HEALTH

Protect Your Family Cold And Flu

Fight The Flu A New Way Don't Wait Fight Flu Get A Flu Shot Immunizations: Stay Healthy Cold Season Tips Wash Away Germs Flu Season Managing Kids And Colds

Protect Your Family During Cold And Flu Season

(NAPSI)—According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 22 million school days are lost annually due to the common cold—but a little care can help you protect your family.

Most parents have faced this difficult scenario at some point: Your child comes home from school with a cold or, worse, the flu. Soon enough, you have it, too. Flash forward two weeks and some form of a cold or the flu has made it through the ranks of your entire family.

While there's no surefire way to completely prevent these viruses, there are simple solutions to help keep your family healthy during cold and flu season. Here, Kevin Ronneberg, M.D., associate medical director, Target, offers his flu-proof tips:

Get vaccinated. Protect yourself and your family by getting vaccinated. Prevention is the key to staying healthy during cold and flu season.

Disinfect your home. Keep your house clean and germ-free by regularly wiping down surfaces and high hand-traffic areas with a gentle yet effective cleaning solution that's nontoxic and safe for pets and young children.

Clean up after playtime. Avoid spreading the germs your kids may have picked up while sharing toys by washing their hands immediately following playtime. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Stay hydrated. Dehydration doesn't just occur during hot weather. Cold weather and hot and dry buildings promote dehydration, too. Dehydration can leave your body more susceptible to common colds and the flu, so drink up.

Get up and go. During moderate exercise, immune cells circulate more quickly through the body and increase their ability to kill bacteria and viruses. Exercising on a daily basis also builds your immunity over time.

Think twice before you share. Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils or lip gloss. Germs can easily carry from one person to the other. Even if you feel well, flu symptoms can take one to three days to appear following exposure—you may be spreading illness and not even know it.

Cover up that cough. Help prevent the spread of viruses by teaching your kids to cough or sneeze into the crook of their arm, sleeve or inside of their jacket or sweater.

If you think the flu is something to sneeze at, think again. The flu causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations annually, with more than 20,000 of those being children. Protect your family and get vaccinated this cold and flu season. Flu vaccines are available now at any Target Pharmacy, with no appointment necessary.

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Face Up To A New Way To Fight The Flu

(NAPSI)—This year's flu season is now in full swing and hitting earlier and stronger than anytime in the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While the flu is nothing to sneeze at—one out of every five people in the United States today is affected by the flu and an average of 200,000 people are hospitalized each year with flu complications, according to the CDC—there are three simple preventative steps to ward off the flu.

What To Do About The Flu

1. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. While there are many flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the most common. The HealthMap Vaccine Finder at http://flushot.healthmap.org can help you find nearby spots for shots.

2. Wash hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as germs spread this way.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

3. Wear a face mask to reduce the risk of spreading germs or from contaminating the people around you if you are sick.

Traditional face masks act only as an air filter and do nothing to neutralize the harmful germs that remain active on the mask itself, but there's an FDA-cleared antiviral medical face mask that actually inactivates 99.99 percent of tested flu viruses within five minutes of contact. "BioMask should be one of the most important items in any home's medicine cabinet or traveling first aid kit, right alongside hand antiseptics, adhesive bandages, alcohol pads, tape and exam gloves," said Lorri A. Downs, BSN, MS, RN, CIC. "BioMask can help protect patients who are at home and especially at-risk groups such as children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immunities, as well as health care workers."

The mask, which recently won the Chicago Innovation Award for its potential to protect against the flu, works by using proprietary Ionixx technology that incorporates three natural and safe ingredients—citric acid, zinc and copper. A specially absorbent coating on the outside quickly wicks droplets away from the surface to where the low pH in citric acid begins to inactivate viruses on contact. The droplet then lands on the mask's inner blue layer, where any remaining viruses are inactivated by copper and zinc, which are toxic to pathogens.

It's sold under Medline's CURAD brand name and available at major retail chains, including Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, Target, Meijer, Albertsons and Winn-Dixie.

Learn More

You can find further facts on face masks at www.medline.com/CURAD-BioMask and 866-940-9216.

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Don't Wait When Fighting The Flu: A Mom's Story

(NAPSI)—There are three important questions to which every parent should have the answer: How do you know if your child has the flu and not a cold? Should you wait to see if his or her symptoms improve before calling the doctor? What if symptoms worsen?

Influenza, "the flu," can come on quickly, typically from one to four days after a person is exposed to the virus, and, importantly, some symptoms can be similar to the common cold. The flu, however, is much worse. Each year, more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized due to the flu and, tragically, most years, more than 100 children die from this disease.

Signs To Watch For

So how can you tell if it's the flu? Symptoms usually include:

• Fever

• Headache

• Extreme tiredness

• Dry cough

• Sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle aches

• In children: nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Doctor's Advice

"It's difficult for young children to communicate exactly what or how they're feeling," said Dr. Matthew J. Cory, pediatrician and medical director at Lakeside Pediatrics in Lakeland, Florida and medical adviser to Families Fighting Flu, a national nonprofit organization. "As a result, it's up to parents to be alert to notice when their child's activity level or behaviors change, signaling the possible symptoms of the flu. Because the flu affects children in different ways, it is always advisable to seek medical attention as quickly as possible."

How to Prevent the Flu

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated for the flu each and every year—and it's not too late in the season to do so.

"Getting an annual flu vaccine is the single best preventative measure that parents should take to help protect children from the flu," said Laura Scott, executive director of Families Fighting Flu. "Members of our organization include families whose children have suffered serious medical complications or died from influenza, and we share our stories to raise awareness about this potentially devastating disease in the hopes that others won't have to endure similar hardships."

One Mom's Story

"My husband and I were so excited for Charlie's second birthday party," recounts Jennifer, a Families Fighting Flu member. "A few days before her party, we started noticing a change in her normally chipper personality. She became very quiet, listless and tired and ultimately developed a fever over 100 degrees. Fearful that she might miss her birthday party, we took her to the pediatrician right away. We were expecting her doctor to say she 'just had a little bug' and would be fine in a day or two. We were shocked when the doctor came back with a diagnosis of the flu. We didn't even know anyone who had the flu.

"Immediately, her doctor gave her Tamiflu since she had been diagnosed early enough, but over the next week, Charlie hardly moved, not even to watch cartoons. Her temperature never went below 100 degrees but would reach as high as 103 degrees. I could just tell how much her body ached because she would moan and cry when I changed her.

"Charlie's birthday party was canceled. I know it sounds trivial now, but at the time I was so disappointed; however, I'm thankful because we aren't a family that typically rushes off to the doctor for every sniffle. Having grown up with a 'tough it out' mentality, we normally would have given Charlie some over-the-counter medicine and waited it out. Charlie has since made a full recovery but had it not been for her getting sick right before her birthday party, chances are we may not have taken her to the doctor so quickly. I urge all parents to not only get your family vaccinated against the flu every year but always pay close attention to your child's behaviors, which can give you important clues about his or her overall health."

More Information

Flu vaccines are available in a variety of places like doctor's offices, pharmacies and supermarkets. Essential resources about flu prevention, including a flu clinic locator and an educational toolkit, are available at www.FamiliesFightingFlu.org.

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Spread Cheer, Not the Flu, Throughout the Winter—Put Health First this Season by Getting a Flu Shot

(NAPSI)—The winter season with its many holidays is an important time for families to get together and share traditions among generations. Unfortunately, too often it is also a time to share colds and flu. While hygiene measures, such as covering coughs and sneezes, washing and disinfecting hands and frequently touched surfaces, and limiting contact with others when sick, can help reduce the spread of respiratory illness, when it comes to the flu, the best way to avoid infection is to get a flu shot.

Influenza viruses spread easily from person to person in droplets created when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk—from as far as 6 feet away. In addition, when people get the flu, they can pass the virus on to someone else before they even know they are sick. Flu symptoms typically don't appear until one to four days after the virus enters the body. During this time, people may still spread the virus to others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual influenza vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. Since infants younger than 6 months of age cannot receive the flu vaccine, it is especially important for family members and caregivers to get immunized.

Adults 65 and older are also especially vulnerable to the complications of influenza, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), whose Flu + You initiative is educating seniors and their families about the risks of influenza and the importance of getting an annual flu shot.

"The NCOA knows how important the holidays are to older adults and their families," said Rick Birkel, PhD, MPA, Senior Vice President of Healthy Aging, Director of the Self-Management Alliance at NCOA. "This is why we are urging families to take steps to help protect themselves from the flu."

No matter how healthy or youthful a senior may feel, the body's immune system, and its ability to fight illness, weakens with age, making them more susceptible to the flu and its complications. In fact, an estimated 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations each year occur in people 65 years and older. Flu can be especially dangerous for seniors with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or diabetes. Hospitalizations for these chronic conditions typically also increase during flu season.

"Nationwide, 91 percent of adults 65 years of age and older have at least one chronic condition and 76 percent have two or more," said Birkel. "So most older adults are not only at increased risk of influenza because of their age, they also have other factors increasing their risk of complications should they contract the flu."

So while washing your hands can be beneficial, take the next step to help protect the whole family by getting a flu shot. It's not too late. The peak of flu season occurs anywhere from late November through March. In fact, as long as influenza viruses are in circulation, even in the spring, it is beneficial to get vaccinated. After immunization, it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to help protect against the virus.

This season, influenza vaccines are plentiful and widely available for all ages. Adults 65 years and older have two vaccine options, says NCOA's Birkel—the traditional flu shot and a higher-dose flu shot developed to address the natural weakening of the immune system that comes with age. Both flu vaccine options are covered in full by Medicare Part B for those 65 years and older with no co-pay and are available across the country at physicians' offices, pharmacies and many other providers.

For more information on the flu vaccine or to find a flu vaccine provider near you visit http://www.flu.gov, and for more information on influenza and vaccination specifically for seniors and their caregivers visit www.NCOA.org/Flu.

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Immunizations: Key For Staying Healthy

(NAPSI)—While most Americans know they need an annual flu shot, not everyone is aware of all the other viruses easily preventable by immunization.

The Problems

One problem is that the United States is experiencing its most severe whooping cough outbreak in 50 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there have been at least 10,000 more cases than last year. Yet a recent Walgreens survey suggests that fewer than one-third of Americans have been immunized against it and just under half of respondents say they would be likely to adhere to the CDC's recommendation for the vaccine. Another is that the aging baby boomer population means thousands of U.S. adults are at greater risk for shingles every day. Shingles, a painful rash on the body caused by a long-dormant chicken pox virus, will affect one in three Americans at some point, the CDC says. The only proactive, preventive measure you can take to help prevent shingles, along with maintaining a strong immune system, is the Zostavax vaccine. Despite the growing risks associated with these viruses, more than 40 percent of American adults surveyed don't know what immunizations are currently recommended and which ones they may need, according to the Walgreens Immunization Index. This general lack of awareness may also mean that millions of Americans are left unprotected.

An Answer

To protect yourself and those around you, have a regular dialogue with your doctor, pharmacist or other clinician and keep immunizations up to date.

Vaccinations Made Easier

To make it more convenient for adults to learn which immunizations they may be due or even overdue for, Walgreens offers an immunization assessment, free with every flu shot at its pharmacies. The assessment is one of the ways the pharmacy chain is working to educate adults about immunizations, CDC recommendations and the latest, most important health information.

What you can do to help your pharmacist provide you with the best care:

• Don't wait until the last minute. When your kids encounter the flu, it may be too late to protect yourself and your family. It takes two weeks to build up full immunity after getting a flu shot, so don't wait-shots now protect you throughout the season.

• Have your insurance card or information. Flu shots are covered by Medicare Part B as well as many insurance plans-often with no out-of-pocket cost to the patient and available to be billed directly to your provider.

• Check the schedule. There are helpful resources such as the CDC at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/ that list recommended vaccines. You can also ask your doctor or get a free immunizations assessment through Walgreens, which offers flu shots and other immunizations daily.

Get Further Information

Learn more about vaccines from your doctor and online at www.walgreens.com/flu.

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Cold Season Tips

(NAPSI)—It's nothing to sneeze at: The average adult catches two to four colds every year, causing millions of workdays to be lost. The good news is that there are natural ways to lessen the impact of such illnesses.

First, get a good night's sleep to help boost immunity. The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least seven to nine hours for adults.

It's also important to stay hydrated and to eat a diet that is rich in vitamin C and nutrient dense foods.

If you have a sore throat, drink a hot beverage or gargle with a solution of water and about a teaspoon of salt.

When it comes to seasonal illness, prevention is key. Try to avoid close contact with those who are obviously unwell or who have upper respiratory illnesses. Blow your nose gently but frequently to keep nasal passages clear. To protect others, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands often using water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Encourage children to take the same preventative measures.

Colds aren't the only problem to avoid: Sinus infections and inflamed sinuses affect millions of Americans each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of a humidifier to moisten air in the home.

While many reach for traditional medicines to treat coughs, colds and sinus issues, at least 38 percent of adults use complementary and alternative medicine to treat common illnesses. Unlike most traditional medicines, homeopathic products are formulated to stimulate the body's defense mechanisms, rather than suppress them. (These statements are based on traditional homeopathic practice. They have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.)

For example, Hyland's line of DEFEND products offers adults all-natural, sugar-free, multisymptom relief from nasal congestion, sore throat, coughing and sneezing and doesn't contain diphenhydramine, dextromethorphan or phenylephrine.

For more health tips and information about natural medicine, visit www.hylands.com. Hyland's products are available in natural food stores, groceries, supercenters and pharmacies such as Walgreens.

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Wash Away Germs To Keep Baby Healthy This Cold And Flu Season

(NAPSI)—As winter nears, so does the threat of germs, including those that cause a cold and the flu. Keeping schoolchildren healthy is hard enough, and infants are even more vulnerable to common viruses. While it is impossible to ward off every germ that comes in contact with children, there are preventative measures that can be done in the home.

Studies have found that day-to-day items harbor countless bacteria and germs, with some researchers saying cell phones hold more germs than toilets. Often, parents don't realize that the hand they used to hold the bacteria-infested cell phone is the same one that picks up their baby.

Frequent hand washing and disinfecting surfaces can make a huge impact on helping the family stay healthy during cold and flu season. Unfortunately, this isn't always enough if the surfaces where infants sleep and play aren't sufficiently cleaned.

To help in the battle against the cold and flu, new health-smart choices have arrived in the infant section, including a clever playard from InGenuity by Bright Starts that goes where no playard has ever gone before: the washing machine. This option is particularly effective as cold and flu viruses hit their peak; the machine washing allows not just dirt to be removed, but also aids in the removal of germs, allergens and bacteria to provide baby with a clean place to play and nap.

This flu season, take proactive measures to keep children healthy by ensuring they get enough rest, the whole family is washing their hands often and, most importantly, germ-prone areas are sanitized and clean.

Learn More at www.babiesrus.com.

 

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Managing Kids And Colds

(NAPSI)—According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children typically catch six to eight colds each year. While there is no cure for this seasonal illness, there are several things parents can do to boost their child's immunity.

First, it's important to encourage children to get plenty of sleep, stay well hydrated and eat a diet rich in nutritious foods.

Good hygiene can reduce the spread of germs, particularly in a school setting where children share many common items. It's important to teach kids to wash their hands the right way, scrubbing them all over with soap for at least 20 seconds and drying them with a clean paper towel. Children should also be encouraged not to share eating or drinking utensils or to put objects in their mouths.

To help reduce the spread of cold and flu viruses, children should learn to sneeze and cough into the back of their hand or their elbow crease. To keep nasal passages clear, have children blow their noses gently but often and use a humidifier at home to keep the air moist.

Sore throats can be soothed with warm drinks, while older children can gargle with a mild saline solution. Always check with a doctor if a child's sore throat is severe or if symptoms indicate a serious illness.

Following a statement by the FDA discouraging the use of cough and cold medicine in children under 2 years of age, many parents prefer to use safe and effective homeopathic medicines. Unlike conventional over-the-counter cold and cough medicines that suppress symptoms, homeopathic medicines work with the body's own natural defenses to relieve the symptoms of seasonal illness. Homeopathic medicines are safe even for very young children: Hyland's Baby Tiny Cold Tablets and Hyland's Baby Cough Syrup are specially formulated for infants 6 months and up. These statements are based on traditional homeopathic practice. They have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Visit www.hylands.com and www.hylandsbaby.com for more information about natural medicine. Hyland's products are available nationally in natural food stores, groceries, supercenters and pharmacies such as Walgreens.

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