Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Don't Let the Bugs Bite this Flu and Cold Season!

As the weather is getting colder, it also means that flu and cold season is upon us. It can be a very difficult task for parents to keep their children healthy during the fall and winter, especially when children are exposed to germs at school every day. Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee your child will not get sick (especially since the immune system in young children is growing stronger through exposure to new illnesses). While it is almost inevitable that most children will get a common cold or two, there are several simple things that you can do to help fight off germs and keep your child as healthy as you can this fall and winter. 

1. Have your child get a FLU SHOT! This is the number one thing that you can do to help prevent your child from contracting the flu. Even if your child does get sick, having the flu vaccine can help keep the symptoms more mild and shorten the illness. Click here to find a place near you when you can get the flu vaccine as well as look at flu activity in your local area. 

2. Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands!! Though this is the age old advice for preventing sickness, it is the most simple and effective solution to killing germs. Have your children wash their hands as often as they can (especially before eating, after using the restroom, and after being in a public place). Teach children to use warm water and soap and scrub for 15-20 seconds (have them sing "Happy Birthday" to themselves two times while they wash). 

3. Teach your children "The Three No's." No touching eyes, nose, or mouth! This can be very difficult (especially in young children) but cold and flu viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. Instead, have your child dab at his eye or itch his nose with a tissue or clean sleeve. 

4. Keep the surfaces in your home clean. The flu virus can live up to 8 hours on surfaces (counters, toys, handles, tables, etc.). Use hot soapy water or a disinfectant/cleaning product to these areas in your home clean. 

5. Stop sharing. Though it is important for young children to learn how to share, rethink the sharing policy when it comes to food and drink. One of the top ways that infections spread is through contact with food or drink. 

6. Make sure your child is getting the right amount of ZZZ's. A child is almost twice as likely to develop a cold or flu if they are sleep deprived. How much sleep should your child be getting? The CDC recommends that newborns get 16-18 hours a day, preschool aged children get 11-12 hours a day, and school aged children at least 10 hours a day. 

7. Have children eat a balanced and healthy diet. Foods that contain Vitamin C and E help support the immune system. Foods high in Vitamin E include: sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds, peanuts, and avocados; foods high in Vitamin C include: oranges/orange juice, peppers, berries, broccoli, and leafy greens. Taking vitamins and eating foods with probiotics such as yogurt can also help support the immune system. 

8. If your child does get sick, keep her comfortable and have her take it easy. Have your child get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Also, make time to snuggle; when children get sick they need extra TLC so give her plenty of hugs! If you are wondering if your child is too sick for school click here.  

What are some ways that you help prevent your children from getting sick? Share your tips in the comments below. 

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