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 How to protect your family from colds and flu

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PostSubject: How to protect your family from colds and flu   Mon Oct 13, 2008 3:29 pm

Thirteen
cold & flu myths
demystified
Get the facts on keeping your kids healthy




A typical kid will catch five to eight colds this year. Throw in a bout of the flu, and your little one could spend a lot of time sniffling, sneezing, and feeling miserable.

How to protect your family from colds and flu


1. Wash your hands! When you keep your hands clean, viruses lose one of their favorite ways to travel. Teach your family to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before and after eating, and after coughing or sneezing. Use soap and warm water, and wash for 15 to 20 seconds -- long enough to sing two rounds of "Happy Birthday." Make sure anyone who takes care of your child knows to wash up often, too.

Tip: Keep alcohol-based hand gel in the car and in your purse for cleanup on the go. And use the wipes provided at the supermarket to swipe the cart handle before shopping.

2. Disinfect. Cold viruses can live on surfaces for as long as three hours -- so consider washing counters and tabletops with a virus-killing disinfectant or a bleach-and-water solution (1/4 cup bleach in a gallon of water), especially if someone in the house is already sick. Wipe the light switches, telephones, doorknobs, keyboards, and other things that family members share, too. Wash cups and eating utensils well with soap and hot water between uses. Don't share!
[b]Tip:
You can find easy and inexpensive recipes for homemade cleaning solutions online or in books. Ingredients like vinegar, tea tree oil, and borax arenít as strong as bleach and some commercial disinfectants, but they're generally safer and still effective.

3. Contain coughs and sneezes. To avoid spreading germs, teach your child to cover his mouth when he sneezes or coughs. Ideally, he should use a tissue and immediately throw it away. If he sneezes into his hands, he'll need to wash them promptly.

Tip: It's unlikely that your child will have a tissue ready every time he coughs or sneezes. Show him how to sneeze or cough into the crook of his arm instead of his hands when no tissue is available.

4. Avoid exposure. Protect your child by avoiding close contact with people who have a cold or the flu. If her best friend is sniffling and sneezing, it isn't a good time for a sleepover.

Tip: Avoiding exposure goes both ways. Try to keep your kids home when they're sick, and stay home when you're ill.

5. Build a healthy body. A healthy immune system depends on a healthy body, and an immune system that's in good shape is better equipped to fight off viruses. If you're breastfeeding, keep it up as long as you can. The antibodies in breast milk can protect against a host of germs. Feed your older child a balanced diet, and encourage him to exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.

Tip: If your child gets frequent colds despite your best efforts, don't despair. Perfectly healthy people catch colds all the time -- so getting sick isn't necessarily a sign of a weak immune system. Learn the truth about this and a dozen other cold and flu myths. And, when illness strikes, find an alternative to medicine with 11 safe home remedies to soothe your child's colds and flu.
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