The 2019-2020 flu season is shaping up to be one of the more deadly in recent memory. With 14,000 deaths (92 of those pediatric deaths), 250,000 hospitalizations, and nearly 26 million diagnoses in the United States alone, protecting you and your family’s health is critical and imperative.
The high mortality rate associated with this year’s flu virus paired with the global threat of the deadly coronavirus has sounded the alarm in American households and motivated families to seek active steps to improve their immunity and reduce their chance of contracting the flu or developing dangerous complications if they catch the virus.
Young children are especially at a high risk of flu-related complications and mortality because their immune system is not fully developed yet and does not have the same capability to fight off the flu as adults do.
Seniors also have an increased chance of developing dangerous complications from the flu virus. It is, therefore, imperative to prioritize the health of the vulnerable members of your household during the flu season.
Despite the concerning statistics, there are a few important steps every caring mom and household can take to limit exposure, improve immunity, and reduce severity and complications once contracted.
Here we outline some of the most effective methods for protecting your child and household during aggressive flu seasons.
Prioritize Hand Hygiene
It might sound like a no-brainer but the most effective way of avoiding the flu is to prioritize proper hygiene. Training your child to regularly wash hands with hot water and soap especially before eating and after returning home from the outside, can drastically reduce the chance of catching the flu.
It is also wise to always carry sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer to wipe public surfaces like doorknobs, stair railings, etc. Training kids to not touch their face with dirty hands and use proper hygiene from a young age is the most effective way of keeping them healthy during the flu season.
Cover That Mouth When Coughing/Sneezing
One of the fastest ways of spreading the flu virus is by open coughing or sneezing. Training your child (and the entire family) to cover the mouth when sneezing or coughing is extremely important to your maintaining your family’s health and preventing the virus from spreading should one member of the family become sick.
Avoid non-essential air travel when possible
Traveling especially on planes or long bus rides during the flu season guarantees a considerably strong risk of exposure to the flu vaccine. We recommend avoiding air travel during the flu season when possible, especially with young children. If you must travel, make sure to take active steps to reduce exposure and boost your immunity. Here are a few frequent flyer tips for staying healthy on long flights.
The most effective way to protect your child during the flu season is to get the entire family vaccinated for the flu every season. Getting the flu vaccine is especially important for young children as 75% of pediatric flu-related deaths were children who had not received the flu vaccine. Even though the flu vaccine does not guarantee that your child won’t catch the flu, it has been proven to significantly reduce the complications associated with it. Flu vaccines are readily available at doctor’s offices and in pharmacies across some states.
Keep up with wellness regimens
A strong immune system is the most powerful line of defense against the flu. Even though the children’s immune system is not fully developed and strong, there are simple steps you can take to help strengthen your child’s immune defenses by ensuring adequate sleep, providing a nutritious diet high in vitamins and minerals like greens, vegetables, and fruits while avoiding sugary and processed foods. Depending on your child’s age, you might also like to consider supplements like Zinc, Vitamin C, Echinacea, and Oregano oil to help boost immune functions. Always make sure to consult your doctor before giving your child any supplements.
Keep sinuses moist
Proper moisture in the nasal passages and sinuses is critical for your child and household’s wellbeing, especially during the cold and dry seasons. Most viruses are transmitted through the nose; moist and healthy nasal passages are better equipped to fight off viruses. Consider using both a humidifier and saline nasal spray safe for kids to ensure properly moisturized and healthy sinuses.
If your child catches the flu despite your diligent efforts, there are active steps you can take to help ease the discomfort and prevent dangerous complications. The most important step you can take is to continuously monitor symptoms like fever, dehydration, and difficulty breathing. Since children’s immune system is not fully developed yet, the severity of their symptoms might shift very quickly as their body attempts to fight off the virus. Seek professional care if your child’s fever is over 101 degrees, for children under 3 months old, call your doctor if temperatures rise above 100.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
As the body tries to fight off the virus, it requires large amounts of liquids to regulate temperatures and release toxins through the urine and sweat. It is important to provide large amounts of liquids to your child; electrolyte-infused water, decaffeinated tea, fresh-squeezed juice, and bone broth are great options to ensure proper hydration. Isolate when possible
Some flu seasons tend to be more aggressive than others which place an especially great risk on the young children, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems. Getting the flu vaccine is the most effective step you can take to protect your family. Getting the flu vaccine paired with behavioral and lifestyle changes that limit exposure, boost immunity and reduce complications offer your family the best chance to ward off aggressive flu strains.