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11 surprising ways to keep back-to-school bugs at bay

Updated: Oct 8, 2019

The kids are back in school. Yippee! But before you rest easy in your new routine, remember that the little ones are bringing home more than homework and new knowledge. Crowds, close quarters and, frankly, less-than-stellar hygiene habits can mean your kids are toting home germs that can affect — and infect — the whole family.

We all know the value of thorough and regular hand washing, but here are 11 bug-booting tips you might not know.

Turbo charge your immune system

Your immune system is your body’s best defense against viruses and germs. Give it a boost with these proven immunity strengtheners:

#1 Increase your heart rate. Moving your body for just 20 minutes three times a week has shown to improve immune function.

#2 Laugh. Laughter lowers stress levels, and less stress translates to a healthier immune system.

#3 Eat your protection. Antioxidants help our bodies resist infection. Colorful veggies and fruits, like spinach, carrots, berries and citrus, are packed with antioxidants. And fresh garlic and old-fashioned chicken soup have natural antibiotic properties and can ease inflammation.

#4 Consider probiotics. Yogurt provides friendly bacteria to fight against those that are less friendly. Not a yogurt fan? Talk to your health care provider about a probiotic supplement.

#5 Get enough vitamin Z. Our bodies use sleep as a time to heal. It stands to reason, then, that too little sleep can impair that ability. Researchers think sleep may boost immunity by reducing oxidative stress, which can keep our cells from being weakened and damaged.

Keep your hands (and nose) clean

#6 Cover sneezes. Did you know that a single sneeze can propel viruses and germs through the air at a speed of 50 mph? If you feel one coming on and can’t get to a tissue in time, bend your arm and sneeze into your elbow.

#7 Avoid shaking hands. This is a tricky one if you’re in a business environment, but professionals are starting to catch on, especially during flu season. Carry hand sanitizer if shaking is unavoidable.

Beware of high-germ zones

#8 Carry your own water bottle instead of drinking from public water fountains. A study found that school water fountains had nearly 3 million bacteria per square inch, compared to 3,200 found on a restroom toilet seat.

#9 Use a dry paper towel to open the bathroom door after washing your hands.

#10 Wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant. Germs are avid hitchhikers. They attach themselves to everything from lunchboxes and backpacks to cellphones, keyboards, light switches and doorknobs. Clean frequently used items once a week. Involve your children in the cleanup and explain why it’s necessary.

#11 Stay calm. It’s tempting to freak out and think you need to sterilize everything every day. But there are benefits in balance. Experts say being super clean is not always the best idea for children’s developing immune systems. While it is a good idea to wash up if there’s a chance of cold or flu viruses lurking, avoiding everyday dirt at every turn is not necessary. It could even weaken your immunity to illness.


Flee the flu

In addition to the measures above, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting a flu shot — every year. The ParTNers Health & Wellness Center’s free flu shot clinics kick off soon. Watch your email for this year’s schedule.

If you do get sick, give us a call. We offer strep and flu tests and some on-site medications to help you feel better fast. And we have limited free parking in the Tower for clinic appointments.

Sources: Mayo Clinic; HealthDay; WebMD; Harvard Health


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