As parents, what are some winter health tips for cold and flu season, and the winter months in general, to help ensure a safe season?
When it comes to winter health, there are some tips that can help the winter go a bit easier for almost all parents and children. These include:
- Getting a yearly flu shot.
- Teaching good hand washing techniques.
- Minimizing or avoiding infections by not taking your newborn or younger infant out and around a lot of other people until he/she is older.
- Encouraging kids to avoid people who are obviously sick with a cold or the flu.
- Teaching your kids ‘cough etiquette,’ which the American Academy of Pediatrics describes as teaching children to turn their heads and cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or the inside of their elbow if they don’t have a tissue, instead of simply coughing or sneezing onto their hands, which will then spread their germs onto everything they touch.
- Taking a reusable water bottle to school, instead of using the school water fountain, which may become contaminated with germs, especially during cold and flu season.
Unfortunately, washing your hands and getting a flu shot won’t help you avoid other health problems that can be triggered by winter weather, such as:
Asthma: Changes in the weather and cold weather often trigger asthma attacks, which makes it important to have refills of your asthma relief medicines ready for the winter and an asthma management plan in case your child starts coughing or having other symptoms of an asthma attack.
Chronic Coughing: Although many kids have a cough during cold and flu season when they get sick, if your child typically develops a chronic cough that lasts most of the winter, then ask your pediatrician if he might have asthma.
Dry Skin: Lack of humidity from cold, dry air outside and the warm, dry air inside often leads kids to have itchy, dry skin during the winter. This can especially be a problem on a child’s hands, which is made worse by frequent hand washing, and around his mouth (perioral dermatitis).
Eczema: Kids with eczema often have red, itchy skin year round, but it can be worse in the winter. Talk to our pediatrician if your usual eczema regimen isn’t working during the winter for advice on treating hard to control eczema.
Nosebleeds: When caused by dry air, nosebleeds can be prevented by moisturizing your child’s nose with saline or a nasal gel each day. Keep in mind that kids can also get nosebleeds when they have colds, sinus infections, or allergies.
Try to keep your kids physically active during the winter. Although it is often too cold for outdoor sports, unless you live in an area where you can play ice hockey or regularly go snowboarding, many kids stay active in the winter by taking up an indoor sport, such as basketball, indoor soccer, indoor flag football, or volleyball.