Influenza season usually comes around during the fall and winter seasons, and this is when kids are the most at risk for contracting the flu. The NFID reports high infection rates among children; accounting for 20-30% of cases annually. Because the virus travels through the air, anyone can contract the disease from being exposed to a single conversation, cough, or sneeze. Flu can bring a great deal of discomfort and danger to children — they can manifest high fever and fatigue, aches, cough and colds, and other symptoms. Worse, it is estimated that an average of 20,000 children, mostly under the age of 5, are hospitalized yearly due to flu complications.
This is why influenza should not be taken lightly and must be countered by preventive measures. With that, we’ve listed below some essential tips parents should take note of to protect their children.
Teach them proper sanitation techniques
This entails washing one’s hands frequently with soap and water, sanitizing via alcohol or hand sanitizer, and sanitizing surfaces that are often touched. Health coalition The Global Handwashing Partnership highlights how proper handwashing can reduce the infection rate of respiratory diseases by 25%. Kids tend to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth often, so proper sanitation can really help reduce their chances of getting sick. Teach them to wash their hands before and after meals, after going to the restroom, after touching animals, or after doing household chores. It’s also important to wash their hands after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing. This also applies if they were exposed to someone who has exhibited those symptoms.
Keep their immunization up to date
Doctors recommend that children get a yearly vaccine every fall, or right before the flu season fully sets in. Kids ages six months and older can get the vaccine, and those six-eight years of age might need a double dosage for full protection. A vaccine has many benefits; it can reduce the risk of flu illness and hospitalization, can render flu symptoms less severe, and prevents the flu from spreading among families and communities through herd immunity. Studies have also shown that the flu vaccination reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit admission by 74% during the flu season.
Maintain a healthy family diet
Instilling healthy eating habits for the family is a given in order to keep their immune system strong. Other than serving high amounts of carbs, protein, and fat, parents should incorporate lots of vitamins and minerals to ensure that they’re consuming a healthy, balanced diet. Trusted health resource SymptomFind has a feature on the benefits of vitamin C that explains how it is one of the most crucial vitamins for immune system functionality. The human body cannot spontaneously generate this nutrient, so consuming vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, and berries is vital. Other nutrients include vitamin E, which can be found in nuts and seeds, and vitamin A, which is available in plenty of vegetables.
In our post ‘The Importance of Encouraging Your Kids to Take Up Sports’, we highlight how part of strengthening one’s immune system is getting regular, moderate exercise. This is because the lack of exercise can lead to all kinds of health consequences linked to the heart, lungs, and body state. Bouts of physical activity can spark a rise in immune system cells circulating the body that work to attack foreign invaders, and although it falls back within a few hours, each session can help increase resistance against infections like the flu.
Although you can never protect your kids a full 100% against the health threats around them, guiding them through these steps can definitely boost their chances of fighting off viruses and keep them healthy during the flu season. For more tips on fostering wellness for you and your family, check out our website here at HueTrition.