Has your child been coming down with frequent colds and viruses of late? Children are typically at a higher risk for contracting infections, especially at the start of the new school season. Young children especially haven't built up immunity to illness; therefore, when germs are passed around at school, they become vulnerable.
Once you realize why your child comes home with a nagging cough and runny nose, or a stomach virus, it may be easier to prevent illness. Here are a few factors that put your child at risk.
1. They Haven't Been Vaccinated for Influenza
An annual flu shot is a good measure for preventing the serious threat of influenza. Because school children are in close contact, they must be protected during the flu season. While receiving a flu shot does not guarantee your child won't contract the disease, it may help minimize the serious effects and risk of complications.
Speak to your child's pediatrician and ask about the flu vaccine. If recommended, your child needs to have the shot every year because various strains of influenza change from year to year.
2. They Share Utensils With Other Children
If your child shares drinking cups or eating utensils with other kids at school, they may pass germs around. This may be another reason why your son or daughter catches more colds and stomach bugs frequently. Explain to your child why sharing foods and drinks this way is unhealthy and ask him or her not to do so.
Sharing food or drinks may cause even more serious illness than the common cold or stomach virus. Meningitis may also be contracted by sharing utensils, cups, or food, so don't take that chance.
3. They Are Not Diligent About Hand Washing
If you are concerned that your child is getting sick too often, speak to him or her about the necessity of hand washing. Your child should be told to wash hands after using the bathroom, before eating, and after participating in activities that dirty the hands. Also, teach your child to wash their hands after using a public computer and computer mouse and keyboard, as germs often accumulate on those surfaces.
Equally important, your child needs to take time to properly wash. Your child should take time to wash thoroughly with warm, soapy water for about 20 seconds. Children can do so by singing the Happy Birthday song twice in succession. Tell your child to dry their hands with a clean paper towel afterwards.
It is also a good idea to pack a small hand sanitizer in your child's backpack for on-the-go use.
4. They Are Not Active Enough
Did you know that children who exercise regularly catch fewer illnesses than those who live a more sedentary lifestyle? According to the experts and conducted studies, children who regularly exercise and have physical activity get sick less frequently.
Exercise helps boost immunity and circulate cells that combat infection. Encourage your child to get off the couch and away from the TV and video games. Take long nature walks as a family, go for a bike ride together, or have your child participate in sports. Staying active may help keep your school-age child healthy, even while other kids are getting sick.
5. Their Backpack or Lunch Bag Is Harboring Germs
Lunch bags, totes, and backpacks are a haven for germs. Bacteria may grow inside backpacks and lunch bags, due to leftover food or a moist environment. Lunch bags and backpacks should be cleaned and sanitized regularly. Doing so is a simple process that may be accomplished by taking a sanitizing wipe and wiping the interior and exterior down.
Speak to your child's pediatrician, or visit our office at Valley Pediatric Clinic, to discuss further ways to prevent illness.