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5 Tips to Help Your Children Avoid Cold & Flu – Even When You Are Not There

It’s a well-known fact that children do not have the best hygiene. Parents, how many times have you had to remind your child to wash their hands after using the restroom or before eating dinner? For me, that number is in the gazillions and my oldest is only eight.

I’m also quite certain that healthy hand hygiene practices, which go a really long way to prevent the spread of germs, are not observed when I am not around. So, I sought out Sara Dantism, a fourth year Campbell University Pharmacy student, to see if we could brainstorm some solutions to help keep those nasty cold and flu germs at bay.

Here’s what we came up with:

1.  Parents – this one is really your responsibility – make sure your children’s vaccinations are up to date, including flu shots.
2. Have your child watch these fun videos to show them the basics of handwashing, staying healthy and proper sneeze and cough etiquette.

3. Send a reminder note in your child’s lunch box every now and then reminding them to wash their hands before eating lunch and consider packing a mini hand sanitizer or a wet nap in their lunchbox
4. Have your children wash their hands immediately when they come home from school.
5. Encourage them not to reuse tissues. If they have to blow or wipe their nose, they need to use a clean tissue each time. Stocking them with mini tissue packs in their backpack promotes this healthy habit.

Even with the right education and the right tools, children still seem bound and determined to contract at least one viral illness each season that probably could have been prevented. When this occurs, your community pharmacist is a great resource on how to treat symptoms of the common cold.

  • Headache –– Tylenol® (acetaminophen) – comes in children’s syrup flavored and chewable tablets
  • Stuffy nose – saline nasal spray during the day, warm showers or baths in the evening and a humidifier at night can help to clear out those sinuses. Just make sure to clean that humidifier regularly.
  • Draining nose – Benedryl® (antihistamine) – comes in liquid and tablets specially made for children
  • Scratchy throat – cough drops or lozenges – warn children that although some of these products may taste good, don’t take a lot because it is still medicine – maximum of one every two hours is a good rule of thumb

If your child has a fever, it is probably not a cold and you may need to see a physician to rule out strep throat or another illness where you cannot just rely on over-the-counter medications. Also, make sure to read the product’s label carefully to make sure you are not double dosing – especially if you are giving your child a medicine like Tylenol Cold & Flu which includes a combination of many medications. Additionally, if your child has asthma or another underlying health condition, it is very important to check with your doctor before administering any medications.

Parents, we’d also love to hear your ideas on increasing handwashing compliance. If something has worked well for you, please share.

Here’s to a staying well!