Helping your children prepare for cold and flu season can cut symptoms and teach children good health practices. There are easy steps to teach your children.
The best defense against viruses is hand washing. Washing hands with plain soap and water is the best defense. Singing Happy Birthday through twice equals the minimum time needed to kill germs. Use fresh towels and keep your bathroom and kitchen areas clean and disinfected.
It isn’t necessary to use products with strong odors. Children can use disposable wipes to clean off bathroom counters, desks and computer keyboards. When cold or flu resides in your home, teach children to wipe down toys and not to drink after each other.
Keep children in their rooms
Changing bed sheets and keeping sick children in their rooms rather than in the family room in front of the TV will keep the virus from spreading. A cough can spread germs up to 20 feet. Although it is tempting to allow children to stay on the couch with the first signs of illness, resist. Rather encourage your child to stay in his or her own bed. Provide things for them to do in their room while limiting exposure to other family members. The virus is less likely to spread if the patient is confined.
Lots of sleep is the best cure for colds and flu. Encouraging rest—especially during those first 48 hours—is crucial for recovery.
Feed them healthy food
Chicken noodle soup is still one of the best things to feed sick family members. Avoid sugary snacks and snack foods. Even small amounts of nutritional food will help with recovery.
Lots of water helps keep your child hydrated and speeds the healing process. Hot drinks such as tea with lemon and honey can help break up congestion.
Over-the-counter medications can be useful in reducing symptoms. Be careful not to overmedicate. Give cough medicine for coughs and decongestants for stuffiness. Only use multi-symptom medication if your child has all the symptoms listed on the label. Consult your pharmacist for their recommendations.
Instruct your child to cough and sneeze into a tissue or, if one is not handy, into their sleeve. Covering their mouth with their elbow instead of their hands when coughing reduces the spread of viruses to surrounding surfaces through touch. Viruses can live 2-8 hours on metal surfaces.
Consult a physician
The first 48 hours are crucial in getting proper treatment for flu symptoms. After 48 hours rest is the best medicine. Watch for symptoms worsening as that can indicate the start of more serious illness such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Follow your pediatrician’s recommendation regarding flu vaccination for your children. Children under five are most susceptible to flu.
Keep your child home
As tempting as it is to send your children to school with medication, keep them at home while symptoms are present. Otherwise, you risk not only spreading the illness among their classmates but also re-infecting your child. Rule of thumb--your child is no longer contagious when they have been fever free for 24 hours. Be sure to reinforce proper cough management if a cough is still present on returning to school.