Simple tips for a healthy holiday season




Posted on December 19, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 19 at 6:30 PM

DALLAS — Addison is wearing a mask to protect her newborn brother, Rhett. She has been battling a respiratory infection.

Preventing the spread of germs is particularly important to this family right now.

"We've got a box of masks and hand sanitizers and things like that so that we guard against any of that," said Barbara Rushing, grandmother of the two children.

Health experts say besides wearing a mask, there are other ways to stop your family from sharing contagious bugs over the holidays.

Frequent hand-washing — not just before eating — is the best way to avoid getting sick at someone else's home.

Experts also recommend wiping down anything people touch frequently, like doorknobs and sink handles.

"I wouldn't share towels," said Dr. Matt Bush, an emergency medicine doctor at Medical City Dallas Hospital. "So if you are using a hand towel, make sure you have your own hand towel."

Disposable, single-use paper towels may be more convenient for most families over the holidays.

Dr. Bush said the Medical City emergency room is experiencing its busiest flu season in years, seeing about 25 patients a day. Many people would like to prevent getting sick by taking "immune-boosters." But studies show those may not make much difference.

"Certainly there are things out there like Vitamin C and zinc and things that you see that people say make you feel better, but probably not going to be the key to keeping you well," Dr. Bush said. "If you haven't gotten your flu shot, then that is something you can do. And it's not too late."

"We've had our flu shot and Addison just watched me get my whooping cough shot, because they recommend that, too," Barbara Rushing said.

The Rushings say they'll do whatever it takes to protect their precious new family member.