Q: Now that my kids are back in school, what’s the best way to protect them from all the colds and flus they will inevitably be exposed to in the classroom?
A: The best answer to this question really takes us back to the basics. You don’t need to spend money on vitamins and “immune boosters.” Teach your children how and when to wash their hands. It’s going to be impossible to keep them from coming in contact with germs in the school environment, but if you can keep the germs off of their hands (and their hands away from their face), you have a pretty good chance of reducing the number of sick days this school year.
While you are imparting this wisdom to your kids, also remind them about covering their mouth when they sneeze or cough. It is best to do this by turning the head into the crook of the elbow rather than using the hand. This will help stop the spread of germs to others in the classroom. If you really want to contribute to the public health, ask the school if you can arrange for a nurse or doctor to come in and talk to the class about these things. If all the kids are taking precautions, you stand a much better chance of success.
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Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.