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3 ways to prevent cold and flu in your family

Cold and flu season is just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean your family has to get sick this winter. Outsmart germs by following a few simple tips.

Tip 1: Make sure everyone washes their hands.

One of the simplest, most effective ways to get rid of cold and flu bugs is regular handwashing. Teach your children to wash their hands with soap and warm water before meals and snacks, after blowing their nose, using the toilet, handling pets and as soon as they come home from school, the playground or a friend’s house. Don’t forget to also regularly wash your own hands before preparing food and after wiping runny noses. Ordinary soap and water is fine – you don’t need to spend extra on anti-bacterial soaps. You can make hand-washing more fun by using brightly coloured towels and soaps in fun shapes, colours and scents. When you are out and about, carry disposable wipes for quick clean-ups.

Tip 2: Boost your child’s immunity naturally.

Your child’s overall health can help their immune system fight germs naturally. Offer your kids a variety of healthy foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables such as carrots, green beans, oranges and strawberries which contain immunity-boosting phytonutrients like vitamin C. Make sure your children drink plenty of water. Should a cold start to take hold, then a bowl of warm chicken soup is a good source of fluids and may help relieve a sore throat and thin nasal secretions. Studies show that sleep deprivation can make our little ones (and adults too) more susceptible to illness, so ensure they are getting plenty of sleep. As the daylight hours shorten, try to get your child to bed a little earlier.

Tip 3: Get a jab.

An annual influenza (flu) vaccination is recommended for anyone aged over 6 months who wishes to reduce their chances of becoming ill with the flu. Influenza is a severe viral infection, and prevention is our biggest weapon. The flu vaccination decreases the risk of catching the flu, decreases the severity of the flu and also decreases the risk of transmission to other family members, particularly the young, ill and elderly in your community. Public health experts advise that the best time to be vaccinated against the flu is before the winter season arrives. The flu vaccination is updated each year to guard against the three or four most harmful strains present that year and so it is important for everyone to get vaccinated against the flu every year. Visit http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/ for more information.

Samuel Ledger, Pharmacist, CHC Pharmacy, Coffs Harbour

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