Keeping Kids Healthy Through Flu Season And Beyond

The 2014-15 flu season was one of the worst ones in recent memory, and this season is just getting started. With all the confusion and misinformation about flu prevention, it’s important to know how to keep your family safer this winter.

But making it through the next few months is only part of the issue. Moms are always looking for ways to multitask, and flu season is a great opportunity. Use these next few months to not only prevent the spread of illness, but also as a teaching opportunity to help your kids begin healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

Straight-Up Flu Prevention

A flu vaccine is a lot like a seatbelt. It’s very inconvenient to herd the children to the doctor or pharmacist for a shot, especially since the chances of one of your children getting the flu are rather small. But even still, you have them buckle up on every trip, so you should treat a flu shot in the same way.

Moreover, to continue with the seat belt analogy, today’s belts are much more comfortable, and much more effective, than the ones in cars just a few years ago. Likewise, today’s flu shot is normally safe for kids with even mild egg allergies, and in addition to flu prevention, flu shots also reduce the risk for complications and keep flu cases shorter.

The shot alone is not enough. Take precautions to prevent germs from spreading. Frequent hand-washing is the most effective preventative measure. Hot water is nice, but it’s the scrubbing motion and soap that kills germs. Hand sanitizer is an effective substitute. Also, teach your kids to cover their mouths and noses with tissues instead of their hands when they sneeze or cough. Mouth-covering is a very good habit, as is frequently cleaning surfaces with disinfectant sprays.

Finally, keep the right tools handy. That includes a good fever tracker, over-the-counter flu remedies, and plenty of TLC.

Flu Prevention and Teachable Moments

In addition to cleanliness, there are other good habits that you can teach your kids this winter, so don’t lose this golden opportunity.

  • Sleep Habits: Fatigued individuals are more vulnerable to illness and also less effective during the day, so get your kids to bed early. Set a good example by going to bed early yourself, or at least by going to your room and being quiet. Avoid alcohol before bedtime, because this substance interferes with REM sleep.

  • More Protein: Fish, yogurt, eggs, and other low fat, high protein foods should be daily staples, because protein fuels the immune system. Don’t sweat the eggs so much, because the government recently raised the RDA for cholesterol.

  • Exhale More: Teach your kids to breathe out slowly whenever they pass a sick person until they are at least six feet away. That way, they do not breathe in airborne germs and therefore have a lower risk of contracting illness.

  • Push Fluids: Water flushes environmental and food toxins out through the lymph system, and juices are a great way to add more fruits and vegetables into the diet.

Exercise is another excellent habit. Make sure your kids are active at least once a day, and standing outside does not really count. Supplement this exercise with regular activity, such as walking the dog, taking out the trash, and doing the other chores that they are theoretically supposed to do.

Life is all about transforming crisis into opportunity, and flu prevention is an excellent example.

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