Parents are being warned that their sweet little angels may actually be the face behind the flu. For a number of reasons, young children are generally more likely to spread the virus than are adults. Children usually have more contact with others, are undeniable germ magnets and tend have weaker immune systems, making them easy targets for the ruthless influenza virus.
In addition to their natural susceptibility, only one in four children receives an annual flu vaccination, furthering their own risk and that of others.
Those under five have the highest hospitalization rate and typically suffer the greatest health issues as a result of contracting the flu, which is why AFC Doctors Express Urgent Care Hamilton urges parents take preventative measures to protect themselves and their little ones. Even though there’s no surefire way to prevent illness, there are several things you can do to help your child reduce their risk of coming down with a cold or the flu.
Your whole family should get an annual flu vaccination to protect from the harmful virus. After all, it’s no fun staying home with a sick child, but it’s even worse when you yourself are fighting the flu. We all know how children can react to the sight of a needle. It may not be easy to convince your teary-eyed children that getting vaccinated is important and beneficial, but it will eventually pay off as both you and your children enjoy a healthier season.
Keeping up with hygiene is one of the simpler preventative steps you can take to combat cold and flu season, yet it is sometimes a challenge for young children. Germs are usually spread through the hands, mouth, and nose, which is why it’s important to teach your kids to cover their mouths when they cough, their noses when their sneeze, and to wash their hands frequently. In addition, be sure to give attention to germy surfaces in your home that may harbor bacteria.
Here are a few germ-fighting tips to help take back your family’s health:
- Wash hands often with warm water and antibacterial soap. Be sure to teach your children to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after coughing or sneezing, and at school. Going through the hand-washing ABC’s twice is a good rule of thumb for scrubbing clean, and it is also a great way to incorporate some extra practice for little ones!
- Travel size hand sanitizer is great to send to school or to play dates with your kids if they are old enough to be responsible with it. Although it shouldn’t take the place of handwashing, it’s an easy alternative when there isn’t a sink around.
- Routinely disinfect high-traffic areas in your home. Some of the germiest culprits are countertops, door knobs, remote controls, toilets seats, and even your cell phone!
- Encourage your children to use their own personal supplies at school to avoid spreading germs between children. You can even donate disinfectant wipes to their classroom at the beginning of the year to help the teacher keep germs under control too!
Boosting the Immune System
Sometimes a healthy immune system is the best option for fending off the flu. Boost your child’s immunity by employing healthy lifestyle habits such as eating a balanced diet, keeping active, and maintaining a routine sleep schedule. Brightly colored foods such as leafy greens, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and blueberries are all foods that contain immune-boosting powers. An active lifestyle will help protect your child from cold and flu season, so ditch the tablets and send them outside for some old fashion fun! Getting enough sleep is also extremely important for your child, as a lack of sleep actually decreases your body’s ability to fight off sickness.
Talk to your children about flu prevention and what they can do to avoid getting sick. Doing so will help keep your peanut happy and healthy this flu season. And, it may even save you money and time down the road with fewer sick days and trips out to the doctor!