Saturday, January 5, 2013

Keep Kids Cold Free this Winter

When the weather begins to cool down and winter’s chill approaches, it signals not only the end of another year but also the beginning of cold and flu season. Keeping kids healthy during the winter months isn’t always easy, especially if they attend school or daycare with other children who can pass germs around quickly. Helping your kids to avoid a bout with the common cold will not only maintain their health and school attendance, but will also prevent you from contracting the illness and spreading it throughout your own place of employment. These tips can help reduce the likelihood of your household becoming infected with the winter cold so that you and your family maintain good health throughout the season.
  • Busting the Outdoor Myth – According to a plethora of old wives’ tales, going outside during the colder months is a surefire way to contract a cold. In fact, pediatrician and mom Dr. JJ Levenstein explains that most indoor gathering places are a hotbed for germ activity and that your kids are safer from the common cold and flu viruses if they’re bundled up, protected from the frigid temperatures, and encouraged to play outside in the fresh air. Indoor playgrounds and amusement centers are contained spaces, allowing virus-laded respiratory droplets to travel through the air, increasing the possibility of your children becoming infected.
  • Instill Good Hand Washing Habits – One of the first and most effective lines of defense from the common cold for both kids and adults is frequent, thorough hand washing. Making sure that your little ones understand the importance of washing their hands, especially before touching their nose, eyes and mouth, can help them to avoid germs while they’re at school or daycare.
  • Disinfect Common Surfaces – Doorknobs, remote controls, phones and other common surfaces in your home need to be frequently disinfected, even if no one in your household is actively suffering from a cold or the flu.
  • Maintain a Healthy Diet – A strong immune system is the absolute best defense against illnesses, especially the common cold. Making sure that your children enjoy a diet rich in nutritious, wholesome foods and light on the sugars and processed items is one of the best ways to bolster it, especially during the winter months.
  • Avoid Sick People – It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to keep your children as clear of those who are suffering from obvious cold or flu-like symptoms as possible. Even if it means skipping a visit with Grandma until she’s feeling better and showing no signs of a fever, it’s worth it to keep your children from getting sick. Because kids can’t always avoid sick classmates and other peers, however, it’s also imperative that they understand the best and most effective ways of avoiding those germs as well.
  • No Smoking! – Children that are exposed to secondhand smoke have a more difficult time fending off a cold or the flu, and may also take longer to recover from them than their peers from non-smoking households. Quitting smoking is not only important for the long-term health of both yourself and your children, but can also have a noticeable effect on the number of colds that they come down with during the season.
  • Be Careful With Over the Counter Preventative Treatments – Though anecdotal evidence may seem to indicate that extremely large doses of zinc or vitamin C are wonder drugs when it comes to preventing or curing the common cold, the truth is that there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support those claims. Kids Health does state, however, that large doses of zinc and vitamin C taken on a daily basis can have negative side effects. Rather than relying upon heavy-duty vitamin products that claim to prevent or cure the common cold, try to exercise caution and hygienic habits.
  • Keep Pencil Boxes Well-Stocked – Sharing pencils, crayons and other school supplies with a classmate that’s carrying the cold virus, even if he’s not actively showing symptoms, can bring your child into contact with the virus as well. To avoid this inadvertent exposure to illness-causing germs, make sure that your child leaves for school each day with everything he’ll need to get through his classes without borrowing any supplies from his friends.
  • No Sharing – Telling children not to share flies in the face of everything you spent their toddlerhood and preschool years trying to instill, but it can help to protect them against getting sick this season. Kids should understand that sharing, especially personal items like lip balm, is against the rules and can cause them to become sick.
Despite your best efforts to the contrary, your child may still manage to pick up a cold or the flu at some point during the season. Should this happen, it’s best to keep him out of school and daycare until his fever is broken and symptoms have cleared up in order to avoid infecting his classmates further and limiting other kids’ exposure to the virus.

Provided by Debbie Denard

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