Last updated: March 11, 2020
Richard Honaker M.D.
Primary Care Physician
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Protect your kids during the cold and flu season with our germ-fighting tips!
No one likes getting sick, but when your child is the one who is suffering it is even worse. Working parents often have an even harder time with their child’s illness as they have the added difficulty of sorting childcare, missing work or sending their child to school when sick.
A recent survey by Wakefield Research determined three in four parents were forced to send their children to school while sick. While this is not a great solution, it is happening more often than not.
So what can parents do to avoid this?
Adopting healthier habits, better hygiene and some good common sense can all go far to help avoid your children catching the many cold and flu viruses floating around each winter. Check out our top 5 ways to keep your kids healthier during the cold and flu season.
Adopt a Healthier Diet
While encountering germs is unavoidable (about a trillion microorganisms live on your skin and make up 1 to 3% of your body mass), you can take steps to better fight them off.
Building up your immune system through a healthier diet is a great way to prevent illness and improve your overall health.
While your children may be resistant to a complete diet overhaul, incorporating some immunity boosting foods slowly into their diet over time can make a big difference over time.
Wash your Hands
While many parents often remind our children of the importance of washing their hands after using the bathroom, in reality we should be washing hands much more often.
Children (and adults) should be washing their hands:
- After using the bathroom (or changing a diaper)
- Before every meal
- After touching an animal or its waste
- Prior to preparing or handling food
- After touching garbage
- Immediately after coming into contact with a sick person
- After touching areas in a public place
- Immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
Teaching your child proper hand washing techniques are also important. Teach your child to use soap along with warm or cool water and lather for about 30 seconds. Pay attention to the tops of hands when cleaning as they are often missed. Be sure to dry hands with a clean towel.
While not all germs can be avoided, it is important to recognize places and objects that have the potential to be full of harmful germs.
Arguably one of the germiest spots for children is school, and it cannot be avoided. Follow these best practices to avoid unnecessary germs:
- Teach your children not to share drinks, utensils or food with friends at school.
- Educate them on the proper hand washing techniques and how often and in what instances they should be washing their hands.
- Consider the health of others before attending a social function. Before going over for a play date or social get together, ask if anyone is sick. Bacteria from coughs and sneezes can stay in the air for up to 45 minutes.
- Teach your children to cough or sneeze into their elbow rather than their hands.
- Carry antibacterial wipes and use them when you are unable to wash your hands.
Stay Home When Sick
Staying home when sick can often be easier said than done. Limited sick days, busy work schedules and family commitments can all make it feel impossible to take the rest needed when under the weather.
Staying home is an important tool to stop the spread of colds and flu.
Most cold and flu viruses are spread the air droplets that are put in the air when you cough and sneeze. These droplets are picked up by touching the surfaces they have landed on and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
In addition to possibly spreading the virus or bacteria to other children, sending your children to school when sick may prolong their illness and make it harder for their body to fight the virus or bacteria.
Teaching your children the importance of rest when sick and avoiding infecting others can set them on a healthier path for life.
Connect with Us!
Every parent knows that a trip to the doctor’s office is usually the opposite of fun. Not only do you have to drag a sick child out of bed (where they belong) and into a waiting room, but you also have to worry about exposure to unnecessary germs.
While most worry about sitting next to the person who is coughing and sneezing, there is also often a hidden threat-the clipboard pen.
A 2018 study determined that the pen on the clipboard of the doctor’s office actually has 46,000 more bacteria than a toilet seat!
While not every trip to the doctor can be avoided, connecting with Your Doctors Online means that you can chat online with a real North American doctor from the comforts of home. Not only are you able to avoid exposure to unnecessary germs, but you can also rest easy knowing you have a doctor on call whenever you need them.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.
About Richard Honaker M.D.
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