Cold and flu season can be an immense trial for households with young children. Many children seem to catch every illness that goes around, and if you have a few children at home, it doesn’t take long until you have a house full of germ-ridden people confined to their beds.
While it might seem impossible to keep your little ones completely safe from germs, there are a few things you can do to prevent the worst during cold and flu season. I have a few helpful suggestions that will help any parent trying to avoid the madness of cold and flu season this year.
4 Tips To Keep You Little Ones Safe during Cold and Flu Season
Get Plenty of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for a healthy immune system. However, we get most of our vitamin D from sunlight. In the winter, when sunlight is weaker and gray days more common, most people have much lower levels of this vitamin than is optimal. Research has shown that people with low vitamin D levels catch more colds and flus. Fish and dairy products are the best sources of Vitamin D when you can’t get outside and enjoy the sunlight. You can also take supplements if you are worried about your family getting enough Vitamin D during the grey and dreary months of winter.
Protect yourself From Germs
While we often tell children to wash their hands, we rarely address how germs are actually carried into the human body. People cough on their hands and then touch surfaces; when other people touch these surfaces, the germs are spread to their hands. This in itself is not enough to transmit a cold or flu; people get sick when they touch their faces with these germy hands. Teach children to use hand sanitizer after touching public doorknobs and other high traffic places, and to never put their hands near their faces without sanitizing first. This will have a large impact on the amount of germs that actually enter your child’s body.
Get Lots of Fresh Air
Although cold weather does not always seem conducive to outdoor play, it’s important for children to get plenty of time outside whenever it is feasible. First, exercise has been found to strengthen the immune system and lower one’s risk of catching illnesses. Second, most scientists believe that cold and flu season occurs during cold weather because people are inside so often and thus sharing more germs with each other. When possible, take the children for a brisk walk, or even a little play in the park if you live in an area that isn’t too wet or snowy. Any time you can spend outside will be helpful to the body, so try to work it into your regular schedule.
Consider a Flu Shot
While a flu shot won’t protect your little one from colds, or even from every flu, it will protect them from some of the more dangerous strains of influenza that are predicted to go around this year. An ounce of prevention may really be worth a pound of cure. Of course, any immunizations should be first discussed with your pediatrician to be sure that this is the best option for your child based on their current health status.
While every child will have to survive a few colds and flus, there is no need for runny noses and coughs to become a permanent fixture of the cold weather months. Consider the tips above when preventing against germs this season. As you work on preventative measures, you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy, happy winter with your children. The information for this article was provided by the professionals at Independence Park Medical Services Inc., who specialize in family medicine in Anchorage, AK.
This is a guest post written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for health, women’s interests, and parenting interests. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.
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