Ahhh, it’s that time of the year: flu season is upon those of us here in the United States! And not to freak you out, but rumor has it that this year could be particularly bad.
You’ll know if the flu has hit your home because the symptoms are hard and fast, unlike when you get a cold. Colds tend to gradually build, so if you find yourself suddenly hit with a high temperature, chills, a sore throat, and/or muscle and body aches… you’ve probably got the flu.
Parents are often concerned with keeping their kids as healthy as possible, especially during autumn and winter when kids are closer together in school and at home. All that close contact creates situations ripe for sharing germs!
Luckily, there are tried and true methods for keeping yourself and your family well each season. If you’ve already been hit with the flu in your home, there are also a few DIY methods you can try to help speed up your recovery.
Get Your Flu Shot
This one feels obvious, but flu vaccination rates in the US still leave something to be desired. One reason a lot of people don’t get vaccinated is they think the shot itself will get them sick. According to Dr. Marc Siegel, professor of medicine at NYU Langone, that’s simply not true:
“The flu is a rapidly mutating virus because it is made up of a single strand of genetic material known as RNA (ribonucleic acid), which is not capable of repairing itself, so that the mutations are copied. This is why there are so many strains or subtypes of flu out in the community, and why we are not perfectly defended against this virus even when we take flu vaccine.”
Flu shots are safe for children 6 months and up.
Wash 👏 Your 👏 Hands 👏
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This is the most basic tip for keeping yourselves and your loved ones healthy, but it’s also the most effective. The best thing you can do for your kids during flu season is to drill into them the importance of washing their hands before they eat, especially if your kids are fans of finger foods. Kids are exposed to all kinds of bacteria and viruses all day long, and kids are also not exactly known for being… clean.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water is crucial to staying healthy. A hydrated body is better equipt to stave off and fight illness. If you or your kids end up with a fever and the flu, drinking water will keep you from dehydrating and ending up in the hospital. Drinking water also keeps your mucous membrane thin, which makes it easier to blow your nose.
Watch Your Diet
You probably hear it all the time, but eating well really does help you live well, too. These disease-fighting foods will help boost your immune system:
- Protein: think beans, eggs, nuts, fish, and chicken. Protein is part of the foundation of our disease-fighting white blood cells
- Antioxidant-rich fruit: berries, yams, and citrus
- Probiotics: yogurt is rich in intestine-boosting probiotics, which will keep your gut healthy and hopefully help you avoid an intense stomach flu
Take Some Time to Chill Out
Being overly stressed can definitely have a negative impact on your health, and many kids and families face chronic stress triggers. There’s a lot you can do to lower your stress levels, though. Taking a walk together after school pick-up or blocking out even 20 minutes to read a book together can do wonders for the entire family.
Make Sure Everyone Sleeps
An early bedtime can be tough to impose (especially for yourself), but getting plenty of sleep each night is vital for staying healthy. For adults, this usually means at least 7 hours a night, and for school-aged kids, it’s at least 10.
Clean Heavily Trafficked Surfaces
It’s nearly impossible to keep the entire house super clean with kids running around, but you can do a little bit each day to keep the surfaces your family most often touches clean. Think screens, remotes, doorknobs, tables, crib railings, and faucets. Basically, clean anything and everything you and or your kids touch a lot, and you’ll decrease the germs present in your home.
This story originally appeared at LittleThings.