Six strategies to keep kids from sharing germs
We teach our kids to share, but when it comes to
colds - kids can keep their coughs and sneezes all to
Despite a parent's best efforts, most children will
have six to 10 colds a year. And, they'll most likely
catch their colds from other children, especially older
siblings. While this sibling cross-contamination can be
exasperating for parents, catching a cold is not always
a bad thing.
"Whether children come in contact with viruses
from an older sibling, at daycare or kindergarten -
they will be exposed to viral infections," says Eric
Glasofer, MD, Virtua allergist and immunologist.
"It's part of growing up."
As long as your child is otherwise healthy, exposure
to common viruses and bacteria helps build the
immune system. When the body fights an infection,
it produces antibodies that make it less susceptible to
illnesses. But, you can keep colds at a minimum this
season by following these tips:
Hand washing is the best way to reduce the spread
of viruses. Wash your hands often and teach children
to wash their hands properly especially before meals
and after school.
Cover your mouth
When you feel a sneeze or cough coming on,
cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or show
children how to use the inside of their elbow instead
of their hands.
Don't touch your face
Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the
eyes, nose or mouth. Encourage children to keep
their hands away from their faces as well as other
Change hand towels often or have separate towels for
each family member. When your child is sick, use
paper towels to prevent the spread of viruses.
When a family member is sick, clean household
surfaces and wash commonly used items especially
toys. Viruses can live on surfaces for hours.
Proceed with caution
Colds and viruses may be an inevitable part of
childhood, but they should not be ignored. Consult
with the pediatrician about your child's symptoms
and appropriate treatment. Be sure to keep your
doctor informed if symptoms change.
"Children under age 6 are more likely to develop
wheezing when they have a cold," according to
Dr. Glasofer. "Young children have smaller airways
which can become obstructed by inflammation or
mucus." Call the doctor if your child starts wheezing,
has difficulty breathing or begins breathing rapidly.
Avoid exposing newborns to sick family members.
An illness such as RSV is common in children and
adults, but can be very dangerous to infants. RSV is
highly contagious. Symptoms are similar to a bad
cold and may include wheezing.