Learn How To Protect Your Children From The Flu and The Common Cold Alike
As parents, caregivers, or educators, the flu (or influenza) season can be one of the most challenging times of the year. Children are free spirits and it can take a lot of effort to inculcate good hygiene in them. Flu circulates all year round, but peaks during the fall and winter seasons between December to February. With fall and winter approaching, we have made a list of good habits for your child to avoid the flu.
What’s the difference between the Flu and a cold?
Before we begin, it’s important to understand the difference between a flu and a cold. Both these viral diseases are extremely common amongst people of all ages, especially children. While the differences are obvious enough, they can be hard to figure out during the first stage of an infection.
Symptoms of a common cold in children
- A feeling of congestion in nose and throat
- Sore throat
- Chest discomfort
The common cold has several symptoms that cause mild to severe discomfort. However, it’s important that you nip it in the bud through well-known healthy habits for your children when they have a cold. Some of these are:
- Gargling with warm water and salt
- Inhaling steam with a plant oil (such as Eucalyptus oil) or Vicks vaporub added to the water
If you do these at the starting stages, it is very likely that your child’s cold gets cured easily. However, ignoring it may make it severe, causing the need for a doctor’s visit. Sometimes, a build-up of phlegm has also been known to cause pneumonia, a life-threatening disease.
Symptoms of the flu in children
- High fever for several days
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Children also experience vomiting and diarrhea
Influenza or the flu has several hundreds of strains. Year after year, the flu hits hundreds of children across the country and affects their growth. We’ve made a list of healthy habits for your children to help avoid and fight against several diseases, including the flu. Note that for an effective diagnosis against the flu, Lenco’s blood tests give a comprehensive insight into your child’s internal health and vitality.
Here are some warning signs of severe flu in your child and if you observe any of these signs, rush to the hospital immediately:
- Fast breathing or troubled breathing
- Bluish lips or face
- Ribs pulling in with each breath
- Chest pain
- Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
- Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
- Not alert or interactive when awake
- Fever above 104°F
- Fever in children less than 12 weeks
- Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions
Please note that some of the symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are similar, making them hard to diagnose. Lenco laboratories offer state-of-the-art testing facilities for detecting COVID-19. A good and timely diagnosis can go a long way in helping save your children’s health. Contact your physician to know which test is best for your child.
Now, it will be easier for you to understand if your child is suffering from a normal cold, or the flu. The chief and most glaring symptom is the fever, which is usually absent in a child suffering from cold. It is worrying to see your little one suffering from an influenza or any other viral or bacterial disease. As the popular axiom goes, “Better late than never”. It’s easier to inculcate healthy habits in your child than to reverse the effects of millions of bacterial and viral strains.
List of healthy habits for your child during the flu season
Here’s a list of healthy habits that fight cold and flu viruses:
Hand washing in children is an extremely good habit. It’s important that children wash their hands when:
- They return home from school
- Before and after every meal
- After they use the washroom
- They return home from the playground or PE
- They play on untidy surfaces
This good habit is hard to inculcate in children, as almost every child is too imaginative to find this mundane activity worth their time.
Here are some tips to help develop this healthy habit in your children:
Sing a song: The ideal length of time to wash hands is around 15-20 seconds. This is approximately the length of two happy birthday songs. Make hand washing your child’s favorite activity by singing their favourite song throughout the duration.
Use interesting soaps: Having children wash their hands can be hard, but not if you make it seem like a reward. Use interesting soaps, such as those shaped like their favorite animals. Additionally, you can try using soaps of different flavors to make them smell good too! Another useful trick is to hide the soap in the top drawers away from your child’s reach. This can help make handwashing look like an exclusive activity.
Use a reward system: Add points to a chart every time that your children wash their hands. This makes them realize that handwashing is a highly appreciated trait in your household.
Lead by example: Often, the best way to inculcate the habit of handwashing is to do it yourself. Children love to imitate their parents, and as their role model, you will have the opportunity to instill good hygiene habits.
Note that many doctors do not recommend using sanitizers as it can be abrasive to your child’s sensitive hands. Moreover, it was found that using sanitizers results in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Use warm water and soap instead.
The next most important thing is teaching your child how to cough and sneeze. A very good habit for your children is to learn to cough into their arms or elbows. Teach your children how to cough and into the crook of their elbows. Coughing and sneezing into elbows helps prevent the spread of germs much more efficiently than by coughing and sneezing into hands.
Avoid touching the face
Children frequently touch each other’s faces. However, many of the viral symptoms such as runny noses can be easily transferred to your child’s face when they touch another infected child. A very good habit for your children is to avoid fussing with their faces. For instance, conjunctivitis spreads very easily through this body-to-body contact. In teenage years too, children are more susceptible to acne due to their habit of touching their faces, as hands get dirty by touching various surfaces.
A good habit for children to avoid getting infected by the flu is to learn to blow into tissues. Not just that, teach your child to throw the used tissue in the trash and not the floor, as littering on the floor can still spread their infection.
Use yearly flu vaccination
Perhaps the most efficient and effective preventative method is to use the yearly flu vaccine for children above 6 months of age. No matter how hard we try, children tend to come down with the flu almost every year due to their budding immune system. To help avoid their suffering (and yours), get your child vaccinated. Learn more about the types of flu vaccine for children
The truth is that teaching healthy habits to children is not easy. As any parent would agree, it can take weeks to inculcate a good habit, and just a day to break it. It’s also really hard to avoid infections and fevers in your children when they are young. Free-spirited and delicate, children tend to catch and spread infections at the drop of an eye.