Beyond Hand Washing: How to Avoid the Common Cold and Flu
There’s no cure for the common cold yet, but that doesn’t mean your family is doomed to suffer through endless rounds of drippy noses and hacking coughs this winter.
Fighting the flu
The first tool in your arsenal against winter’s aches and pains, say experts, is a flu vaccine shot.
Despite common myths, flu vaccines don’t infect people with the flu because the shots contain no live viruses. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children and young adults ranging in age from 6 months to 24 years old, along with pregnant women, adults with underlying health problems, healthcare workers and caregivers of babies under six months, should be vaccinated as soon as possible.
Another great way to avoid flu and colds is to keep your distance (literally, six feet or more away) from those who are sick. It’s a myth that cold weather causes colds and flu. The real reason more viruses catch on in the colder months is because people are indoors and sharing germs.
The best way to protect yourself and others from spreading germs is good hand hygiene. That includes remembering to cough into your sleeves instead of your hands, and washing your hands often with soap and water. A thorough washing should last at least 15 seconds or, as long as it takes to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Despite some controversy over giving hand sanitizers to children because of the alcohol they contain, doctors recommend them for older children who don’t put their hands in their mouths.
4 ways to fight colds and flu
- Get a flu shot.
- Wash hands early and often.
- Cough into sleeves, not hands.
- Eat healthy and exercise regularly.
Who should get a flu shot?
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children and young adults ranging in age from 6 months to 24 years old, along with pregnant women, adults with underlying health problems, healthcare workers and caregivers of babies under six months, should be vaccinated against flu each year.