Did you know that 10-20% of Canadians get sick with the flu each year? And 12,2000 people are hospitalized for complications and severe infection, and 3,500 people die each year from the flu? These are large numbers! Flu can kill you!
Flu aside, most people will get at least one cold a year, with most daycare/school aged kids getting 6-12 viral infections a year! There are some easy ways to prevent your kids from catching these annoying viruses.
Keep Hands Clean
I know you’ve heard it a million times, but washing your hands with soap and water, or using a sanitizing gel really does decrease the risk of getting infections. Wash for 20 seconds or more (as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice!) You want to remember to do this often, especially after using the washroom, before eating, or after touching ‘dirty’ surfaces such as public door handles, elevator buttons and the like.
Keep Your Hands Away From Your Face!
Teach your kids to avoid touching their nose, mouth, and eyes whenever possible. This is how bacteria and viruses take hold—by entering your body through mucous membranes like your nose, eyes, and mouth. If it’s a hole on your face, don’t be touching it. If you’re going to touch it, pick it, rub it, or caress it—wash first.
Keep Surfaces Germ-Free
Viruses and bacteria can live on surfaces for hours or even days. Just assume every doorknob, pen, chair, and keyboard is covered in illness-causing germs. It’s a gong-show of virus and bacteria anywhere a human hand has lingered during viral seasons. You just can’t count on everyone to be as diligent as you are at washing. Consider cleaning these surfaces often (and encourage others to do the same), or keep hand sanitizers close by and ready to use after you use public places. Antiseptic wipes are great to keep on hand too to wipe those yucky surfaces. Remember, you may be diligent and cautious, but your kids are constantly playing with other kids, putting shared toys in their mouths and pretty much licking each other.
You and your kids should get off the couch and run around for at least 60 minutes a day, EVERY DAY! Your heart will become stronger, and your immune system will be better able to fight infection if you are healthy and active.
Get Enough Sleep
It can seem difficult to get enough sleep when we are so busy with our kids and careers, but it is so important! Kids should get at least 10 hours a day of sleep, but ideally 12 hours! Adults need to hit that 8-hour mark, and most people do even better with more. The better rested you are, the more easily your boys can fight off illnesses.
Just as exercise and sleep are important, so is what you put in your body. Try to ‘eat the rainbow’, a variety of foods every day with different nutrients and vitamins. These will help you fight that next cold.
Thankfully, we can vaccinate our kids for lots of viral and bacterial infections that could make your child and you sick. We can choose to vaccinate our children to protect them against the flu virus as well. We even have a nose spray version so your child can avoid a needle!
Have a healthy and happy fall!
Did you know? Free flu shots are available at all Rexall Drugstore locations across Canada without an appointment. Get yours today!
Dr. Dina Kulik is a mother and pediatrician in Toronto and is one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information to parents and the public through television, radio and print media and via her thriving blog http://DrDina.ca. She is the CEO and Medical Director of Kidcrew, a multi-disciplinary health care centre dedicated to providing comprehensive care to children. Above all, Dina’s greatest joy is her family and being the mom of three active, happy boys.