It is around this time of year when the flu is most prevalent. The flu should not be mistaken for a common cold, although many of the symptoms are very similar. Flu or influenza has more severe symptoms that tend to come on suddenly and often include a high fever and/or the chills (a feeling of hot and then cold) as well as being accompanied by muscle or body aches. In some people, particularly children, vomiting and diarrhoea is also displayed.
So, how can you help your child to avoid this unpleasant condition?
1. Wash hands thoroughly
At Kidz Village, we always encourage children to wash their hands thoroughly, but this is a practice that they must continue at other times. It is essential to use warm water and preferably antibacterial soap. You should carefully work between the fingers and around the nails working down the wrist. The process should take a minimum of 20 seconds with the soap washed off with clean, warm water. Ideally, hands should be dried using an electric hand dryer or paper tissue, not a towel used by others. Alternatively, you could use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet is something that we should all try to do, but it is even more important with children. Foods which are high in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C will help to develop your child’s immune system. Typically these vitamins and minerals come from fresh fruit and vegetables. Often to make this more tempting to children, it is described as “eating the rainbow” as the bright colours are appealing to younger children.
3. Stay well hydrated
We must always stay well hydrated as it will help to ward off all types of sickness and disease. It is particularly important in a hot climate so being aware of how much your child has had to drink is crucial. If your child is experiencing the symptoms of flu, particularly a fever, sickness or diarrhoea, it may be an idea to speak to your doctor or pharmacist about including electrolytes in their drinks.
4. Get a flu vaccination
Of course, one of the best ways to protect your child from influenza is by getting a flu jab. As the strain of flu tends to vary from year to year, the vaccination would need to be done on an annual basis. Your child will NOT develop the flu after getting the vaccination, although they may get a mild fever for around 24-hours which is nothing to be overly concerned about. It should be stressed that side effects are mild and far less severe than contracting the illness itself.
5. Sneeze or cough into a tissue and dispose of it
All parents must consider the wellbeing of other children so they should teach their child the importance of coughing or sneezing into a tissue. The tissue should be disposed of afterwards, and a fresh one used is necessary. Covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing is one of the best methods of slowing the spread of the virus.
6. Avoid touching your face
Children will always touch and play with anything that they can get their hands on! Even with the frequent, thorough washing of their hands, it is still possible for viruses and bacteria to be prevalent. It is therefore essential that they avoid touching their face, particularly the mouth, nose and eyes to reduce the chances of contracting the virus. It is something that should not be seen as a substitute for washing hands thoroughly.
7. Avoid high-risk places
If the infection does reach dangerous levels, you should then exercise caution when visiting sites which could be perceived as “high-risk”. In Bangkok, this could be places such as the Skytrain, MRT or other confined spaces. It is impossible to eliminate all risk but reducing your levels of exposure in areas where there is likely to be crowds of people will undoubtedly help.
8. Keep off school if displaying the symptoms
Protecting others children and reducing the spread of the virus is your responsibility as a parent. While this isn’t always possible as the symptoms can develop suddenly throughout the day if your child is displaying signs, you should keep them off school to prevent further transmission. We appreciate that this may be inconvenient, but it is beneficial for everyone in the longer term. Obviously, the school should be informed of your decision, so they are aware of the situation and can assess how many kids are affected.
9. See a doctor if your child develops symptoms
If your child is displaying symptoms, you should consult with your doctor or pharmacist. They will be able to make suggestions regarding how you can help to alleviate the discomfort and make everything more bearable. If your child is suffering from sickness and diarrhoea, they may need to be put onto a saline drip for a few hours to keep them hydrated. It is rare for children to need to be admitted to hospital with influenza.
10. Treat with antiviral medication NOT antibiotics
The flu is a virus and therefore will be unresponsive to antibiotics and indeed, taking them may leave your child resistant to some bacterial infections in the future. Your pharmacist will be able to recommend medications that are appropriate children and what dosage they should be given depending on their age. You must follow the advice of the pharmacist or the instructions on included with the medication. Some adult formulas may be harmful to children.
Did you find our article interesting?
We hope that you found this article informative and that it highlighted something of the things that you can do to protect your child from the flu. Here at Kidz Village, our acclaimed International School in Bangkok strives to provide the ideal environment to promote learning. For more information, please call us on +66 2888 3337 and we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.