Tips To Navigate the Cough, Cold, and Flu Season

‘Tis the season of cough, cold, flu—you name it. In our school community and communities of family life, it is an ever-present reality this time of year—somebody always has something to fight off or something to avoid catching!

Make no mistake, I do not possess the secret to perfect health and I am not a physician—I am just a mom of a bunch of little people. I am, however, happy to offer some helpful tips of what seems to help my family navigate this time of year and to perhaps help your family in some small way too.

My basic approach follows the following six principles:
1) Fortifying the fort
2) Hygiene attentiveness
3) Home court advantage
4) Using antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral agents
5) Reducing inflammation
6) Promoting circulation

Fortifying the Fort
I am a firm believer that your best defense is a good offence. What I mean by “fortifying the fort” is taking extra care to build up your body and its natural defenses this time of year. I am mainly talking about eating a common sense diet, taking vitamins, and getting adequate sleep and fluids—eating what you know you should and limiting what you know you should, especially the sugars and junk food that seem to be in super abundance with holidays. I make sure we have plenty of fruits rich in Vitamin C like clementines and mandarin oranges; grapes tend to be on sale right now, and many think grape juice helps with stomach bugs so why not eat a bunch of grapes instead! The winters that I have been particularly diligent about making sure everyone is taking his or her daily vitamins have by far been our healthiest. The world of vitamins and supplements is vast, and I have heard many times that “you get what you pay for”. While I think there is some truth to that statement, I’m also not willing to spend a small fortune on the costliest supplements for ten people in our house! Generally I buy vitamins that are somewhere in the middle of the road price-wise or brands that seem to value quality across the board. Daily multivitamins with iron as well as an additional Vitamin C supplement are a must for the whole family. I also keep probiotics in the fridge for all ages that we take intermittently or at the first sign of any digestive unrest. We make sure everyone gets adequate sleep or more hours of sleep if actively sick. Outside of breakfast, tea and water are pretty much all we drink—the more the merrier.

Hygiene Attentiveness
A little bit of soap and water goes a long way. Obviously keeping up with basic house cleaning in all public areas as well as bedding is a necessity. I keep spray disinfectants in the bathrooms and around the house to use if someone is actively ill or I am delayed in getting to the weekly house cleaning of bathrooms in particular. I keep hand sanitizers in the kitchen and bathrooms as well as several hand sanitizers in our family vehicle for all to use if we have been out shopping or just in many different public places this time of year with no other opportunity to wash hands. If someone is sick, there is a lot of hand washing going on and attentiveness to keeping little noses wiped and cleaned. After wiping or cleaning a little face, I often apply a little coconut oil around the nose and cheeks to keep things from getting sore and chapped. Coconut oil has many antimicrobial qualities to boot!

Home Court Advantage
Be proactive in treating illness while the ball is still in your court! Our bodies want to be healthy. It is easier for the body if you can catch what is going on right away and start treating/helping it fight off illness early. It is easy to just let a cold or illness develop just because we often don’t want to take the time to treat it! Take the time and treat it.

Using Antibacterial, Antimicrobial, Antiviral Agents
Outside of soap and hand sanitizer, I use a wide variety of home remedies for every particular illness, but here are a few things I make sure we have on hand: hydrogen peroxide, smart silver, grape fruit seed extract, probiotics, coconut oil, honey, salt, essential oils, Vick’s, Emergen-C, cough drops and a few homeopathic remedies. The main thing, I think, is to pick your treatment and begin! If something doesn’t seem to be helping in 12-24 hours, then I shift gears and tweak my treatment.

Reducing Inflammation
Our bodies want to be better so bad that often the first thing to get way off balance is inflammation due to the rush of help from the body’s resources. Inflammation can really gum up the works very quickly and exacerbate the problem. I keep anti-inflammatory medicines and fever reducers in stock at home as well and often use them at the onset of illness to help keep things circulating. This leads right to my final principle.

Promoting Circulation
Some of what I said earlier applies here too. I use multivitamins with iron specifically because it helps move oxygen and Vitamin C around the body. I push water and tea to keep things moving. I use cough drops and sometimes Vick’s and oils to help open up airways and help coughs be productive. Probiotics help keep the digestive tract moving. I also use humidifiers all around our house in the winter. Keeping mucous membranes moist help keep things properly moving throughout the body.

Final thought: be patient and persistent. There is many a good beginning with a bad end, as the saying goes. Even wonder drugs like antibiotics most often take several doses for several days to be effective. While I have often seen the right home remedy be amazingly effective when applied at the right time, more often, even the best remedies take time and persistence and repeat treatment for lasting effect. So, take the time and treat it and then keep on treating it until you either have a break through and be on your merry way or break down and need professional help. So much more could be said about all of these areas not to mention exercise and fresh air as well! I do hope that you may find this short list helpful in some way, and I wish you all a very happy and healthy winter!

Post by: Jan Akers, Chelsea Parent

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