You may have noticed the flu season is coming a bit late this year. I would not, however, let down your guard just yet. Unusually warm weather in parts of the country earlier this winter may have slowed down the flu, but it’s likely to be on the rise soon.
As a parent, there is nothing worse than a sick child, right? And as a husband I’d add: next to a sick child, there’s nothing worse than a sick wife. Here are some things we can do to reduce the chance we (either parent) take a cold or flu home to our families.
Some of these are the common suggestions, but some I didn’t know. For example: Keep Hands Moisturized to Help Keep Out Germs – small cracks in dry skin can be entry points for unwanted germs, including cold and flu viruses. Here are more tips:
- Don’t Trust Warm Water to Wash Away Germs – New studies have revealed that washing our hands with warm water alone has virtually no effect on germs. We also need to use soap to kill potentially harmful germs.
- Try to Stay at Least 6 Feet from Anyone with the Flu – The virus spreads through droplets that are expelled during talking, coughing, and sneezing. Keeping that 6-foot boundary can help keep any stray drops from landing near you. All together now… ewwww!
- Make Sure Your Sanitizing Gel Has Completely Dried – When using a sanitizing gel, we must continue to rub our hands until they are completely dry. Germs can attach more readily to—and multiply more quickly on—moist surfaces, especially our hands
- Is It OK to Kiss If You Have a Cold? – Yes! Surprisingly, kissing is not a very easy way to become infected. Kissing studies have shown that only 8% of people kissed by infected partners got colds. That said, best not reenact the From Here To Eternity beach scene.
- Are they Allergy or Cold Symptoms – Allergy symptoms almost never cause aches, pains, or fever. Colds do. On the other hand, cold and flu symptoms rarely include itchy eyes or frequent sneezing, which are common allergy symptoms. I used to always get these confused.
- What Exactly Is a “Stomach Flu”? – Is it really the flu? Nope, the “stomach flu” is actually a gastrointestinal infection commonly caused by a virus or bacteria, causing nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. The single best treatment is slow and deliberate re-hydration.
A flu shot won’t give us the flu. Rarely, the injection can cause fever or muscle aches for a day or two. If the symptoms do not clear up within a few days or they get worse, you might be experiencing an allergic reaction. See your doctor.
But wait, there’s more…
- It’s OK If Your Child Keeps Coughing – Parents can start to worry if their child’s cough lingers. However, be prepared for a cough to linger after cold or flu symptoms have stopped. If your child is age appropriate, consider cough drops or a cough suppressant. It’s OK to treat coughs with an over-the-counter medicine for up to seven days (refer to package label for details). If it has been longer than seven days, contact your doctor.
- Know When It Could Be Pneumonia – 50% of all cases of pneumonia are caused by a viral infection, which cannot be cured by an antibiotic. However, another type of pneumonia is caused by a bacterial infection that can be treated with an antibiotic. Either way, watch for these two symptoms: chest pain that gets more severe as you breathe, and high fever that causes excessive chills or sweating.4 Pneumonia is a serious respiratory illness. If you think you or a family member might have pneumonia, consult a doctor immediately.
- Treat Allergies to Reduce a Cold’s Chances – In 2006, a French study showed that seasonal allergies (basically your typical allergy symptoms) greatly disrupted sleep patterns and sleep quality, even if the patients didn’t wake up. A lack of quality sleep can disrupt the effectiveness of your immune system and make you more susceptible to cold or flu viruses. If you seem to get colds more often than other people, consider getting an allergy test to determine if this could be one of the sources of your increased susceptibility.
- Add Humidity to Fight Cold Viruses – Cold viruses thrive in dry, winter air. Keeping your indoor humidity levels between 40% and 60% is recommended to help slow the spread and growth of these viruses, plus it helps maintain a more comfortable environment for you and your family. Consider a Vicks humidifier to help you make it through cold and flu season.
- This is why it’s called the Common Cold – It is estimated that adults will suffer two to four colds per year, and children could suffer up to 10 colds annually. In fact, on average, people have a cough or cold for 2-1/2 years of their lives.
I’m not a medical doctor, nor do I play one on TV… so none of these tips should replace your physician’s advice. These tips were kindly provided by the good people at Vicks. I love that a company that could make money on illness is helping keep us well!
I also love Vick’s products, always have. From the VapoRub my mom rubbed on me when I was sick (remember the smell?), to their cool new Nature Fusion line combining the powerful medicine Vicks is known for, with the goodness of real honey.
While this post was sponsored by Vicks, my love affair with their products has been going on my whole life. Visit their website for more tips on how to keep your home cold and flu free this winter, and also to read about all of their wonderful products.