The holidays and winter season bring many joys but also bring colds and flus. The majority of infections your family will face this season are spread either by breathing in respiratory droplets from a cough or by touching infected particles stuck on surfaces like doorknobs and shopping carts. In an effort to keep our families healthy, we have compiled the following list. Some of the advice you already know, but some tips may surprise you. Reduce the chance of getting sick through good hygiene and by strengthening your immune system. Here’s how:
- Hygiene: Wash your hands with an antibacterial soap and water for 20 seconds before eating or touching your face, nose or eyes. Wash your hands after you leave a public place. Never share food, drinks, toothpaste or toothbrushes with anyone.
- Sleep: A well-rested body can fight off infection much easier than a sleep-deprived body. Children and teens need 8-10 hours a night and adults 8 hours. Infants need more sleep, anywhere from 12-15 hours a day.
- Antioxidant-Rich Diet: Antioxidants found in foods and teas reduce inflammation and help prevent infection. Not only do fruits and vegetables provide your body with vitamins (far better than synthetic vitamins), they also have antioxidants. Try to eat at least 3 fresh fruits per day and 4 servings of vegetables per day such as sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, blueberries, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, citrus fruits, and strawberries. Other foods rich in antioxidants are beans, avocado, nuts, fish, and green tea (decaffeinated preferred for kids).
- Exercise: Exercising an hour a day will keep your body healthy, reduce stress and help your immune system. Try to find something fun your family can do together.
- Fresh Air and Sunshine: An hour a day of walking, exercising, gardening or just playing outside provides vitamin D, an essential vitamin, and reduces stress- both of which will help your immune system. Studies show that people who are “nature deprived” suffer from more illnesses and infections than those who “play” outside daily. Make sure to use sunscreen; this will not prevent you from getting vitamin D.
- Vaccines: Vaccines have been one of the most important life-saving accomplishments of medicine. Prior to vaccines, thousands of children and adults died every year in the US. Polio paralyzed 21,000 people in 1952. In the 1920’s 13,000 people died every year from Diphtheria. Unfortunately, not everyone takes advantage of these life-saving vaccines and in the past ten flu seasons, an average of 34,000 people in the U.S. die annually of influenza, some years as 12,000 per year and some as high as 56,000 influenza related deaths. Please vaccinate your family against influenza and make sure that you and your children are current on all other immunizations.
©Great Destinations Pediatrics 9/13/2017