Everyone knows the adage: stay out of winter weather or risk catching a cold. Of course, cold weather alone doesn’t make you sick. Viruses and bacteria cause illnesses, but these pathogens are often more effective in the winter. People also tend to huddle up more in the cold months, making it easier for airborne pathogens to spread.
How can you keep your children illness-free during cold and flu season? Here are a few tips to help keep your family healthy through the cold season.
The most effective way for your family to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated. Flu vaccines are available at pharmacies and from the doctor’s office. The flu virus mutates rapidly, so families need to get updated vaccines every year. If you don’t get your family up-to-date shots, they won’t have the best protection from the current flu strain.
Remember, getting a flu shot can cause minor symptoms, like fever and aches. Consider taking a day off work to recover from your flu shot and keeping your children out of school for a day so they can rest. Missing a day is a small price to pay to keep your family healthy!
Some seasonal illnesses can worsen in dry conditions. Dry air can irritate your children’s sinuses and increase the chances of both sinus and inner ear infections. These infections, in turn, can weaken children’s immune systems. A child with a weakened immune response is more likely to come down with a cold or flu.
You can stop this chain reaction before it starts by making the conditions in your home gentler for your children. Invest in a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist during dry winter nights. Running a humidifier near your child’s bed will help them avoid congestion and post-nasal drainage.
Cold weather doesn’t make you sick, but it doesn’t help you resist germs, either. Viruses prefer cold, dry conditions and spread easier during the winter. Likewise, prolonged exposure to cold conditions and dry air can cause weakened immune systems.
Some research suggests that cold air reduces the body’s ability to fight infections. As such, parents should limit their children’s outdoor playtime in the winter months. Make sure your kids take plenty of breaks indoors and stay hydrated. Staying in cold, dry air for extended periods can dehydrate youngsters. As you might expect, dehydrated bodies aren’t good at fighting off diseases!