We are in the middle of flu season and since I just read an article that states that 1 in 10 American deaths have been caused by the flu this season, I thought I’d share some tips that have been helpful for our family. Although nothing is a cure-all, I believe these things, at the very least, help to minimize cold/flu symptoms when we do fall under the weather. (Disclaimer: Since I am not a medical professional, you should only try these ideas if they are compatible with your doctor’s recommendations.)
(1) Yogurt–Since giving my kids yogurt on a daily basis, I have noticed a significant change in the number of times they get colds/flus. Yogurt helps to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, which is where many (if not most) illnesses start to form in your body. Foods don’t make you indestructible but they are a good preventative measure against illness and help strengthen your immune system. For those who can’t get your kids to eat yogurt, look for drinkable options at the grocery store and mix them into your kids’ milk with breakfast.
(2) Soup–Same reason as (1). Chicken soup really does work. Wonderful alternatives are miso soup and bone broth.
(3) Essential Oils–My favorite oils during flu season are eucalyptus and peppermint. In addition to deterring bugs/mosquitoes during the spring/summer, these oils also have anti-viral/bacterial properties and make great bathroom air fresheners, aromatherapy, vapor rubs, etc. The oils also have a calming effect.
(4) Air Circulation—Stagnant air leads to illnesses spreading at rapid rates so make sure your home is well-ventilated and there is ample air circulation. For us, we always keep our ceiling fans and air purifiers on high. And, when the weather and air quality are nice outside, we’ll also open our windows.
(5) Don’t Touch Your Face–This has always been hard for me to do but I find that it really does make a difference. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are prime entry points for viruses and bacteria. Parents, remind your kids about this, too!
(6) Avoid Crowds in Tight Spaces–Places where many people are gathered in tight areas should be avoided during flu season for obvious reasons. Such places include subways, buses, planes, trains, etc.
(7) Hot baths and Showers–Take a hot bath and/or shower at night before bedtime. Not only is it relaxing, but it also washes away all the dirt, grime, allergens, pollutants, cold/flu viruses/bacteria that are on your person (everything that settles on your hair and skin as you’re out and about during the day).
(8) Stay Home–We don’t live in a bubble but because we have small children, I try to be mindful of when and where we take them during flu season. Do we really want to go to a birthday party where half the kids have snotty noses and are coughing every two minutes? No, thanks (our kids have their entire lives to socialize)!
(9) Wash Clothes and Linens in Hot Water and Dry in High Heat–This is a big one. Many of us don’t realize how dirty our clothes, towels, and bed linens are, especially during flu season. In college, I discovered that not everyone uses a fresh/clean towel with each bath/shower and that some people reuse their towels (mind blown). No offense to those of you who reuse your towels but during flu season, changing towels after each use is a must. In our home, we also change our bed linens every week. Wash everything in hot water (rinse cold; this, of course, does not apply to delicate items). It doesn’t matter how much detergent you use (a little goes a long way) but the water must be HOT. After washing, dry everything in high heat. Studies show that drying your items in high heat will help rid your clothes of lingering viruses and bacteria.
(10) WASH YOUR HANDS–And oldie but goodie rule of thumb. According to the CDC, 80% of diseases are spread by hands 😨. If you dislike dry hands from washing, stock up on lotions, creams, and oils (take your pick). Parents, repeat this mantra to your kids over and over. It’s far better than getting yourself or others sick!