Now that the kids are back to school that can mean only one thing...flu season is coming. Yep, that's right, there is a spike in flu in the fall that coincides with back to school, but don't despair, there is still hope!
You need to be aware of the danger zones for germs, and avoid risky activities that might expose your kids to them. Also take steps to keep healthy before illness strikes. Sometimes prevention is the best medicine. CNN gives us some information about back to school health risks and how to avoid them in the article below.
Posted By: CNN Health
Kids are most likely to get colds in the fall and winter. In part, that's because they're now indoors and in close contact with their fellow germy friends. It's also because cold viruses love low humidity. In these months, your nasal passages get drier, and that makes them magnets for the 200 viruses that can cause infections.
"It is stunning how many times kids touch their faces and then touch other kids," Rotbart said. "This is a very touchy-feely demographic, and that's how we share germs. ... And the little ones don't have the same exposure to germs that we do, so until their immune systems get built up, they get sick."
Schools are full of "hot zones" for germs, Rotbart says. "Most people think that's the bathroom, but it really isn't. Those get regularly cleaned."
If he had to rank the germiest places in school, No. 1 would be the drinking fountain. It's germier than the toilet seat, he says, but "doesn't get disinfected as much." Plus, it's the perfect spot for kids to ingest these microorganisms as they put their mouths on the stream of water -- or right on the fountain itself.
Rotbart suggests teaching students to run the water a little first and then drink. Or better yet, children should bring their own water bottles to school and not share them with anyone.
Cafeteria trays are another germ hot zone. "Those don't get wiped down nearly as well," he said, recommending that kids bring the tray to their table and then use hand sanitizer before they pick up their food.
"There is a real delicate balance, though; we don't want to make kids paranoid," Rotbart said. "We need to be prudent. Germs, for people who are healthy, really aren't a big deal."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highly recommends that students get vaccinated each flu season. It also advises students to stay home if they are sick, especially if they have a fever. They should be fever-free and have stopped showing signs of being sick like being flushed or sweating for 24 hours before going back. That helps keep germs from spreading.
Rotbart also tells parents to make sure their children get enough rest. School-age children should be in bed nine to 12 hours a night. High schoolers need eight to 10 hours, according to the CDC. Sleep deprivation lowers the immune system's ability to fight off infection, as does stress.
Exercise, Rotbart says, is another effective way to keep kids healthy. He suggests a daily dose of 40 minutes of running-around time, even in the winter. If it's cold, children need to keep their jackets zipped and hats on their heads.
"Your mother was right: Studies have shown that people who do bundle up against the cold are less likely to catch colds later on in the year," Rotbart said.
Keep your distance from people who are sick. Teach your kids to avoid touching others when they are sick, and remind them to stop touching their eyes, mouth and nose, since this spreads contamination.
Beat the Flu This Season
The best way to beat the flu is to not get sick in the first place. While that may seem obvious, it's actually something that we can work on and plan for. The healthier you are, the better your immune system will function and even if you get exposed to the flu, your system may be able to fight it off. Here's some quick tips:
- Wash your hands often (especially before eating)
- Avoid sharing food and drinks (water fountains are high risk)
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat healthy foods
- Get your flu vaccine!
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