How to Prevent the Wild Spread of the Flu

Recently my sister’s family went on a cruise. They flew to Florida, went on a week-long cruise to Jamaica and flew back to Arizona. They had a wonderful time on the cruise. However,  when they returned home, one by one they all came down with the worst case of the flu that had them out of commission for over a week! Yes, I know because they missed my daughter’s birthday party!  It got me thinking, how I can best prevent the flu and other illnesses from entering our home.

I had the great privilege and opportunity to speak with Gustavo Ferrer, MD FCCP about questions I had about keeping my family healthy during the flu and cold season. Just to give a background on Dr. Ferrer and his accomplishments, he is the founder of Cleveland Clinic Florida Cough Center and President of Intensive Care Experts based in Weston, Fla.

He wrote the book Cough Cures: The Best Natural Remedies and Over-the-Counter Drugs for Acute and Chronic Cough. His book was inspired by how his wife cared for his children and would turn to over the counter medications to treat symptoms. He saw first hand, how toxic medications can be and the side effects. Being from Cuba, he knew that natural remedies were the right way to go about treating sicknesses.

Frequently Asked Questions About Preventing the Wild Spread of the Flu:

Q 1 : What should we do to prevent the flu from hitting our home?

A: Children are resilient and can overcome any viral infection quickly. Viral infections, tend to linger a little longer with adults. As a parent, I know I spend more time trying to prevent my kids from getting sick, but neglect myself.  It is important that we take the preventive measures and strengthen our own immune system and teach our children.

Teach children how to wash their hands correctly with soup. We taught ours to sing a song while washing their hands.

Tip # 1 – Encourage frequent hand washing. Illnesses spread through the transmission of saliva and other bodily fluids. We are constantly touching things with our hands and using our hands to eat. Regular hand washing can prevent the passing along of sicknesses.

Tip# 2 – Sneeze in your elbow, to the side, or in your shirt. It is common for people to use their hands to sneeze into and then go about their day touching things. Thus causing the sickness to spread like a wild-fire. Help keep others healthy, by not sneezing into your hands.

It is encouraged to sneeze in elbow or shirt and away from others if possible! This helps prevent the spread of viruses!

Tip # 3 – Use Probiotics – Choose one that has more than 20 billion cultures. It is highly effective in giving our body what it needs to stay strong and fight off infectious diseases.

Tip # 4 – Take vitamin D3 and C- Research has shown that vitamin D3 can strengthen immune systems and decrease the transition of a viral infection especially coughs, colds, and even asthma.

Tip # 5 – Use a Nasal Spray – It is recommended that we use one with Xylitol. During the winter months, take one to two drops a day. This is effective in preventing the transmission of illnesses. It softens the mucus, which can improve cold symptoms. It opens the nasal passage and creates a coat.  Saline nasal sprays can be given to children.

Q 2: Once one member of the family is sick, how would you prevent it from hitting the rest of the family?

A: Watch for symptoms and be proactive. Follow all the tips outlined from question 1.  Drink ginger tea and garlic. Some people do not enjoy consuming garlic, and so capsules are advised as well. Ginger and garlic are effective, because they are anti-bacterial.

My kids do not like drinking herbal tea, but I encourage it! They always say afterwards how it helped a little!

Q 3: Do you recommend the flu shot. If so, at what age would you recommend starting?

A: The flu vaccine that we have today, is not the flu vaccine that was around thirty years ago. Years ago the flu vaccine was known to carry live viruses, which has been linked to neurological  disorders. Today’s vaccines do not carry live viruses. Today’s vaccine is genetically developed, and is known to be highly effective. The chances of problems developing from the vaccine is close to zero.  Dr. Ferrer recommends that children in areas of high prevalence of the flu, to be administered the vaccine at the age of six months. He is very careful with this recommendation. He personally waited until his children were older and took other preventive measures to stop the spread of the flu virus from entering his home. In making this decision, he considered the climate of where he was living. Being in South Florida, the virus presence is lower than other parts of the country, being that the weather is milder. The northern part of our country has a higher prevalence of the virus, due to the weather. He recommends that all adults should go out and receive their flu shots.

Q 4: What natural remedies can you recommend for babies and young children?

A:  Chamomile tea is excellent to give babies in moderation. It is safe and effective.  It can help calm babies down and is wonderful to relax the stomach and help with breathing. Babies suffer more from indigestion than anybody else. Ginger tea, and honey with lemon can also be given. There is a precaution with honey that it should not be given to children under the age of one. Honey is as effective or more effective than over the counter products. Acupuncture can be used to relieve obstructions in our sinuses and can stop the progression of the viral disease.  Dr. Ferrer referenced his book for acupressure, which you can do yourself.  I just received a copy of the book, and am excited to try acupressure on my spouse and children.  The book has diagrams and guides of points to massage to relieve symptoms of cough, cough with phlegm, cough with anxiety, cough with head conditions, and cough with fever.

Pages from Dr. Ferrer’s book that explain acupressure points for cough.
Diagrams that show the various Acupressure points for cough.

Q 5:  Our kids do not like the taste of natural remedies, what do  you recommend giving kids that would help them feel better that they might like? Question coming from other mom friends.

A: There are different brands that have create syrups through natural remedies that also use natural sweeteners to help make them tastier and tolerable for children. There are no isolated products.

I will share a few that I found in the book that are homeopathic:

  • Oscillococcinum – Very popular flu remedy in France and is found in drugstores across America.  It is a harmless and tasteless, homeopathic medicine.
  • Hyland’s Cough Syrup 4 Kids
  • Chestal by Boiron

Sweet Herbs found in the book include elderberry and star anise. These can be used in teas to fight off cold, cough, and flu symptoms.

For more sweet herbs, I recommend reading through Dr. Ferrer’s book Cough Cures: The Best Natural Remedies and Over-the-Counter Drugs for Acute and Chronic Cough.  I found so many helpful herbs, I did not know could serve as natural remedies.

Q 6: Going back to my family members who traveled and came back sick, do you have tips for travelers?

About to board on a plane!

A: Airplanes are very much a corporate in transmission of illnesses. You are flying more than 30,000 feet above sea level and the humidity is low. When humidity is low, re-circulation of viruses is high. Transmission is usually due to having touched something.  Wash hands frequently. In trips that are longer than three hours, gargle salt water and wash hands every hour. Take vitamin D3 and probiotic. Use a saline nasal spray before going on the plane.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Ferrer. As a mom of four children, I want to keep them all healthy. The tips he shared I find very useful. With Dr. Ferrer’s book, I feel like I am ready to help my family members feel better without having to use over the counter medication! If you have a chance, I highly recommend adding Cough Cures: The Best Natural Remedies and Over-the-Counter Drugs for Acute and Chronic Cough to your parenting library collection.

Let me know which natural remedies you use in your home!

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  1. Lisa Bulpin says:

    Wonderful and VERY comprehensive guide to preventing colds and flu’s! I’m definitely bookmarking it so I can read it again. I’ve never even thought about the sneeze in the elbow thing!

  2. omtripsblog says:

    Well that’s something new to me too that when we are in low humidity, re-circulation of viruses is high. Any way i am trying not to touch everything in the airplane 🙂 and always to wash hands if i will eat something.

  3. joancajic says:

    I usually hate when the cough starts and just disturbs my son all night, but I do think I should try probiotics and more vitamins in his diet, to at least try the natural route. Overall he gets the flu nasal spray and I figured out that vicks vapor rub on his feet helps with night coughs.

  4. You know what they say, “Prevention is always better than cure”. Taking care of ourselves is really necessary. Flu may be a viral infection, but it can still cause suffering especially to our loved ones.

  5. Daria Gora says:

    I totally agree with using natural remedies when sick. For sore throat I mixed sage, warm water, bit of honey and bit of white vinegar and gurgle. I agree with you on the nasal spray, I also do inhalations putting few drops of eucalyptus oil into the water.

  6. Soonjoo says:

    Love this post! It has been cold and hot and I see lots of flu around work. I do love the natural remedies. When I get flu I make ginger honey lemon tea it works the best! I never tried chamomile tea I should try it

  7. Corinne and Kirsty says:

    The flu is so annoying when you get it. Literally, you can’t do anything so it is important that you do anything not to catch it. I remember my parents making sure we didn’t. This guide is quite comprehensive!

  8. mjchristine says:

    This is very relevant and informative. Keeping up with information like this keeps us parents be aware of certain precautions we must always remember to keep our family healthy and virus free!

  9. These are some great tips to prevent the flu and also prevent the spreading of these nasty little germs. Great article!

    1. Melina says:

      Thank you! Dr. Ferrer shared a variety of helpful tips! I learned from him!

  10. How interesting that you should sneeze into your elbow. I love probiotics, I try to ensure all the family are taking them. Thanks for sharing, I’ve picked up some tips.

    1. Melina says:

      The elbow is key, since you do not use your inner elbow to touch things! Glad you picked up some tips!

  11. This is such timely information: the dreaded flu season has begun! I love the tips on sneezing into your elbow, and chamomile tea!

  12. This is very informative post! Some people think flu as not an issue, but it must be treated well to avoid further issues. Having a flu shot is a must especially for kids.

  13. MONNKA says:

    This is very informative! I also try to use natural remedies when sick.

  14. Kitty says:

    I totally agree with sneezing into the elbow and washing hands… These are some important tips for this flu season

  15. That’ s interesting, especially in this period of the year! Didn’t know about the elbow tip, always use natural remedies for me and my family too!

  16. Siti Aana says:

    Great tips for parents and also teachers to guide the kids. 🙂

  17. Rachael Burow says:

    These are great tips for both parents and the kids! I’m going to share since I know many people who are catching some flu type symptoms! Great blog!

  18. lisa says:

    Loved your post. You have alot of good information. I agree prevention is the best way to fight the flu!

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