In addition to cooler temperatures, the arrival of fall also means the start of cold and flu season. While you can catch a cold or the flu at any time throughout the year, the risk of getting sick increases during the colder months. If you have school-aged children, the risks of catching a cold and the flu may be even greater.
At Midwest Regional Health Services, our primary care physicians and specialists offer primary and urgent care services for the entire family at our clinic in Omaha, Nebraska.
Tips and tricks to help keep your family healthy this cold and flu season
Many of the tips and tricks that help to stop the spread of seasonal colds and flu are probably already familiar to you from the COVID-19 pandemic.
From keeping your hands clean to staying home and getting enough rest when you or your children are feeling sick, here are some suggestions to help you ride out this cold and flu season.
Keep your distance
Depending on where you live and work, avoiding close contact with your co-workers and neighbors may be challenging. If possible, try to avoid close contact with friends and family members who are sick.
Wash your hands as often as possible
While you may not be able to avoid close contact with other people for the duration of the cold and flu season, proactive steps like washing your hands frequently minimize your risk of picking up cold and flu germs when you’re out and about.
Be sure to wash your hands as soon as you get home or to work, and always wash your hands before eating. Encourage your children to wash their hands frequently throughout the day while they’re at school and at extracurricular activities, especially if they play contact sports.
Warm water and soap work best, but a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol concentration is also a good option when you can’t make it to a sink.
Don’t touch your face
The eyes, nose, and mouth are the gateways to your respiratory system. To minimize the risk of picking up cold and flu germs, avoid rubbing your eyes and touching your face before you’ve had a chance to wash your hands.
Studies have found that a whopping 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Not only is water crucial for your general health and well-being, drinking enough to stave off dehydration is a must to keep your immune system in peak fighting shape during cold and flu season.
Get enough sleep
Adequate sleep is also a staple of a healthy immune system. If you find yourself feeling tired and like you need to get more sleep than usual during cold and flu season, listen to your body so you’re both energized and well rested.
Eat for health
In addition to getting enough fruits and veggies to keep your immune system working well, try to avoid excessive caffeine, sugar, and alcohol to lower your risk of getting sick in the winter.
Clean high touch areas in your home
Flu viruses can be resilient, and remain active on some surfaces for up to 48 hours. To avoid passing along colds and the flu back and forth between your family, clean high touch surfaces like kitchen counters, refrigerator doors, and door knobs on a regular basis.
Get your flu shots
Flu shots are typically between 40%-60% effective in preventing the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccines can also help to decrease the severity of illness if you happen to get sick.
For more information about seasonal cold and flu prevention and treatment, contact Midwest Regional Health Services today to schedule an appointment with one of our primary care specialists.