When flu season hits, it can impact entire classrooms, families, schools, and more. It can lead to serious illnesses and complications, particularly in young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.
Keeping things on-hand to help when illness has already hit, such as children’s nasal mist and fever reduces is helpful, but what can you do proactively to keep kids healthy this flu season and reduce the likelihood they contract the illness?
First, you should know about the risks of flu season and this particular season, and then beyond that, the following offers some ways you can potentially decrease the likelihood of someone in your family coming down with the flu.
The 2019 Flu Season
The fall, usually in October, is when flu season officially begins although you can catch it any time of the year. The peak of flu season is typically anywhere from December to February, and cases start to decline in May.
The 2018-2019 flu season was one of the longest in ten years, and there were two different seasons if you looked at the dominant flu strains. In fall and early winter, most people got the H1N1 flu strain. The dominant strain then changed, and most people were getting H3N2, which lengthened the season.
The 2019-2020 flu vaccine is meant to protect against both H1N1 and H3N2, as well as some other possible strains that could appear.
Getting a flu vaccine is important for children, adults, and people of any age as long as there isn’t a medical reason not to.
The flu vaccine is a combination vaccine, and even if you were to get sick, it could help reduce how long you’re sick and the severity of your sickness. Getting the flu vaccine can reduce the potential that you’ll need to be hospitalized or experience serious complications from the illness.
The CDC’s recommendation is that everyone over the age of six months gets a flu vaccine. Since it’s not advised that infants receive the flu vaccine, it’s especially important their family and caregivers get it.
Teach Children About Handwashing
The importance of handwashing can’t be overestimated, especially during flu season. Washing your hands regularly and encouraging your children to do the same can keep your family healthier year-round and not just during the flu season.
Children should be taught to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and if that’s not an option, hand sanitizer with alcohol should be used frequently.
Kids should be washing their hands before they eat, after they go to the bathroom and after they play.
Staying hydrated is helpful for everyone during flu season in particular, although it’s pretty important year-round. .Staying hydrated can help keep mucus thin, which in turn makes it easier to blow your nose.
When kids have a fever, they need extra hydration because sweating can cause their bodies to lose more fluid.
Plus, staying hydrated has the general benefit of combating viruses.
Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Getting kids to each healthy is a challenge, but it can protect them from getting sick. First, having a range of colorful fruits and vegetables is important. Fruits and vegetables often have something called quercetin, and that can reduce the risk of getting the flu.
Fruits and vegetables are also high in things like zinc and vitamin C, which boost the immune system.
If you can get your kids to eat foods with garlic, that can also help stimulate their immune system.
If your kids are picky eaters, think about pureeing healthy items or adding them in a soup.
Some supplements may be good for the whole family during the flu season. Omega-3 supplements are one that can be useful. Omega-3s, which are found in fatty fish, as well as supplements, can increase the activity of white blood cells.
Vitamin D is also a good one, but few foods have vitamin D which is why a supplement may be best for your family. You can get vitamin D from the sun, but in the fall and winter, your access to the sun may be pretty limited.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that our bodies need to stay healthy and protect us against germs and viruses.
Many families might also take vitamin C supplements to guard against fall and winter illnesses.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Make sure your kids and everyone in your family is getting enough sleep each night. Having good quality sleep and enough of it helps your immune system function the way it should. The less sleep you get each night, the more likely you are to get sick.
Kids, depending on their age, need anywhere from 8 to 14 hours of sleep a night.
Avoid Germ Hotspots
Fall and winter are tough when you’re a parent. Your kids can’t get out and play as much as they (and you) might like because it’s cold, and there are few hours of daylight. This might make you all feel stir crazy which could mean you head for the nearest indoor playground or trampoline park. Unfortunately, these indoor play areas can be a breeding ground for illnesses.
If you do go, first make sure your own children aren’t showing signs of sickness.
Also, make sure you bring along your own hand sanitizer and use it liberally.
The physical activity can be good for kids’ immune systems, as long as they don’t pick up something along the way.
Finally, if you think your children or anyone in your family has the flu, go to the doctor as soon as possible. Visiting the doctor can help prevent complications, and there may be certain medicines a doctor can prescribe or recommend to reduce the risk of complications.
For example, there are instances where someone with the flu might be given an anti-viral, but it’s usually most effective if it’s taken within two days after the symptoms of the flu first start.