If someone in my home coughs or sneezes, I’m like a nurse running to their rescue with tissue and a check of the forehead for a fever! My family jokes that I’m the sneeze police but I have good reason to worry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s estimated that five to ten percent of the population in the United States will get the seasonal flu. Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness. While I’m a healthy, vibrant person, I’ve experienced the flu and it’s an illness that I would not wish on my worst enemy.
An even scarier thought is the probability of one of my kids getting sick with the flu, which in some cases can be deadly. An especially “at risk” population for developing serious flu conditions are older people, young children and people with health conditions (asthma, lung disease, heart disease, etc.). While just coughing and sneezing does not mean you have the flu, there are some common symptoms to be on the lookout for: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
Yes, mommies and daddies, the flu is serious.
To even think of one of my kids bedridden with a potentially life threatening illness is enough for me to make an appointment to the pediatrician office for a flu vaccine. While waiting for a vaccination, what can a parent do to protect their children?
Here are some tips on how to protect your children and keep them illness free during these changing seasons:
1. Make sure you wash hands frequently with antibacterial soap. Using antibacterial soap will help wash away germs that kids spread by touching items and people.
2. Clean and disinfect surfaces daily. There are tons of disinfectants on the market. Buy some and spray down counters, doorknobs, light switches and even toys on a daily basis.
3. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your arm. We always tell our children to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing but using their hands can make others sick. Once they’re done with the tissues immediately throw it away.
4. Stay away from sick people. This seems like common sense but if someone is sneezing, coughing or has a fever stay clear of them—even if that means staying secluded in your house or in your office to avoid getting sick. This is increasingly difficult when parents send sick kids to school but teachers should be sending sick kids to the nurse's office to avoid infecting other kids.
Across the country, the seasons are changing and with that change comes the threat of the flu. Do your part and protect your kids and yourself!