How to Keep Kids and Teenagers Healthy During Flu Season
Keeping kids and teenagers healthy during flu season isn’t easy, especially because you’re probably relying on your fellow parents to do the same. To help your family power through the winter months, Pacific Family Practice has put together a list of tried-and-true methods for helping prevent the spread of influenza.
Important note: Pacific Family Practice offers patients after hours care. We are open until 9pm Monday – Friday and have Saturday hours as well, from 10am – 4pm. If you are sick, injured, or seeking general practice care, you don’t have to wait until the next business day or for the weekend to pass. Patients are encouraged to take advantage of our after hours care whenever needed.
1. Don’t forget the flu vaccine.
It should go without saying, but many people do forget to get a yearly flu shot. When you schedule your child for an annual back-to-school or sports physical in September or October, ask your doctor to administer the flu vaccine at that time if it is available. Please note, the flu season extends from October to May, so getting the flu shot is an option throughout that time but is especially important in the fall and early winter months.
2. Remind them to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.
Another seemingly obvious flu prevention tip is handwashing. It’s important that your kids use antibacterial soap after going to the bathroom and before eating. They should wet their hands, work up a good lather with the soap, massage the lather onto the skin for about 30 seconds and then rinse thoroughly. If your children’s school allows this, pop a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in their backpacks for use on the go. It’s also a good idea to show your kids how they can use a paper towel or their sleeve to open and close bathroom doors.
3. Serve them a healthy diet and daily multivitamin.
Boosting one’s intake of nourishing vitamins and minerals can help fortify the immune system during cold and flu season. Make sure your kids and teens are drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water. Ask your doctor to recommend a multivitamin and even a probiotic if your child is not already taking them every day.
4. Make sure they get plenty of sleep.
Some kids struggle to get adequate rest, especially if they are under stress from school or sports concerns. The minimum amount of sleep your child gets shouldn’t dip below eight hours, and some kids will sleep 10 or more hours per night, depending on their age and needs. If your child is having trouble falling or staying asleep, try these tips:
- Prohibit bright light and screens for at least one to two hours before bedtime
- Create a relaxing bedtime ritual with soft music, aromatherapy or meditation
- Discourage eating and drinking right before bed to avoid indigestion or urinary urgency
- Take some time to listen to and talk about your kid’s worries and thoughts
5. Avoid people who have the flu.
If people at school are getting sick, it’s important to remind your child to keep a safe distance from sick friends and teachers during cold and flu season. This means abstaining from hand-holding, hugging, and other touching.
If your child gets the flu, make sure to take whatever influenza treatment medication is prescribed by your pediatrician. Keep your kid home from school when ill and encourage behaviors like blowing their nose and disposing of tissues properly and covering the mouth when coughing to help prevent the virus from spreading to family members.
As a parent, it’s normal for you to want to keep your kids and teenagers healthy during flu season. If they do get sick, take this opportunity to slow down, rest more and take care of your whole family...including yourself.