Helping your Teens Bounce Back from Colds and Flu This Winter
Teenagers can be highly susceptible to catching colds and flu. A less-than-ideal diet, variable hygiene and a tendency to huddle in close groups and share things such as game controllers, means that colds can travel between a group of teens like wildfire.
When teens or ‘tweenies’ are poorly, it can take every ounce of patience you have to look after them. Playing nurse to a big kid with the flu or cold can feel like a full-time occupation. Apart from the usual germs that are passed around during the winter months, caring for poorly youngsters also leaves parents wide open to picking up any nasty viruses they may be harbouring.
When your kids are sick, it provides the perfect environment for germs to spread quickly and easily. But just how do you avoid catching the dreaded cold or flu from your ‘little darlings’ whilst helping them to shake off their lurgy as quickly as possible? These five tips will help you stay healthy while you’re caring for a grateful (or otherwise!) teen who is under the weather.
1. Teach your teens about good hygiene
Even the grubbiest teen can be encouraged to use tissues (rather than a sleeve) effectively. Teach them that they should always blow their nose, or catch a sneeze in a tissue and pop it in the bin straight away. If soreness is an issue, suggest a little petroleum jelly to stop the redness around the nose or using tissues with built-in balm.
2. Keep washing your hands
The main way colds get passed around is when someone who’s sick coughs or sneezes and transfers bacteria into the air or onto surfaces. The force of the sneeze sprays tiny little droplets of moisture containing germs all over the place, making them easy to pick up. By washing your hands throughout the day using an antibacterial soap – and encouraging your teen to do the same – you can help to keep the bugs at bay.
For best results, make sure that you scrub them for at least 20 seconds with soap, and be sure to go at least as far up as your wrist.
3. Eat Well
A nutritious diet and plenty of fresh air and exercise give everyone the best chance of avoiding being knocked out by a nasty cold or flu bug. However, if your teen’s regular diet features more MSG than vitamin C, it may be time for some drastic action: when you are feverish and fighting infection, you need plenty of good nutrition; foods such home-made chicken soup are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories are ideal. One of our favourites is this one featured in Athletics Weekly.
Encouraging them to eat fruit and vegetables high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, potatoes and dark green leafy vegetables will also help to give your young person’s body the nutrients it needs to defend itself. Jamie Oliver’s recent Superfoods campaign has lots of great ideas for how to incorporate more immune-boosting foods into our diet.
4. Wash away any lingering germs
Live influenza viruses can linger on doorknobs, taps, cupboard handles and things like the TV remote for anything from two hours to two days. To protect other members of the family from falling prey to cold viruses, make sure that you regularly clean any surfaces that may have been touched by your flu-infested teenager. Normal household soap or disinfectant wipes are all effective at diluting the virus so it becomes less potent and help to reduce the risk of germs spreading.
5. Feed their immune system
The medicinal herb Echinacea has traditionally been used both to prevent common colds, or to help reduce the length and severity of symptoms if you do catch one. According to research by the University of Connecticut, Echinacea can cut the chances of catching a common cold by 58% and reduce the duration of the common cold by one-and-a-half days.
You can start taking Echinacea as soon as the winter starts to help reduce the likelihood of getting a cold. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you keep your Vitamin C levels up and that you take extra zinc to ensure that you stay in good health through the winter. HRI Cold & Flu Echinacea™ is a traditional herbal medicinal product used to relieve the symptoms of the common cold and influenza (flu) type infections based on traditional use only.
Each HRI Cold & Flu Echinacea™ tablet contains 56mg of extract from Echinacea purpurea root equivalent to 338-450mg of Echinacea. It is recommended for children over 12 years of age only.
Armed with this advice, we hope that you and your family enjoy a happy and healthy winter, hopefully free from rotten colds and flu!