As a parent, one of the most distressing things is to see your child suffering from an illness or injury — and not be able to make it better. With the cold and flu season in full swing, and with this season’s influenza virus being particularly strong, you’ve likely already dealt with a sick child (or you will soon).
Parents are always asking their family health care providers how to help children get through these illnesses, and although there are countless tips and home remedies to try out, one factor is incredibly important (and often ignored): making sure that you, as the parent, stay healthy even when you’re taking care of a sick child.
Here are just a few ideas about how to keep yourself healthy when there are sick children running around the house:
- Get the flu shot every year! Even when it’s less effective than initially predicted, it can still help you fight off the influenza virus faster and will make the symptoms milder if you happen to contract it. Family health care providers always have the vaccines on hand, and many family health clinics and urgent care facilities offer the vaccines at a low price (and if you have insurance, these shots are usually covered under family health care plans!).
- Don’t give germs any time to spread. If this means you have to put a box of antibacterial wipes in every room, then so be it. The places that germs tend to thrive and spread easily are also the places that are easily forgotten when cleaning: doorknobs, handles on electric appliances, any electronic devices (phones, remote controls, etc.), and faucet handles.
- Teach good habits, such as hand washing and covering the mouth when sneezing — and teach by example. It’s important to teach kids that the most common colds and viruses are spread through mucus and fluids, and that frequent hand-washing and covering up sneezes (with the elbow, not the hand) are the two best ways to fend off sickness.
- Know the difference between a cold and the flu. The symptoms are often very similar, but especially with the 2014-2015 influenza virus really wreaking havoc across the country, it’s important to recognize flu symptoms when they occur so that you can keep a close watch on your child to make sure that the symptoms don’t worsen. Kids have weaker immune systems, making them more vulnerable to complications from the flu virus. If you notice flu symptoms worsening, it’s important to bring your child to your neighborhood health clinic for immediate medical attention (especially if your regular family health care physician’s office is closed, and your child might need a prescription medication).
Now we’re asking for your input! How do you stay healthy while taking care of sick kids? We’d love to hear any advice you may have!