Everyday Tips to Avoid Flu, Cold Viruses

CHKD Hampton Roads Pediatrics

By Sangita KhanalDhakal, FNP-C February 20, 2023

We are exposed to germs all day, every day. Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system — your nose, throat, and lungs. Typical flu symptoms include fever, body aches, headache, sore throat, cough, tiredness, and runny and stuffy nose. Some people may have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The common cold also has similar symptoms that typically go away after a few days, but the flu can cause severe problems and lead to pneumonia.

How can we protect ourselves and our families from getting sick and prevent the spread of germs? These tips can help keep you and your family healthy.

When possible, limit or avoid contact with people who are sick.

If your child has the flu, try to keep them away from others in the household.

Keep sick children home until they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours – without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.

Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Be sure to wash your hands when returning home from work, and encourage your children to wash theirs when they get home from school. Always wash your hands after using the bathroom.

Have children change into play clothes after returning home from school. To keep germs away, adults who work in the service industry or in shared office spaces should also change clothes when they get home.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs are easily spread this way.

Eat a balanced and healthy diet.

Clean and disinfect hard surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs, including bathroom and kitchen counters and children’s toys. Clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

While these steps can help keep you and your family from getting sick, a yearly flu vaccine is the best protection against flu illness. Flu season usually starts in September and peaks from December to February. With the increased risk of COVID, it is crucial to have children 6 months and older vaccinated.

If you think your child has the flu, call your pediatrician. Children with the flu, especially those with a chronic underlying condition like asthma, sometimes need prescription antiviral medications.