As anyone who has or works with kids knows, they are the cutest germ factories on earth. Put a bunch of them together in a school and you have the perfect recipe for mass sniffles, colds, sinus infections and influenza.
Though a couple of colds may be inevitable during the school year, you can help your child stay as healthy as possible and avoid the flu and other more serious illnesses in Birmingham by following:
The ABCs of Healthy Habits
A is for “Antibiotics”
Don’t overuse them! Antibiotics only kill bacteria. They have absolutely no effect on the viruses that cause colds, coughs and the flu. Requesting or accepting antibiotic therapy when it’s not necessary may actually make your child resistant to their effects. Then, when your child does need antibiotics, such as when he or she gets an ear infection, they may not work. If your child has a viral-based illness such as a cold or flu, treat the symptoms, let him or her get plenty of rest and use an antiviral medication prescribed by your pediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.
B is for “Bring Your Own”
Sharing may be the first rule of kindergarten, but when it comes to school, sharing personal items such as combs, barrettes, chapsticks and water bottles is a great way to share germs, too. Make sure your child’s personal items are marked so he or she can keep track of them. A water bottle ensures your child doesn’t have to use the public water fountain.
How many germs can children get if they forget their water bottle or don’t wash their hands after sports? In one ABC News experiment, a germ count of 300 was considered “germy.” They determined that the public water fountain spigot had a germ count of 2,335. That was higher than pencil sharpeners and desktops. But the germiest thing of all was a basketball, which had a germ count of 13,987!
C is for “Cough in a Tissue”
That goes for sneezes, too. If a tissue isn’t available, your child can cough or sneeze into the inside crook of their arm. Remind him or her to wash their arm as soon as possible, which brings us to …
D is for “Destroy Bacteria!”
That may sound a little more fun to your kid than simply saying, “Wash your hands!” Encourage good personal hygiene by reminding your son or daughter to lather up with soap and hot water:
- Before eating
- After blowing nose, coughing or sneezing
- After using the toilet
- After touching a classmate who has the sniffles or a cold
- After touching anything “germy” — that includes playground equipment, sports equipment such as balls and bats, garbage and even library books.
E is for “Eating Well”
Relying on school lunches or nearby fast food joints means taking a risk that your child isn’t getting a nutritious meal. Send your child to school with a home-packed lunch that includes fresh vegetables and fruits. Good nutrition builds up your child’s immune system, making him or her more resistant to bugs and other baddies.
F is for “Flu Shot” … and Staying Up-to-Date on Vaccinations
Keeping your child healthy means emphasizing prevention first and foremost. School-age children have a higher rate of flu than other populations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ear, nose and throat specialists for children can give your child a flu shot before or during the flu season to help him or her stay healthy and strong.
In addition to a flu shot, your child should also be current on other vaccinations such as those against measles, mumps and rubella. Unvaccinated children not only have a high risk of developing these childhood illnesses, they can pass them on to others, too.
G is for “Go to Your Pediatric ENT for a Preventive Flu Shot”
A visit to the ear, nose and throat doctor for tests and treatment is also essential when your child develops any of these symptoms of flu or another viral or bacterial infection:
H is for “Home”
If your child has cold or flu symptoms, don’t send him or her to school to infect other children, too. Ask the teacher for the day’s assignments and homework and let your child rest quietly in bed. Be sure to follow your pediatric ENT’s instructions for nutrition and medication.
Schedule an Appointment at Pediatric ENT Associates in Birmingham Today
It’s not too late to protect your child with a flu shot. The caring board-certified pediatricians at Pediatric ENT Associates in Birmingham, Alabama can help keep your child safe and healthy, plus diagnose and treat any illnesses that develop throughout the year. Call now to schedule an appointment or use our convenient email form.
Next, read How to Tell If Your Child Has Hearing Loss