Flu Information

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December 28, 2009

Tips for Planning Ahead this Flu Season

A frequently asked question about flu is, “What’s the best way to plan ahead for flu season?” I took the opportunity to ask Dr. Rosenberg this very question and he provided me with some great information…which I am happy to share with you!

Dr. Rosenberg offered three simple steps for planning ahead for flu season – Get Vaccinated, Practice Good Hygiene, and Stay Home When Sick.

Here’s a bit more info on each of those steps:

Get Vaccinated

child-vaccinationThe first and most important thing you can do for yourself and your family is to get vaccinated for seasonal flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting vaccinated is the single best way to help prevent seasonal flu. Children are a main source for spreading flu so make sure you get them vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available, usually in September.

Practice Good Hygiene

Dr. Rosenberg explained the flu can spread through droplets that come from the nose and mouth, primarily through sneezing and coughing.

To avoid spreading germs he suggests being aware of the surfaces you touch and washing your hands frequently. Teach your kids to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze or cough and remember to disinfect commonly used work surfaces after touching them.

If You’re Sick, Stay Home!

This should be common sense, but it’s really one of the best ways to prevent spreading illness to others.

If you or your children are sick, take the time to recover at home. It’s better to stay home and recuperate than to go back to school or the office while still feeling under the weather and risk spreading your germs to others. Everyone will thank you for staying home!

Are their things that your office or child’s school are doing to decrease the risk of getting sick?

I have a friend whose work offered the flu vaccination at a discounted rate to employees during the work day. She said her work also set up antibacterial gel pumps around to help prevent the spread of germs on people’s hands.

For up-to-date, accurate information on seasonal flu and H1N1 (“swine flu”), feel free to browse the following sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

US Department of Health and Human Services
http://www.flu.gov

WebMD
http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/default.htm

December 16, 2009

Flu Basics: Remember the Three “F’s” When Treating Your Child’s Flu – Foods, Fluids, Fever

sick child with feverHaving the flu isn’t fun for anyone-but it can be especially rough on our kids. I asked Dr. Rosenberg what parents should know when treating a child with flu at home. He gave me some simple, easy to remember advice: the three “F’s” – Foods, Fluids, and Fever.

Food

Although children with the flu often can’t stomach regular meals or just may not be hungry, they still need nourishment to keep their bodies strong to fight the illness. Try giving your child something that is light and can be easily digested. Options to try include rice, crackers, toast, soup, bananas or gelatin.

Fluids

A fever can cause children to lose fluids more quickly than usual, so it’s important to keep them well-hydrated while they are sick. Remember children may not always tell you when they are thirsty, so encourage them to drink throughout the day. Try sticking to light colored drinks like water, ginger ale, clear soda, or a sports drink.

Fever

Over-the-counter medications, such as Children’s Tylenol, can help to ease the symptoms of the flu. Just remember to read and follow the label carefully to make sure you give the proper amount of medication to your children. I hope you find these tips from Dr. Rosenberg useful!

Feel free to leave your comments, suggestions or insights in the comments below.

For additional information and tips on treating a child with flu at home, you can also check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Web site at www.cdc.gov.

Here’s to a speedy recovery!

December 11, 2009

I’m in New York City…

I’m currently in NYC for a busy and exciting two days participating in television interviews with Dr. Mark Rosenberg, associate professor in Clinical Pediatrics at Northwestern University, and offering helpful information on how to combat the flu this season.

Teaming up with Dr. Rosenberg has made me even more excited about this partnership and I can’t wait to share with you all the tips and information you’ll need this cold and flu season.

How to Tell the Difference…

Let’s start with one question that I know is on many minds…
how to tell the difference between the common cold and the flu.

Dr. Rosenberg provided great insight, explaining that cold and flu symptoms are often very similar, because they both affect your upper respiratory tract — meaning your sinuses, nose and throat.

Cold Flu
  • Runny nose/watery eyes
  • Stuffy nose/congestion
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Body aches and chills
  • Fatigue/weakness
  • Fever/chills
  • Cough/stuffy nose

Remember, the flu can be caught at any point during the year, but it’s more common during the winter months.

Tips to Safeguard Your Family

Here are some tips on ways to help safeguard your family from the flu:

  • Stay hydrated: juices, herbal teas and canned soup are great to have on hand to keep you hydrated while still providing essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Stock up on Tissues: using tissues helps prevent the spreading of airborne germs.
  • Keep your immune system in check: eat balanced meals, incorporate daily exercise and get plenty of sleep.
  • Disinfect: the most crucial way to prevent the spread of germs is to wash your hands or use hand sanitizers as often as possible; keep TV remote in a plastic baggie and change often; wipe phone receivers and computer keyboards down with alcohol on a cotton ball or other sanitizer after each person’s use.

As we all know, it can be a challenge to get your kids excited about washing their hands, so I asked Dr. Rosenberg about it. He suggested practicing the following will help keep this from being a chore:

handwashing

  • Use playful soap, such as animal and fruit shapes or bright colors.
  • Sing while you clean. Tell them to wash their hands for as long as it takes them to sing their ABCs or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.
  • Put cartoon stickers on soap dispensers so the characters can help “fight germs” with your kids.

Always make sure your kids use liquid or a clean bar of soap, scrub for 15-20 seconds, use warm, running water to rinse and dry their hands with a clean towel.

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