Stay healthy this holiday season

And save money, too

With both Thanksgiving and Black Friday over and done, the holiday season is in full swing!

But so is the cold-and-flu season :/

Want to stay healthy and save some money? Here are some of my favorite cold-prevention, money-saving posts.

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Kids’ health – Avoid medication errors

The right medication at the right dose

The journal Pediatrics recently published a study that showed about 85% of parents make mistakes when measuring out doses of liquid over-the-counter medications.

That reminded me of this short video from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio talking about medication errors made by parents or other caregivers.

Using over 10 years of data from the National Poison Center, researchers found that children under the age of 6 are exposed to a medication error every 8 minutes: too much, too little, or the wrong drug altogether.

Most often, they found … Continue reading

Parents – Don’t use FluMist this flu season

Kids need flu shots!

Pediatricians recommend all children over the age of 6 months get a yearly flu shot.

In previous years, a nasal spray version of the flu vaccine, FluMist, has been available to parents who wanted to avoid subjecting their children to another needle jab.

But for the last 3 years FluMist has not been nearly as effective as the standard flu shot. So for the 2016-2017 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) are recommending against FluMist for flu prevention.

For the 2016-2017 flu season, the Advisory Committee on

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FDA finally bans triclosan, but only in soaps

triclosanTriclosan isn’t effective

Finally!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began drafting guidelines for the use of the popular antibacterial, triclosan, about 40 years ago.

Two years ago they announced they were ready to implement some much-needed oversight of this chemical. They asked the manufacturers of soaps and body washes to provide more evidence of both its effectiveness and safety.

Well, those companies came up short. Last week the FDA made its final decision to ban triclosan and some other chemicals used in “antibacterial” soaps.

Manufacturers haven’t shown that these ingredients are any more effective than plain

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Everything is filthy – Wash your hands!

Germs and travel

I recently returned from a road-trip vacation with a nasty summer cold. It was my own fault—I didn’t heed my own advice to wash my hands as frequently as I should have.

Related post: Hand washing 101

Our hands are responsible for bringing a lot of germs into our bodies. We touch our nose, eyes or mouth, or our food, and voilà! the germs have found a nice, new home.

Although we usually associate colds with the winter months, germs for colds and other common viral illnesses are all over objects we touch every day, year round.… Continue reading

Choose paper towels over air hand dryers

I just came back from vacation. Between airports, restaurants and public attractions, I washed my hands in a lot of public restrooms. I noticed that more places, especially newer ones, have installed high-tech hand dryers rather than paper towel dispensers. Some have both.

I usually use a paper towel because it’s faster and I can use it on the handle of the restroom as I’m leaving.

But I’ve never really considered if there’s a health difference between the two ways to dry your hands. Apparently, there is.

recent study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology compared how many germs … Continue reading

Kids and codeine cough syrup

Last month, a medical advisory group to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted “overwhelmingly” to limit the sale of codeine products without a prescription and advised drugs containing codeine should not be used to treat children or the majority of teens suffering from pain or a cough.” [my emphasis]

I knew you could buy codeine painkillers and cough syrups in Canada, but apparently you can in 28 states, as well. The FDA hasn’t acted on the advisory committee’s recommendation yet, so these products are still available over the counter.

Parents—be especially cautious when buying cough or cold medications … Continue reading

Stay healthy – FDA tips for colds and flu

fda healthy winter season psaCold and flu season is in full swing!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just released a public service announcement with tips to help people stay healthy this winter.

In addition to what we already know—but the basics bear repeating—such as get a flu shot and wash your hands frequently, their web page Get Set For a Healthy Winter Season also provides information about what to do if you’re already sick, how to choose over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu products, and when you should seek medical care.

Related post: Be informed – The best cold and flu medicines

The … Continue reading

Handwashing Awareness Week

I just learned that it’s National Handwashing Awareness Week!

That works in nicely with it also being National Flu Vaccination Week, as handwashing is your first line of defense against not only the flu virus, but all sorts of germs.

Related post: Handwashing 101

henry the handThe Henry the Hand Prevention Program, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), offers these 4 Principles of Hand Awareness:

1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and BEFORE eating
2. DO NOT cough into your hands
3. DO NOT sneeze into your hands
4. Above all, DO NOT

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2015 National Influenza Vaccination Week

Every fall I post my recommendation that everyone get a flu shot.

In support of this week being National Influenza Vaccination Week (what, you haven’t heard?), here is a pretty cool animated video from NPR: Flu Attack! How A Virus Invades Your Body

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which sponsors Vaccination Week, offers these key points on their seasonal flu webpage:

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza disease.
  • CDC and its partners want
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Cold or flu? Stay home!

Most doctors will advise you to stay home from work or school if you are sick. Not only do you need the rest, but if you are contagious with a cold or the flu or a stomach bug, you will pass your germs to many more people.

Well, apparently doctors don’t take their own advice!

A recent survey showed that most doctors do go to work when sick, even though they know they could infect their co-workers or patients.

A full 96 percent said they would work if they had symptoms of a cold, 77 percent said they would

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Seasonal flu shots

It’s October and time for my annual reminder for everyone age 6 months and older to get a flu shot!

Flu season typically runs from November to March, but no one can predict with accuracy exactly when the first cases will start showing up or when the season will end—sometimes as early as October to as late as May. It’s unpredictable as well how severe the upcoming flu season will be, so just assume it will be a bad and early flu season and prepare accordingly.

In other words, get your flu shot now. And remember to always wash your Continue reading

How to avoid catching a cold

It’s September and the kids are back in school!

Few things are germier than a school where lots of kids and adults are stuck in small rooms, touching the same objects and breathing the same air.

Then the kids bring those germs home on their hands and touch everything there, too.

Colds are miserable for children and parents alike, and missing work—whether a parent gets sick or has to stay home to care for a sick child—is a problem for many families.

It’s impossible to avoid every cold, and it’s probably better for our immune systems to get sick now … Continue reading

Be informed – The best cold and flu medicines

I very much agreed with the author of the recent article in The Atlantic titled The Cold-Medicine Racket.

There are now hundreds of flashy “cold and flu” products, but still only a handful of simple, cheap ingredients.

Yes! Every time I’m at the grocery or drug store I see displays and shelves full of the latest and greatest cold products, and I’m always stunned by how much they cost.

I’ve posted many times about these pricey over-the-counter drugs: what works, what doesn’t, and which products are the best value.

Related post: Save money on cold medications

First, I would … Continue reading

Flu vaccine advisory from the CDC

Not as effective, but still helpful

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a health advisory. It appears this year’s flu vaccine is not a great genetic match for the majority of flu cases seen thus far. This is called a virus “drift.”

That’s too bad, but because the flu vaccine is made before the flu season starts, it’s always a bit of an educated guess. Some years are a better match than others.

Related post: Get your seasonal flu shot

The media has been reporting that the vaccine is less effective this year, and perhaps you … Continue reading