We have officially kicked off the fall season, and according to CNN Health’s Living Well expert, Dr. Jennifer Shu, it’s time to get your flu vaccine, and also go over some tips to help keep you and your family healthy during this upcoming winter season.
Dr. Shu’s 5 suggestions to help protect you and your family avoid the flu this season are:
1. According to the Centers for Disease Control the flu vaccine is about 62% effective, so make sure your child gets this season’s flu vaccine. If going to the doctor makes your child nervous, vaccines are available at your local Target, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies, (less stress, and maybe a little prize might take the sting out of the vaccine for them). Should your child become ill, the vaccine may help to reduce their symptoms and shorten their illness.
2. Did you know that flu germs can spread up to 6 feet after a person coughs or sneezes? Teaching your family to practice “good cough etiquette and social distancing” just might spare you from the flu this season. Remind your children of all ages to get into the habit of covering their mouth and nose whenever they cough or sneeze, (great idea to bend your arm over your mouth when coughing or sneezing) and to wash their hands afterward. Should your child become ill, keep them home, and if possible try to keep them in a room of their own while they are recovering.
3. Another not so fun flu fact, the flu virus can live up to 8 hours on surfaces! Make sure to keep counters, hands and shared objects clean; this includes everything from toys, phones, handles, computer keyboard and mouse, and don’t forget the remote control. Stock up on your Clorox wipes and use them often.
4. Staying healthy all year is most important. Make sure that everyone eats a balanced and nutritious diet, stays active with a moderate amount of daily exercise (at least 1 hour a day), and gets plenty of rest; adults need at least 8 hours of sleep, and children and toddlers need between 10-12 hours a night.
5. Unfortunately for those times when the flu does strike your family, you need to “treat the symptoms and keep them comfortable.” Dr. Shu suggests getting plenty of rest and fluids, and for children over 1 year of age, honey is a good cough suppressant “without potential side effects.” For a cough and congestion, grandma's tried and true medicated chest rub, and a humidifier/vaporizer still works wonders today. For a stuffy nose, saline drops are a safe and natural way to keep your nasal passages open.
Also, now might be a good time to pull out your chicken soup recipe to make some for now and freeze some for later. After all, there is nothing better than a steaming hot, home-made bowl of chicken soup, to soothe both your body and soul.