During these frozen months of winter, the risk for catching the flu is at its greatest. While many people believe that getting sick is caused by the drop in temperature during winter, cold air is not the real enemy. The reason sickness runs rampant this time of year is because we shut ourselves inside, giving germs and viruses the chance to spread much faster and easier from person to person within the confines of school, the workplace, or home.
You may notice that your coworkers are absent and that the warning notes from school about spreading sickness have piled up. Though illness is a concern for everyone, younger children stand a higher chance of contracting illness. If you are worried and want to help protect your children against this winter’s flu strain, make sure to follow these tips to improve their chances of staying healthy:
- Get a flu shot. The best way to keep your child healthy is to be proactive. If your doctor approves, take your child to get a flu shot before they are exposed to the virus.
- Wash hands frequently. Emphasize the importance of washing hands at school and at home, especially before and after meals, after using the restroom, or after recess time.
- Use hand sanitizer. Pack a portable bottle of hand sanitizer in your child’s backpack and encourage them to use it throughout the day when they cannot wash their hands with soap and water.
- Drink plenty of water. Keeping your intake of fluids high is crucial to staying healthy. When your body is hydrated, it can fight sickness much more effectively.
- Eat healthy. The same goes for food—having your body stocked with the right nutrients will give it the weapons it needs to fight off viral invaders.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Physical exhaustion can make you more susceptible to sickness because your body is fighting to help you through your daily activities and cannot give all its energy to battling viruses. Be sure to get plenty of rest.
- Avoid sharing food and drinks. Ingestion is the easiest way for sickness to spread, so instruct your children not to share cups or utensils.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Avoid spraying those flu germs all over your unfortunate neighbors. Have tissues handy if you can, or aim for your elbow if a sneeze comes on suddenly.
- If you are sick, stay home and rest. Repower your body so it has the energy to heal. Don’t expose others to your illness! If you or your children are sick, it is best for you to stay home.
- Get enough vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin might be hard to come by during these frostbitten and overcast months, but you can find it in foods like dairy products, orange juice, and fish. Strengthen your immune system with vitamin and mineral supplements if you are concerned that your diet isn’t providing enough.
In addition to following these tips, bundle up your children and yourself and get outside. Instead of shielding yourselves from the chilly air, give the cold outdoors a chance to keep your children healthy and refreshed this flu season!