ThreeJars Daily: Save On Doctor’s Bills

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Save On Doctor’s Bills

What’s a surefire way to slash your family’s medical bills? Staying healthy, of course! But since that’s easier said than done (especially during the winter months), we got Joanne Cox, M.D., director of the Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center in Boston, to walk us through the top things your family can do to ward off icky germs.

By Amanda May Dundas

Skip the soap.
Yes, you read that correctly. While most doctors and parents preach hand washing as a way to stop the spread of germs, a hand sanitizer is actually much more effective. “Very few people wash their hands for the recommended 20 seconds before washing the soap off,” explains Cox. “And even if they do, studies show that it’s still not quite as good as using a hand sanitizer.”

Be picky about party fare.
Those platters of pigs-in-blankets at parties may look too good to pass up, but think of them as a Petri dish of germs, thanks to all the grabbing going on. “Opt instead for food on individual plates, or food that people touched only with utensils,” says Cox. The same goes for punch bowls – skip anything that people dip their cups into, and be careful to mark your cup (or your kids’ cups), or keep a good eye on it so you don’t accidentally drink from someone else’s.

Stay fit.
We know you’ve got gifts to shop for, holiday parties to attend, and travel plans to make. But letting your fitness routine slide to the backburner is one of the biggest health mistakes you can make. “Regular exercise is one of the best cold preventatives,” says Cox. “And studies show that colds last two to three days less in people who exercise regularly, including when they’re sick.”

Stress less.
“When your body is stressed – whether it’s from working too hard, being dehydrated, or not getting enough sleep – you’re more likely to get sick,” says Cox. “Take care of yourself, watch how much alcohol you drink, and get plenty of sleep.”

Get a flu shot.
“This year’s vaccine protects against H1N1 (swine flu), as well as two other influenza viruses,” says Cox. “The flu rises in December and peaks in January, so make sure to get it if you haven’t already.”

Take it in stride.
While it’s important to protect yourself, don’t go overboard. Cox says not to waste your money on dietary supplements like Airborne that promise to keep you healthy. “The amount of vitamin C that you’d need to actually decrease your chance of getting a cold isn’t safe,” says Cox. And while keeping your kids out of school the week before a family vacation may ensure they don’t catch anything, “it really sends them the wrong message,” says Cox. “Remember that every time you or your kids get sick it builds immunity,” she adds. “So hopefully that’s one less time you get sick in the future.”

Amanda May Dundas is a freelance writer living in the lower Hudson Valley in New York.


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