The winter season is often the busiest time of year. With an overload of work, school, church, and holiday events, eating healthy and protecting your families immune system is rarely a priority. However, paying close attention to your families health is particularly crucial during the winter months. Why? Because low temperatures and weather changes create the perfect environment for the spread of viral infections, especially the flu.
Everyday Prevention to Protect Your Family From the Flu
- Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough
- Wash your hands as frequently as possible with soap and water. Alcohol based hand rub may act as a substitute if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid the spread of germs by keeping hands away from eyes, nose, and mouth.
- If you or your child gets sick with a viral infection (such as the flu), limit contact with others for at least 24 hours after fever has subsided.
Protecting Your Child From Germs at School or Day Care
- Make sure that your child’s school or day-care frequently clean touched objects and surfaces.
- Check that there is an adequate supply of hand towels, tissues, soap, alcohol based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
- Ask how sick students and staff are separated from others and who cares for ill children until they can go home.
Although these methods of prevention are important for keeping the flu away, their effectiveness pales in comparison to protecting your family with the flu vaccine.
There are two available types of vaccines; the seasonal shot and the seasonal nasal spray.
While some may worry about the low level of risks associated with flu vaccines, the flu is not just an uncomfortable, quickly passing bug that is easy tolerate. Getting the flu can worsen existing medical conditions, cause seizures, diarrhea and even fatality in children and elderly.
Click here for important information and a list of potential risks associated with the seasonal shot.
Click here for important information and a list of potential risks associated with the seasonal nasal spray.
Symptoms of the Flu
Recognizing the difference between the flu virus and the common cold is incredibly important and failing to do so can often lead to severe consequences. The main difference between the two is how sudden the flu symptoms (listed below) appear:
- fever (not everyone with flu will have a fever)
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- body aches
- sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
If you or a family member begins to experience flu-like symptoms the best thing to do is stay home and avoid contact with others except to get medical care. Surprisingly, many people who catch the flu have a mild version of the illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs however there is potential for symptoms to increase in severity.
Click here for a list of the emergency warning signs of flu in infants, children, and adults. If any of these symptoms occur seek medical attention immediately.
Tips for Treating the Flu
- Bring down a fever by applying a damp washcloth to forehead or through medications containing the ingredients “acetaminophen”or “ibuprofen”
- If possible, make a sick room where the person with flu symptoms can stay while contagious. This will help to avoid spreading the virus to other family members.
- Flu can lead to severe dehydration so prevent fluid loss through drinking plenty of liquids.
- Use ice pops or frozen ice chips to numb the throat.
- Use a humidifier to add extra moisture in the air, making it easier to breath.
Dr. K’s Top 10 Flu Myths
Through taking preventative action and getting seasonal flu vaccinations, you and your family can enjoy the abundance of winter activities completely flu-free! For more information about the flu virus visit The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.