Kids are back in school, which means germs and viruses are spreading like wildfire. With the recent outbreaks of Enterovirus D68, a respiratory disease that causes wheezing and coughing and symptoms that mimic asthma, parents are on high alert for germs.
Enterovirus D68 (also called EV-D68) isn’t the only danger to kids. The common cold, the flu, chicken pox, MRSA, whooping cough, and a number of other illnesses that are widespread among children spread incredibly quickly. Many pediatricians also see a sharp increase in upper respiratory infections, sore throats, ear infections, pink eye and even bronchitis during the school year. It can be difficult to treat these illnesses and viruses, so prevention is key.
Here are a 10 ways that Centra Care recommends to help stave off illness and keep children (and yourself) healthy this fall:
- Wash hands often. The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds to effectively kill germs. Need a timer? Just hum the Happy Birthday song from beginning to end twice while scrubbing your hands.
- Eat healthier. Healthy eating increases energy and alertness, allowing your child to stay awake and focused during the school day and maintain a healthy immune system. Healthy eating can have the same benefits for parents. Acidic fruit can also stop many viruses in their tracks. Try eating lemons, apples, blueberries, oranges, and even apple cider vinegar.
- Sleep tight. A good night’s rest is vital for health and well-being. Establish a proper sleeping routine and stick to it. Toddlers need about 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. Preschoolers typically need 11-13 hours nightly. Children ages 5 to 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep.
- Avoid close contact with anyone sick. Your family may be close, but if one of your kids is sick there is a good chance that it will spread quickly. Try to keep anyone sick, even in your home, away from hugging and kissing your children.
- Drink something hot. Drinking hot tea and breathing in the steam can stimulate your the hair follicles in your nose, which can move germs out of your body faster. Drinking something like hot tea with honey have antibacterial components and lemon water can clear your sinuses.
- Relax. Just like you need a good night’s rest, your body needs times to rest while you are awake to maintain a healthy immune system. Take at least a half hour a day to relax and de-stress so that your body can fight off viruses more easily.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces. Whenever possible, wipe surfaces down with disinfecting wipes. Since we are not able to clean or disinfect every single surface we touch, keep your hands to yourself as much as possible.
- Stay home when you are sick. The CDC recommends staying home when you are sick, not only to reduce stress and facilitate rest, but to prevent the spread of germs any further. Only leave when absolutely necessary, for instance, to see a doctor.
- Keep the bathroom hygienic. Germs can live on towels long enough to make kids sick, so make sure to wash your towels regularly. Since viruses can be spread through spit, make sure to wash hand towels that are used by the whole family often or consider disposable towels for the bathroom.
- Don’t allow sharing at meals. It can be hard to enforce, but sharing food, drinks, silverware, or anything multiple people have put their mouths on is an automatic risk- even with family members.
If your kids are showing signs of any respiratory problems or viruses, make sure to take them to their pediatrician as soon as possible. If they are able to be put on an antibiotic, the spread of germs can be cut down significantly so your kids can be back to having fun this school year.
Kim Graham is a registered nurse and Assistant Director of Nursing for Centra Care. Florida Hospital Centra Care has served Florida for over 30 years and now Bay Area parents can take advantage of Centra Care’s trusted, compassionate care at its three area locations: Brandon/Riverview, Wesley Chapel and South Tampa. Visit any Centra Care and find a caring staff and kid-friendly environment, including pediatric waiting and exam rooms that will make both you and your child feel comfortable. For your convenience, Centra Care also offers on-site labs, X-rays, EKG, stitches, physicals, breathing treatments and immunizations. Centra Care also understands injuries and illnesses can happen at the most unexpected moments so walk-ins are always welcome.Visit www.CentraCare.org for more health tips.