Many people associate cold weather with the common cold or flu. And although some may disagree, many experts believe that while colder temperatures are not directly responsible for making people sick, viruses that cause colds and flu spread more easily in lower temperatures.
For parents, this time of year is always challenging because it’s normally when children are struck down with vicious colds, or worse, the nasty flu. And given that no matter how good a parent we are, we just don’t have the power to control the weather, what exactly can we then do to keep our little ones free of these nasty bugs?
Boosting their immune systems with a good multivitamin before and during winter, giving them the daily recommended dose of vitamin C and ensuring they eat properly are all essential in the prevention against colds and flu. However, there are two bigger weapons than these. These are good hygiene and the flu vaccine.
Most viruses are airborne and enter the body via the hands so it goes without saying that the best thing you can do to prevent your child from catching whatever is going around is to encourage regular and proper hand-washing. You must also teach your kids to keep their hands away from their faces as much as possible because constantly touch noses, eyes and mouths increases the risk of getting infected.
When it comes to hygiene it’s also important to teach children to sneeze or cough into a tissue or a bent elbow instead of the hands. That will keep them from spreading germs onto everything they touch which is vital, especially in a household with more than one child.
Although there has been some debate and controversy over the effectiveness of flu vaccines, most experts agree that this is a vital defence against the influenza virus. Given their weaker immune systems, children are at higher risk of serious complications from flu and therefore will benefit from any additional protection.
The rate of flu infection and hospitalisation are highest among young children who often develop serious other illnesses (some lethal) if infected with influenza. Therefore it is recommended that children from the ages of six months should be immunised annually. Although babies younger than six months old can’t get the vaccine, their parents and caregivers should as this will go a long way to keep the infant safe.