water are not available.

Disinfect to Protect

Kids can touch and retouch more than 300 surfaces in just 30 minutes, which is not beneficial when you want to reduce the spread of germs to prevent sickness. You can help protect family members from picking up and spreading germs with their hands by spraying commonly touched surfaces and objects with a disinfectant spray. Regular disinfection will help kill cold- and flu-causing viruses and bacteria before anyone in your family gets sick.

Go Outside and Play!

Mom’s timeless advice, again. Weather permitting, enjoy lots of winter exercise. Movement, especially while enjoying nature, mobilizes the immune system, increasing your protection against germs.

These are all a few ideas and tips to help you and your family to prevent sickness, whether it is flu season or anytime throughout the year.

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