My Household Routine for Swine Flu (Or any Flu)
I know I don’t need to update anyone here on the Blog of Inferior Breathing with swine flu developments (except I just did). Parenting a kid with respiratory problems has a way of ramping up your typical pandemic monitoring a notch or ten.
Today I want to talk prevention and avoidance.
In my original swine flu post, I mentioned preparing but not panicking, to no one’s great surprise, I’m sure. My daughter’s asthma entails extra prep all the time, anyway, from giving an asthma action plan to the school to filling prescriptions before traveling anywhere. I’m used to this sort of thing, and I’m sure you are, too. If there were ever an advantage to a kid’s chronic health issue, this familiarity with thinking and planning ahead would be it. Of course, that advantage is seriously outweighed by the respiratory dangers our kids face in a flu outbreak, but too much of that kind of thinking is an all-cloud/no lining situation.
Yesterday on the phone, I told my sister some of the steps I’m taking to keep the girls healthy and (hopefully) flu-free. She said, “Hey, those are good ideas.” When she described a step I hadn’t thought of, I said, “Hey, that’s a good idea.” Which led to:
Hey, let’s move this discussion on over to the blog.
Especially, after reading this comment on the previous swine flu post:
I am in BC (Canada) and we have now had six cases of this flu – although none close geographically to us. I too, have an asthmatic child (four-years-old) and he is currently getting over a cold.
My question is I would like to ensure he is as physically prepared as possible to combat this flu if he happens to contract it. I have been thinking keeping him on a twice-daily does of flovent and have the Ventolin on hand for acute care.
Also, he is taking daily vitamins
I realize the asthma meds are a double-edged sword in that they suppress the immune system, but they also keep his lungs clearer. Does anyone have any ideas to keep his immunity up?
Not being a doctor, a nurse, a respiratory therapist, or the parent of any children but my own, I can’t give anyone advice. I can share what’s going on in the Asthma Mom household, though:
All of us – and this includes Mr. Asthma Mom and me – have started washing our hands as soon as we step inside the house, no matter where we’ve been. By that I mean, even if I take a walk down the trail at the end of my street and come in contact with no other human being, I’m heading for the soap and water first thing when I get back. I figure if we follow this sort of open door/wash hands Pavlovian training, it will become habit for the times when it really matters, like after school or a trip to the grocery store.
I’ve thrown a packet of these into the bag I carry and in both girls’ backpacks for when we’re out and don’t have access to soap and water. Not the antibacterial kind, though – because of the whole good germ/bad germ issue I won’t get into right now, and because influenza is a virus, not a bacteria.
I’m not thrilled with the antibacterial action in Lysol (see above), but it’s a fast and easy way to kill the flu virus. If anyone in this house gets sick, I’ll spray every doorknob, light switch, and virus-spreading surface they’ve touched with the brand-new can I bought yesterday. Otherwise, it’s staying in the cabinet.
Since coughing or sneezing into a tissue helps cut down on transmission, I’ve placed boxes of them in every bedroom and the main rooms of my house. You probably do this already, as part of your normal outbreak-less life, but us? We’re the family that walks around with a spare roll of toilet paper for our noses when we have colds because I never – never – remember to buy tissues.
AG usually tapers down to half her inhaled corticosteroid dose now and stops using it altogether by the end of May and throughout the summer season. I’ve held off on that for the moment.
Other, Not-So-Obvious Steps
These all fall under the category, *Could have no effect whatsoever, but it’s not hurting us to try.*
As former Floridians, we rarely wear shoes inside, anyway, but now I’ve made it part of the routine:
Shoes off in garage—>open door—>wash hands
My thinking on this? Say a contagious student at the girls’ school vomits or sneezes or expels a little flu-ridden bodily fluid in some other way. With my luck, it would be one of my kids that managed to walk through the mess or any residual traces after clean-up. Also knowing my luck, the virus would somehow manage to stick to their shoes without rubbing off as they walk and then somehow transmit itself from those shoes to this family.
Yeah, it’s not likely. Probably, this scenario in my head isn’t even possible. This “preventative” step just plain makes me feel better (read: saner) even if it’s just functioning as the illusion of more control.
Plus, a bonus: no shoes = cleaner house w/out actually having to clean.
Fish Oil Capsules
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, may help asthma inflammation and lung function in adults and decrease asthma symptoms in children. The connection is not established conclusively, but the research results are positive enough for me that AG takes fish oil capsules equivalent to that teaspoon of cod liver oil my mom had to swallow every morning when she was young. I like Nordic Naturals because they’re easy to find and ranked Best Choice by the Environmental Defense Fund. (Please note: My daughter takes these all the time, not just right now. This not medical advice. This is a personal decision I made for my own kid and only after clearing it with her doctor first.)
Garlic has natural anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and other health properties. Conclusive proof that garlic will cure/treat/prevent ANY illness does not exist. However, garlic is good, and I’ve always used a lot of it in meals. Fresh garlic is more potent than cooked, so I make things like guacamole, homemade salad dressing, and bean dips. Again, this is something I do all year-round, not just right now.
Do you notice the theme here? These are all fairly reasonable (with the possible exception of the no-shoes rule) steps we take when anything particularly virulent is going around or just as part of our everyday life. Any respiratory illness has the potential to be worse for kids like AG than for non-asthmatics like her sister, so in general – I try to be careful and keep her lungs healthy while sticking to our normal routine and activities.
And now,Â I open it up to you. How do you protect your asthma kids?