It’s cold and flu season again, and although your child is less likely to catch a cold or flu while at home during the winter holidays, they may still be exposed to these illnesses while at school or daycare. You could also bring an infection home from your workplace.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot about how to stop the spread of the virus. You can apply these tips to help prevent colds and flu too. Here are a few tips to help protect your child, as well as your child’s friends, from colds and flu.
- Keep hands and your home clean
Just as we have learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping our hands clean is essential to prevent illness. Teach your child to wash their hands often, for at least 30 seconds, with warm water and soap. Make sure that they have a small bottle of hand sanitiser in their school bag too.
Also, keep surfaces in your home clean, especially those you use most often, such as kitchen counters, your bathroom, and the table where you eat.
- Don’t touch your face
Again, just as the pandemic has taught us, teach your child not to touch their face, especially their eyes, nose and mouth, and explain why this is important. As adults, we understand how hard it is for us not to touch our faces, so please be patient with your child as they learn to remember this important habit.
Also, avoid kissing your child on the face. It may be difficult because they’re so cute, but rather kiss them on the back of the head because even three days before you start to have any cold or flu symptoms yourself, you may be contagious.
- Cough or sneeze properly
We’ve learnt that coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow is best. If your child is prone to miss the target, however, as many are, teach them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or, if very necessary, into their shirt, especially if they’re not wearing a mask.
Teach your child to step away, or even walk away, from others who cough or sneeze inappropriately. If this is not possible, teach them to cover their face with a mask or shirt around that person.
- Eat healthily
A healthy diet is always important to boost your child’s immune system. Ensure that your child has a balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and complex carbohydrates.
Children don’t always like veggies, but there are ways to make them more interesting and pleasant, such as stir-frying, roasting, braaiing, or making a delicious soup or stew.
Bestmed Medical Scheme beneficiaries may take advantage of an annual family nutritional assessment at a partner dietitian as part of the Bestmed Tempo wellness programme, which is offered free to all beneficiaries across all plans.
- Drink water
It’s no coincidence that water is essential for all life. Make sure that your child stays hydrated, especially if they do get sick.
It’s recommended that children from 1 to 3 years drink about 4 cups of milk or water per day. Children between 4 and 8 years should drink about 5 cups of water per day, 9 to 12 years old should drink about 7 cups of water, and children 13 years and older should drink 8 to 10 cups per day.
- Stock up on supplements
Vitamins and minerals should never be a substitute for a healthy diet, but it definitely won’t hurt to stock up on natural supplements such as vitamin C, zinc, echinacea and garlic that may help to boost your child’s immune system.
Bestmed beneficiaries on Beat4, Pace1, Pace2, Pace3, Pulse1 and Pulse2 can claim for vitamins and minerals at network pharmacies. The benefit is limited to an annual over-the-counter limit per family.
- Use a saline solution
Saline nasal sprays and rinses, available at your pharmacy, may not only help to cleanse your child’s nasal passages but help to keep the tiny hair-like structures (called cilia) in the nose healthy. The cilia help to trap bacteria and humifies air to the lungs.
- Get a flu shot
A flu vaccination is the best way to lessen you and your child’s risk of getting flu, severe symptoms if they do get sick, and spreading it to others. Infants from six months old and older may be vaccinated against flu. It’s recommended that those who spend time with babies under 6 months old should also be vaccinated to protect them.
Bestmed offers flu vaccines as a preventative care benefit on all plans.
Seek medical advice
If your child does happen to become ill with a cold or flu, it’s best to consult your healthcare practitioner. Also, make sure that your child rests and monitor them for fever and prolonged lethargy, as flu may lead to more severe conditions, such as pneumonia.
Bestmed has a large network of medical practitioners countrywide who are equipped to provide your family with the best possible care.