As kids start settling into school and the cooler months of fall get underway, so does cold and flu season. The cold and flu season can begin as early as October last until April.

Colds and flus are caused by viruses. Usually, you need to come into direct contact with secretions in order to catch a cold.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 20,000 children under five years of age are hospitalized because of flu-related complications every year.

Following are some tips to keep your child as healthy as possible and prevent them from developing complications this season.

Make sure that your child gets their seasonal influenza vaccine each year, as recommended by their pediatrician. Although the vaccine cannot completely prevent the flu, it can weaken its symptoms.

Keep your child’s immune system strong by making sure that they get plenty of sleep for their age group (from 8 to 13 hours) every night, adequate physical activity and that they eat the right foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein and good carbohydrates.

Regular hand washing with hot soapy water, especially before and after meals and after using the restroom, is a vital part of preventing colds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Germs from coughs and sneezes can spread up to six feet, teach your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue and wash their hands, or to sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

In order to avoid spreading germs, teach your kids to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose, or mouth.

If your child gets a cold, make sure that they get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids in order to stay well-hydrated.

If your child does get sick, keep them from school until they feel better. Avoid sharing the same items, such as utensils, food, drinks and toys at home. Avoid larger crowds, such as the mall or theater and close contact with other people who may be sick.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched areas around the home, such as doorknobs, telephones, TV remotes, computers and toys by using hot soapy water or a disinfectant that removes influenza.
The symptoms of the flu can include chills and shakes, a high fever of up to 104, body aches, vomiting and a sore throat.

Contact your child’s pediatrician if your child’s fever persists after 3-4 days, if they have trouble breathing, or if their symptoms get worst. Complications from the flu can include a sinus or ear infection, or pneumonia.

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