To begin with, make sure your kids are all up to date on their immunizations. While common colds can put a damper on your activities for a few days, consider the implications of putting your child at risk for contracting a much more serious disease such as pertussis or whooping cough. Pertussis is an upper respiratory infection that lasts several weeks and causes severe coughing that can lead to vomiting and choking and when the child is unable to breathe in enough oxygen, pertussis complications can include brain damage, mental retardation and death.
The seasonal flu vaccine is also an important way for you to keep your children healthy. Influenza is a viral infection that can vary from mild to severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for everyone six months and older. Each year the flu vaccine is developed to protect against the specific viruses that will be most common that season, so it is important to get vaccinated each year as soon as the vaccine is available.
Additionally, keep your children’s immune systems strong by encouraging healthy lifestyles. A balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, daily exercise and outdoor play, and the right amount of sleep will all contribute to a strong immune system.
Finally good hand hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illness. Teach your children to wash their hands often – before eating and after using the restroom, coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose or anytime their hands become soiled. Teach them to use soap and warm water, scrubbing all surfaces of their hands for at least 20 seconds.
If your children do get sick, provide them the appropriate care and do their classmates a favor – keep them home. Allow your children to rest and recover and prevent spreading their illness to others.