My daughter has only been back at pre-school for a few days and already she’s coming down with a cold. As I got my darling little four-year old dressed this morning she let out a coughing fit that sounded like she was a trucker who had been up all night hauling freight and smoking a pack of menthol cigarettes! Another tell-tale sign that she was coming down with something was the little red-patch under her nose from where she had wiped with tissues throughout the night.
The common cold is arguably the most common illness in humans. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is one of the most common causes of school absenteeism with up to 22 million school days lost each year in the U.S.
We all know the havoc the common cold can do once it infiltrates a family, it can disrupt a household for weeks with missed school, missed work and many sleepless nights! So I’m now on a mission to make sure that my daughter doesn’t “share the love” of her common cold with her big brother, The Hubs and of course, myself! I realize that it’s impossible and unrealistic to think that I can completely prevent the spread of colds, but there are steps that I can take to reduce my family’s changes of becoming infected and limit the common cold’s damage to our daily life.
Here’s what we do in our household:
- Wash our hands, often. Our pediatrician always tells us that this is probably the single best measure to prevent the spread of colds. I’m constantly telling my kids to wash their hands and to sing the alphabet song to know they’ve washed them long enough! Frequent hand washing destroys viruses that you may have acquired from touching surfaces used by other people. I also carry a hand sanitizer in my purse and have another bottle stowed in the car and whip it out for family squirts when we’re out and about.
- Cover Your Nose and Mouth. I was always told as a child to cover my mouth and nose with my hands when I sneezed or coughed, but it never made sense to me because then I would use my now germ-infested hand to pick up food or shake someone hand. Now kids are taught to use the crook of their elbow or even better, a tissue. A great way to keep germs off your hands and spread to others!
- Use disposable items. Once someone in the house is infected, I break out the disposables. I use disposable paper cups for the kids in the bathroom and in their rooms for overnight water which can be thrown away after each use and prevent accidental spread of the virus from sharing of cups. I also break out the paper towels to clean or wipe up anything and dispose of them in the trash right away instead of using a re-useable cloth towel which can harbor germs.
- Keep household surfaces clean. I will go around the house with a canister of antibacterial disinfectant wipes and wipe down door knobs, drawer pulls, keyboards, light switches, telephones, remote controls, video game controllers, countertops, toys, dining room chairs and anything else that gets touched or handled on a regular basis. The wipes kill any germs or viruses that hang out on these items. If your child has a cold, wash his or her toys as well when you are cleaning household surfaces and commonly used items.
- Use a humidifier. In the colder months the air is dry in homes because the humidity is lower outside and heaters are running inside. We use humidifiers to put moisture in the air of each of our kidlets bedrooms which helps to moisten their nasal passages, loosen secretions and help them breathe a little easier while sleeping. Just be sure to keep your humidifier filled with water and clean it out every other day or so to prevent any growth of mold or mildew.
- Use saline drops/spray. Our pediatrician is also a huge advocate of this preventive measure. Using saline drops or spray is one the most effective ways to treat a cold, child or adult. Saline contains no medication – it’s simply a saltwater solution that helps to moisten nasal passageways, loosen and thin secretions – AKA, get rid of nose junk – so that you can breathe easier. I even use saline spray on the kidlets when they’re not sick, just to keep their nasal passages clear. I like to use Boogie Mist which has a fun and easy Schnozzle (that word just makes me giggle!) to stick up into the nostrill. Each of my kidlets has their own individual spray bottle that I use on them nightly.
- Keep hydrated. Staying hydrated is always super important, but never more so when sick! Drinking the right kinds of fluids such as juice, water or electrolyte-rich drinks AKA Gatorade or Pedialyte will help to cool down fevers, flush out the germs in your system and thin out that yucky mucus.
Now it’s your turn to share. What are your tips to combating cold and germs in your home?
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