Guest post contributed by Hannah Whittenly
Getting a cold is bad enough, but the flu is exponentially worse. Comparatively, a cold is like being hit by a kid on a skateboard while an influenza infection is like getting hit by a bus. You not only want to keep your children flu-free for their own benefit, but you also want to protect yourself and the rest of your family from being sidelined for a couple of weeks, or longer. Here are some tips to keep your kids from the flu this school year.
Help Teachers Combat the Flu
Public school budgets are fixed each year. Teachers are selfless in buying things their classrooms need from their own money. You can help by coordinating with teachers to provide them with things such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and tissues. Hands spread the flu. Kids touch infected surfaces, then touch their noses or eyes. The flu is also spread from aerosolized droplets from coughs and sneezes. Sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and tissues help stop the spread.
Get the Shot
Talk to professional healthcare providers, such as those at the Memorial Hospital of Converse County, about the facts of the seasonal flu vaccine. Each year certain flu variants become predominant, and a trivalent vaccine protects against three strains. A quadrivalent vaccine covers four. You cannot get the flu from a flu vaccine, and, if you have any concerns, not all vaccine preparations contain the preservative Thimerosal. The best protection from getting the flu is your children’s own immune system, and the seasonal flu vaccine helps your children resist the prevailing flu strains each flu season.
Strengthen the Immune System with Food
A healthy diet gives children what they need to grow strong as well as resist infections such as the flu. Infection results when an individual is exposed to a pathogen and the pathogen finds an environment in the body where it can proliferate. You need to be exposed to what is called an “infectious dose.” If your child has a weakened immune system from making poor dietary choices, it takes fewer viral particles to cause illness. Those fruits and vegetables as well as getting proper rest do make a difference. Encourage your children to make better food choices at cafeteria lunches and to avoid the vending machines located in some schools.
Teach Precautionary Measures
If you have children that have been very sick with a bad cold or the flu, strike up a conversation about how sick they felt. Revisit how it felt to be coughing and sneezing or to be vomiting and have diarrhea. Then, talk about ways to avoid getting sick again. Explain how viruses often get in by touching an infected surface, then having contact with their eyes, nose or mouth. Choosing to not touch their eyes or nose with unwashed hands is a great idea. Not drinking from the same container as a friend is a good idea too. Teach them how they can help stop the spread of virus particles in the air by teaching their own friends to sneeze or cough into tissues or to do the elbow sneeze.
If you have done everything you can and the flu still pays a visit to your family, then get to the Urgent Care Center of Memorial Hospital of Converse County right away. There are treatments for the flu that can lessen its intensity and shorten its duration if administered within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Plus, if your child already has a compromised immune system from diabetes, asthma or other chronic illnesses, getting early medical intervention for the flu can help prevent serious influenza complications that may require hospitalization.