Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Guest Post - Keeping Your Children Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

So today I'm excited to share a guest post with you guys. It's brought to you by Healthline.com which is an online health information site. It's a great resource for healthy living, especially if you're like me and have a troubled past with just Googling your symptoms. 

Cali has already had a stomach virus twice, TWICE, this season. It's just that time of year and we all want to do what we can to prevent our little ones from getting sick. This article gives you some sound advice for doing your best to avoid germs and stay healthy. I hope you enjoy!


Winter is here once again and with it comes cold and flu season, which can occur as early as October and ends sometime in April or May. These diseases are caused by viruses and usually accompanied by runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, headache and muscle soreness. All of these symptoms are due to our bodies’ immune system fighting off the virus. Children are usually the first to get sick since they play closely together and they're still learning hygiene. Here are several tips that could keep your children from getting sick this season.

Wash hands frequently
Here is a general rule everyone should follow, including adults. Warm water and soap kill germs, though you have to do this the proper way. Washing hands should last at least 20 seconds, and make sure to rub every nook and cranny thoroughly. No matter how clean the hands may be, it is still best to keep them away from the mouth and nose. Avoid using hands when picking up food as well.  Rather, use some sort of utensil or tong.  For younger children, it’s best to supervise and assist them in washing their hands.

Practice good cough decorum and social distancing
Germs from the flu spread up to a 6-ft radius when they are spread via a sneeze or cough, so teach your children to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue, and dispose of that tissue properly and immediately. Make sure they also wash their hands every time they cough or sneeze so they won’t spread the germs through surfaces and human contact. It’s best to keep your kids at home if they’re already sick.

Encourage them to exercise
If you want to help your child ready to fight on flu, make sure they get regular exercise. Moderate physical activity is known to boost the immune system thus lowering their risks against common cold and flu. It’s better to deal with these diseases if you’re healthy and fit. Look for opportunities for indoor activity, like swimming, gymnastics, tennis, basketball and bowling. Your child can take up outdoor winter sports as well, such as skating but make sure they are dressed appropriately for the weather.

Wear weather-appropriate clothing
It is not necessary to keep your kids indoors to prevent them from catching colds or flu. Make sure they are properly dressed for the weather before going out, though. Appropriate attire includes jackets, winter coats, hats, thick socks, insulated gloves and scarves. It’s also important to dress in layers especially during the winter. This provides extra insulation and it traps air effectively, ensuring that all the warm air produced by the body will be retained and will keep you warm.

Increase fruits and vegetable intake
Make sure your little ones are getting plenty of leafy greens and vitamin C in the form of citrus fruits. These foods are known to fight off cold and flu viruses. Foods are still better than any supplements, and eating more fruits and vegetables helps to strengthen your immune system, lowering your risk of contracting diseases. Give your kids at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day in order for them to get sufficient minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

Have them vaccinated against flu
Immunizations are important, and the flu vaccine is one way to protect your kids and yourself against colds and the flu. This may not prevent children from getting the flu completely, but it can shorten the illness and keep the symptoms milder, in case they do get sick. The flu vaccine can be administered to everyone from 6 months of age and older. This can be done yearly with the effectivity lasting throughout the flu season.

Make sure you have immediate medication on hand
Being prepared at all times is a must, especially if you have kids at home. Despite taking all the precautions, children can still catch the virus at some point. They can contact this virus in an average of 6-8 times per year. If this happens, it’s best that you are ready to alleviate the symptoms and shorten the illness. Make sure that your medicine cabinet is well-stocked and has a variety of medicines for kids and adults. This includes acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) for the fever, nasal saline drops for infants and spray for older kids. Avoid combining several cold medications at a time, and make sure to administer the proper dosage to avoid complications.

David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Reader's Digest and GQ Magazine, among others.  David is a health and diet enthusiast, and frequently writes on a wide array of health topics for various publications, including regular editions appearing in healthline.com.  For more of his Healthline articles, visit http://www.healthline.com/.