Children can get the cold as many as eight to 12 times a year, especially young children whose immune systems are still developing. An adult gets two to four colds a year. Children below 5 years old are also at high risk for flu complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These complications include conditions like bronchitis and pneumonia. The worst part is the flu is a highly contagious respiratory virus, according to Harvard Health. Keep your family healthy and happy by practicing measures to help prevent the flu and colds. 1. Get your daily dose of vitamins Can vitamin C help fight off colds? Yes, research shows it does, BUT you have to get enough of it every day and not just when you feel you’re about to get sick. “Our bodies don't make vitamin C, but we need it for immune function, bone structure, iron absorption, and healthy skin,” said Harvard Health. “If you want the benefits of vitamin C, you'll need to consume it every day, and not just at the start of cold symptoms.”
Moreover, experts say it’s still best to get vitamins from meals than via supplements. “It's better to get vitamin C from food because you also get other important nutrients. Eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day for general health, and you'll get enough vitamin C,” said Dr. Bruce Bistrian, the chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Samples of vitamin C-rich produce include citrus fruits like oranges and green vegetables.
Too much does no good either. “At doses above 400 mg, vitamin C is excreted in the urine. A daily dose of 2,000 mg or more can cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and it may interfere with tests for blood sugar,” added Harvard Health.
2. Make hand washing a habit for everyone There’s no way around it — the whole family should have a habit of washing their hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and when preparing food. Washing with soap and water for 20 seconds is ideal. How long should the handwashing take? Let them sing or hum “Happy birthday” twice, says the CDC. If soap and water are not available, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol may be used.
“[Handwashing] protects kids from illness by getting rid of germs and protects against the spread of infectious agents to others,” pediatrician Dr. Carmina Delos Reyes told SmartParenting.com.ph.
3. Learn and practice cough manners The flu and other serious respiratory illnesses like a whooping cough are spread through coughs, sneezing, and unclean hands which is why the Department of Health (DOH) encourages everyone to practice “cough manners.”
Teach your kids what to do when they cough or someone around them does. As much as possible, coughing or sneezing should be done into a tissue or handkerchief to avoid getting others sick. If not, cough, or sneeze into your elbow — not into your hands. Remind the kids that it's okay to cover their mouth and nose, too, when someone near them coughs or sneezes.
4. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces “A few minutes killing germs can go a long way toward keeping your family healthy,” said the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Wipe down areas of your home your family touches a lot, like doorknobs, light switches, cabinet and drawer handles, faucets, remote controls, keyboards, and even stove knobs.
If you're looking to avoid toxic substances, there are other options to choose from too. “Alternative or less toxic cleaners are made from ingredients such as baking soda, liquid soap, and vinegar,” said the AAP.
5. Get the flu vaccine every year Flu vaccination season in the Philippines is every March and April — don’t miss it! Everyone in the family should get it, but it’s an absolute must for “children between 6 months and 5 years of age, people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease, and people 50 years old and older,” said Dr. Eduardo Gonzales in a column for Manila Bulletin.
If your baby is younger than six months, CDC advises you and others who care for your baby, to get vaccinated. “You should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu,” doctors say, especially because this age group is at high risk of serious flu complications.
Of course, strengthen the immune system as well. Make sure everyone gets enough sleep, is physically active, and drinks lots of fluids too, advised the CDC. Moms and dads, keeping stress to a minimum helps, too!