How to Help Minimize the Spread of Colds & Flu

mom with child washing hands in sink

Colds and Flu are the bane of many people’s lives, whether you are a child or parent. Sadly there’s no escaping them, and as the nights draw in and temperatures drop, they become more and more common. Although it’s pretty tricky to completely avoid catching a cold, there are some easy things you can build into your daily routine to help minimize your chance of suffering

Colds are viruses and there are many different types. This means that there’s no cure or complete treatment because there are so many variations of the same sickness. Effectively, every time you get a cold it’s likely to be a different or evolved strain. When you have a cold you are infectious to other people until all of your symptoms have disappeared, which could take up to two weeks. Your cold germs can survive on surfaces and your hands for 24 hours, which is one of the reasons that colds spread so easily, without you even realizing it.

When your child has a cold, it can be very easy for them to spread their germs around, especially if they have siblings or attend a daycare setting. It’s not practical to keep them wrapped up inside all winter so you’ll need to manage the spread of germs as much as possible. When you know that your child is sick, try your best not to bring them around other children, seniors, and pregnant women since they are most susceptible to getting sick. 

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From an early age, encourage your child to have good hygiene habits, including washing their hands with warm water and soap and covering their mouths when they sneeze or cough. Although blowing their own nose is a tricky skill to master, get your child used to you wiping their nose with a tissue. It can be very tempting for children to let their noses run or use their arm or sleeve to wipe it off, but this can cause germs to spread quickly.

If your child is suffering from a cold, try to isolate any household items that they’ve come into contact with and not share them with other family members. This is things like cups, bowls, cutlery, towels etc. You’ll never be able to catch everything though, so you don’t need to go overboard with the disinfectant spray.

Whilst we’re talking about cleaning, a small word of warning. Many parents like to keep their houses and possessions (and children) spotless and sparkling clean, but this can have some disadvantages. The use of chemicals and products, as well as a lack of germs, could actually have a negative effect on your child because they are not building their natural immunity. Whilst it can be quite scary and upsetting when your child is ill, especially at a young age, it’s one of those things that you get used to and it gets better as they get older. You can help boost your child’s immune system with a healthy diet and supplements containing Vitamins A, C and D, which can easily be found in a child’s multivitamin.

The majority of children aged from two years are eligible for the nasal spray flu vaccination. It’s a single spray in one nostril and the most common side effect is a slight runny nose. It’s available from your local pharmacy or at their pediatrician's office or clinic. The flu vaccine does not offer any protection against catching colds but can help to prevent it from developing into a worse sickness. No matter what, the best things for a sick child are plenty of fluids, plenty of rest, and plenty of love. Fear not though! It will pass and your child will soon be back to their normal self.

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