6 Doctor-Approved Tips to Help Avoid Colds & Flu This Season

It’s that time of year when the kids return from school with more than just homework and art projects in tow – they often bring germs home, too. And while we can’t keep ourselves or our kids from coming into contact with germs (which would ultimately be an unhealthy goal) we can take steps to reduce the likelihood that we’ll actually get sick. Notable New York City-based physician Dr. Keri Peterson explains how:

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  1. Wash hands the right way. You know that keeping your hands clean is essential to stop the spread of germs, but do you know how long you need to wash them to get them really clean? Peterson says in the time it takes you to wash your hands, you should be able to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  2. Keep your hands down. “Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth,” Peterson says. “These are a direct entry point for germs.” Statistically speaking, you touch your face about 16 times a day, but kids do so far more often (and are fond of shoving their fingers into their mouths and up their noses, as all moms know).
  3. Use a humidifier. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a cool mist humidifier through the dry winter months. Among other benefits, comfortable humidity can help reduce flu virus survival, which thrives in cool, dry places. “By keeping humidity levels in your home between 40 and 60 percent, you can reduce the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air,” says Peterson. To maintain comfortable humidity, Peterson recommends the Vicks Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier.
  4. Keep surfaces disinfected. “Germs live on surfaces and spread to humans through skin contact, so anything that we touch frequently can be a threat,” advises Peterson. She recommends the use of disinfectant wipes to wipe down your workspace daily, as well as your telephone, mouse, and keyboard. And of course don’t neglect to also disinfect doorknobs, shared electronics like TV remotes, and the kids’ toys, too.
  5. Don’t forget your flu shot! Vaccines are one of the marvels of modern medicine and the easiest way to avoid getting the flu. Babies can be vaccinated as early as 6 months old, and everyone eligible should get the flu vaccine yearly, Peterson says – ideally as soon as it’s made available.
  6. Don’t skimp on sleep. There is a strong link between sleep and immune function, so by getting inadequate sleep, you cripple your body’s ability to avoid or recover from illness. If you’ve already become sick, “[g]ive your body some much needed rest and avoid contact with others,” Peterson says. “If your child is sick, make sure to keep him or her home from school in order to prevent spreading the illness to other kids and their families.” Be sure to take your child’s temperature. The Vicks SmartTemp® Thermometer provides accurate readings and is compatible with a free downloadable app that makes it easy to take and track temperature readings for the whole family.

How do you keep your family healthy throughout the winter months?

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