The weather and the leaves start to turn and even though it is maybe one of the prettiest times of year in the Upstate, the beauty also brings worries. Cold and flu season are starting again. Runny noses and coughing become as prevalent as the falling leaves and if your children are in school it is almost guaranteed they will catch something. We have some recommendations on how to keep your family healthy this year!
1. Get a flu shot.
Check out the event calendar on our website for information about Flu Clinics at each of our locations. While it’s true that the flu shot isn’t 100 percent effective, recent studies show it does reduce the risk of contracting the potentially debilitating illness by about 50 to 60 percent. If you do catch this year’s flu, having had a flu shot can make your symptoms milder. Remember, that Flu Mist is no longer considered a viable option for those of you who are not fans of needles. We are sorry but the spray has been proven ineffective. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that it was only 3 percent effective against the most common viruses that circulated last season; as a result, the American Academy of Pediatrics says it should not be used.
2. Wash your hands – all of your hands.
Having regular breaks to wash your hands, as well as, washing before and after eating and using the restroom can reduce the average student’s number of sick days. Lathering up with soap and water (any temperature is fine—research suggests warm doesn’t work any better than cold), and then scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, is the best way to get rid of germs, according to the CDC. Second-best: applying a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol.
Getting enough quality sleep is essential for your immune system to function the way it is supposed to. The best way for your family to maintain a good sleep pattern is to set a bedtime routine and stick to it. It is easy for bedtimes to be forgotten on weekends and holidays but adjusting the schedule by one hour can have lasting effects for days. Just how important is sleep? In one seminal study published in 2009, researchers administered nasal drops that contained a cold virus to more than 150 adults. Those who had averaged less than seven hours of sleep nightly for the prior two weeks were almost three times more likely to get sick as those who had slept eight hours or more. Children need even more rest— anywhere from eight to 14 hours a night, depending on a kid’s age. (source: parents.com)
4. Take the right supplements.
Talk to your doctor about what supplements make sense for your children. Many kids are recommended to take vitamin D (found in many children’s multivitamins) and vitamin C (found in fruits and vegetables, including oranges, grapefruit, bell peppers, and kale).
Vitamin D is becoming known for fighting colds and flu. It is difficult to get enough from food and sunlight can cause skin cancer, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all kids take at least 400 IU of vitamin D a day, beginning in infancy. Vitamin D supplements are especially important for breastfed children.
Vitamin C isn’t necessarily a magic pill to stay healthy but it doesn’t hurt to boost your immune system and help fight off sickness. If you don’t feel like you and your family consume enough through your diet, speak to your doctor about the appropriate amount to take.
4. Keep your sick child at home.
If your child is sick, keep them home from school. This will keep it from being spread to other children and potentially passed back around to your home. Not sure when your child is sick enough to stay home? A simple runny nose, if your child is not acting differently, is probably okay but if your child has a runny nose and other symptoms that may keep him from performing well at school it might be good to stay home. If your child has a fever, please stay home. Fever is a sign that your body is fighting the germs that are making you sick. It’s a common symptom of infections like flu. If it’s 101 F or higher, wait until your child is fever-free for at least 24 hours before sending her back to school.
If your child has diarrhea or vomitting, keep her at home and make sure she gets lots of fluids to drink. Keep your child at home if he has vomited twice or more in the last 24 hours. She can go back to school after his symptoms clear up or the doctor says she’s no longer contagious.