Showing posts with label H1N1 (Swine Flu). Show all posts
Showing posts with label H1N1 (Swine Flu). Show all posts

Oct 25, 2009

H1N1 Prevention: Vitamin D & Keeping Hands out of Mouths

This cold and flu season, you might be especially concerned about keeping your children healthy. There are many ways to do this, as I've written about previously. In addition, it's a great idea to make sure your children are getting enough vitamin D. These days, we sometimes don't get enough sunlight (either because we're inside a lot or because we're always wearing sunscreen) to generate our own vitamin D, so supplementing is recommended. Canada is considering adding vitamin D to the H1N1 regimen, and some medical experts believe children who are dying of the swine flu may have vitamin D deficiencies.

But aside from supplementing with vitamin D, one of the more important things you can do is teach your children to keep their hands out of the mouths, noses, and eyes.

This can be exceedingly difficult with some children. Babies actually need to explore things with their mouths, and many toddlers and preschoolers still seem to have this habit. (My preschooler is certainly one of them!)

Therefore, it's important to sit down with your child and discuss germs and how they are transmitted. Keep it simple: "Germs are all around us. We can't see them except through a microscope, but they are still there and they can make us very, very sick. That's why it's important to wash our hands a lot and not put our fingers or hands in our mouth, nose, or eyes."

While reminders are going to be necessary, nagging rarely works. Therefore, cement the concept by reading books about germs. I read Germs, Germs, Germs with my daughter; you might also try Germs Make Me Sick or Germs Are Not For Sharing.

You can also demonstrate germs to your child with some flour. Place white flour in a bowl and allow your child to play with it a little, until her hands are coated. Now allow your child to play with a washable toy. After a few minutes, show your child the flour on his toy. Show him that when you pick up the toy with your own clean hands, you get flour on them. Then say something like, "The flour is a lot like germs. Every time you touch something, germs get on it. And if you touch something that has germs on it, the germs get on your hands." Finally, have your child go to the sink and wash his hands thoroughly. (Soap them up and scrub every part of them while singing "Happy Birthday" or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Then thoroughly wash the soap away with warm water.)

You can also try painting your child's nails with a clear thumb-sucking preventative, like Mavala. This won't prevent your child from putting her fingers in her nose or eyes, but it's a step in the right direction. You can also paint your girl's nails with a pretty nail polish. She'll quickly learn the polish gets ruined if she sucks her fingers or chews on her nails.

Another idea is to buy a book of tiny round stickers (available in the art or office supply section of most general stores, including Wal-Mart or The Dollar Tree). Allow your child to choose the stickers she wants, then place them on your child's fingernails. They will fall off if she puts her fingers in her mouth or nose.

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Oct 14, 2009

Keep Your Family Healthy this Winter

The cold and flu season is here, and with the additional threat of swine flu (H1N1), have you considered how you'll attempt to keep your family healthy this winter?

Admittedly, my family is more germ-aware than some others because our oldest, who was born 3 1/2 months premature, has somewhat delicate health. But even if you don't have these sorts of concerns, taking a few steps to ensure your family's health can pay off in a big way.

Here are a few things we've found make a tremendous difference in our family's health:

* Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer by the front and back doors. Also keep a small bottle in your purse or diaper bag and in the car's glove compartment. When a sick neighbor is visiting, or you walk through a store full of sneezing people, use the hand sanitizer liberally. According to the Mayo Clinic, hand sanitizer is more effective than soap and water, but be sure to keep it out of reach of small children (who might consume the sanitizer and suffer from alcohol poisoning). Incidentally, because my hands dry out easily, I buy sanitizer that includes aloe in its ingredients; it really saves my skin.

* Keep antibacterial wipes (like Wet Ones) in the glove compartment. I prefer the type in a plastic tub because I find they are less likely to dry out before I use them. We use these primarily for wiping down any part of shopping carts my children or I will touch.

* In your war against germs, however, don't use other antibacterial soaps or cleaners. Scientists say the regular use of antibacterial soaps may lead to bacteria that are more resistant.

* Learn to properly hand wash. Get your hands wet. Soap up. Scrub every part of your hands for at least 20 seconds. Rinse thoroughly and dry. Teach small children to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" or "Happy Birthday" while they scrub; otherwise, they may not wash long enough.

* Make sure your family washes their hands before eating. Try to teach children to keep their hands out of their mouths and away from their eyes and noses. (For tips on accomplishing this, click here.)

* By now most of us know the new way to sneeze or cough is into your elbow, not your hand. As a mom, I have mixed feelings about this. If I sneeze into my elbow, then pick up one of my children, they are likely to get a face full of germs. Therefore, my personal choice is to sneeze into my hand - as long as I know I can wash them immediately after sneezing. Otherwise, I sneeze into my elbow. (By the way, the photo accompanying this post is from the CDC and shows just how germ-spreading sneezes can be...)

* Know where the germiest places are: Playgrounds, shopping carts, bathrooms, ATM buttons, your purse, doorknobs, health center exercise machines, etc.

* Avoid indoor playgroups. Even in the rain or snow, kids prefer to play outside, anyway.

* Make a strict rule about no sick kids at playgroup, daycare, Sunday school class, or other kid-events. Don't be afraid to walk out if a sick child is present.

* Know the symptoms of swine flu and don't be afraid to take your child or yourself to the doctor if you have the symptoms. If you are sick, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strongly advise you to stay home, except to see the doctor.

* Clean doorknobs, sink knobs, the phone, and other high-germ areas in your home frequently.

* Wash your hands periodically throughout the day.

* Keep favorite cold and flu remedies handy. In our house, we like Alka Seltzer Cold Remedy, saline solution (for stuffy noses), Tylenol, Aspirin, and Zicam Oral Mist Cold Remedy. We use the Zicam at the first hint of a cold, and think it prevents colds from getting worse. In our opinion, the oral mist version works best.

* Expect some people to think you're strange for making efforts to stay away from germs. Most people have a laissez faire attitude about getting sick, but when you have kids, sick time equals less school time, less family fun time, and more work for mom. And this year, more caution than usual is endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In the end, it doesn't matter what other people think. Do what you need to do to protect your family.


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