How to Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season
It’s upon us again. The weather is getting colder and germs are spreading around the office and your children’s’ schools. Yes, it is cold and flu season. Here are some great ways you can protect yourself and your children to make cold and flu season more bearable.
Why are the cold and flu viruses more common during the cold winter months? The below video from CNN explains this mystery.
If your child comes home from school coughing, sneezing or with a runny nose. Don’t panic it could just be the common cold. Here are some great ways you can help your child get through his cold faster and have an easier time with his symptoms. If you live in a climate that is dry during the colder months put a warm mist vaporizer in your child’s room. Breathing in the moist air will help break up your child’s cough and could shorten the amount of days he suffers with the cough.
Vitamin C and the Common Cold
Make sure your child drinks plenty of vitamin C. Research as shown that Vitamin C reduces the duration of the common cold. Great sources of Vitamin C include, Papaya (60mg), strawberries (60mg), oranges (50mg), cauliflower (40mg), and spinach (30mg). According to The Medical College of Wisconsin, the recommended intake of vitamin C for children are as follows:
- 1-3 years: 15 mg
- 4-8 years: 25 mg
- 9-13 years: 45 mg
- 14-18: 75 mg for boys and 65 mg for girls
Vitamin C can also help reduce the length of the cold in adults. Here is the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of vitamin C for adults:
For pregnant and lactating (breast feeding) women:
- Pregnant: 80-85 mg
- Lactating: 115-120 mg
- 75 mg per day for women;
- 90 mg for men.
- Smokers should add an additional 35 mg per day because their metabolic turnover of vitamin C is more rapid, as is their rate of oxidative stress.
There are several ways that you can prevent the cold and flu from spreading around your family. Make sure your children wash their hands frequently during cold and flu season. Use an antibiotic soap and keep objects around the house that are touched frequently sanitized. Spray the telephone, television remote control, computer keyboard, door knobs, toys and light switches with antibacterial spray. Antibacterial disinfecting wipes can also kill household germs that could spread the cold and flu viruses.
If you don’t want to suffer from the cold this season taking Echinacea has been proven to boost the immune system in adults thus reducing the duration of the cold. Pregnant and lactating women should not take this herbal supplement.
How Do You Tell the Difference Between the Cold and Influenza?
According to flufacts.com, “In the U.S., an estimated 25–50 million cases of the flu are currently reported each year — leading to 150,000 hospitalizations and 30,000–40,000 deaths yearly. If these figures were to be estimated incorporating the rest of the world, there would be an average of approximately 1 billion cases of flu, around 3–5 million cases of severe illness, and 300,000–500,000 deaths annually.”
“The cold and flu are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different types of viruses. Flu symptoms usually come on quickly (within 3-6 hours) and consist of a fever, body aches, dry cough, and extreme tiredness. Cold symptoms are less severe and people experience a stuffy nose, productive cough, slight tiredness, and limited body aches.”
If you or your child suffers from a dry cough that is accompanied by a fever, body aches, and moderate to severe tiredness it most likely is the flu. Sneezing, a stuffy nose and sore throat are all common symptoms of the cold but are not present in the influenza virus. If you or your child is throwing up most likely it is food poisoning and not the flu. Contact your doctor right away if any of the symptoms become severe.
The number one way you can prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine. There are two types of flu vaccines, a nasal spray (sometimes referred to as LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”) — which is a spray taken in the nose, and the flu “shot” which usually contains a inactivated (or killed) vaccine. Children 2 and over can get the nasal spray.
Who is the most at risk?
Anyone can get the flu shot but it is most recommended that these people get vaccinated each year
Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
People 50 years of age and older
People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
Health care workers
Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Take your vitamins, keep your home clean, drink plenty of orange juice and most of all make sure everyone in your family gets their annual flu shot. These tips will help you and your family stay healthy this cold and flu season.