If you have little ones at home, you know it can be difficult to keep them well through the winter. But there are steps you can take to make sure you stay well enough to care for them.
If it’s winter, it must be cold and flu season. And if you have a young child, you know the odds are stacked against him or her making it until spring without catching at least one case of the sniffles.
That’s just a fact of life when your little pride and joy contracts, on average, eight to 10 colds a year.
It’s also a fact of life that, where there are sick children, there are often sick parents. So what can you do, short of adding a surgical mask to your wardrobe, to protect your health this winter?
Here are some tips to help prevent your child’s germs from growing too attached to you.
Give your child coughing directions
Most of us were taught that it was polite to cover our mouths with our hand when we coughed. That may be polite, but it’s not hygienic. Teach your child to cough into a tissue or, more likely, his sleeve. And when he forgets (he is, after all, a child) be prepared to duck away from the spray.
Cleanliness is healthiness
Considering that 80 percent of infections are spread by touch, teaching your child to wash her hands frequently is one of the most important steps you can take to protect her, and your, health. Germs live just about anywhere your child can think to touch. But if she is washing her hands regularly, the germs she may have picked up from school or elsewhere might not make it into her eyes or mouth or onto you. If you are also washing your hands regularly you are not only modeling good behavior, you are helping ensure you aren’t the one infecting your child in the first place.
Clean up the virus
If your child has the flu, he can leave the influenza viruses virtually anywhere he touches, and it can linger there for up to two days. To protect yourself from picking it up, use any household soap or disinfectant to clean any surfaces your child may have touched, such as doorknobs, tables and handrails.
Limit close contact This is a hard one, since hugs and kisses are most effective, and second nature for you, when your child is ill. But obviously such demonstrations of your love and compassion put you at greater risk of catching your child’s bug.
Take care of yourself too
Caring for a sick child can be a full-time job with lots of late hours. But by making sure you get plenty of rest and exercise and eat properly, you’ll increase your natural protection against whatever is ailing your child.
Your Best Protection
The better you protect your child from getting sick, the greater the chance you stay well yourself. Here are five important steps you can take to help preserve your child’s health:
- Make sure your child washes his hands often.
- Teach your child not to touch her eyes or nose.
- If your child's in a daycare center, ask about its policy
- related to separating sick kids and healthy ones.
- Make sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date.
- Make sure your child eats healthy foods, gets plenty of rest and lots of physical activity to boost his powers of immunity naturally.
Dr. Omer is a children’s specialist in practice at Columbia Hills Family Medicine in The Dalles. To make an appointment with her or any of the clinic’s pediatric specialists, please call 541.296.9151.
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