Tips to Protect Your Kids This Flu Season
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center want to make sure children are protected from influenza this flu season. The flu is an infection of the nose, throat and lungs caused by a variety of strains of influenza viruses that circulate in communities every year. According to the web site www.preventchildhoodinfluenza.org, influenza claims the lives of about 100 children in the U.S. every year and hospitalizes around 20,000. And influenza is the 8th-leading cause of death in the United States among people of all ages.
Influenza season typically begins in December and peaks in February. Symptoms of the flu include fever, body aches, cough and congestion.
The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated either before or during the season. Cincinnati Children’s doctors and the American Academy of Pediatrics give the following additional tips on how to stop the spread of flu germs:
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue. If you don’t have time to get a tissue, bend your arm and sneeze or cough into it. Teach your children to do the same.
- Use tissues for wiping runny noses and catching sneezes. Throw the tissues in the trash after each use. Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing frequently.
- Avoid kissing your child on or around the mouth or face when either of you are ill.
- Make sure everyone washes their hands before and after coming into close contact with someone with the flu. Everyone should wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds (about as long as one verse of Happy Birthday). You may also use a waterless hand cleaner in addition to hand washing or if soap and water are not available.
- Don’t let children share pacifiers, cups, spoons, forks, washcloths, or towels. Never share toothbrushes.
- Wash dishes, forks, cups and spoons in hot, soapy water or the dishwasher.
- Change cloth towels often and wash them in hot water.
- Wipe all surfaces, including toys, with a disinfectant or soap and hot water. Viruses can live for more than 30 minutes on doorknobs, toilet handles, countertops, and even toys.
- Keep children, particularly infants, away from secondhand tobacco smoke. Children who are exposed to tobacco smoke have an increased risk for respiratory illness.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you know your hands are clean. You may accidently inoculate yourself with germs left behind in the environment.
About Cincinnati Children's
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is one of just eight children's hospitals named to the Honor Roll in U.S. News and World Report's 2010-11 Best Children's Hospitals. It is ranked #1 for digestive disorders and highly ranked for its expertise in pulmonology, cancer, neonatology, heart and heart surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, diabetes and endocrinology, orthopedics, kidney disorders and urology. Cincinnati Children's is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is internationally recognized for quality and transformation work by Leapfrog, The Joint Commission, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and by hospitals and health organizations it works with globally. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org