Help your child stay healthy during the winter
Authored by: Dr. Joshua Richey, pediatrician, Riley Children’s Health at IU Health North Hospital
When the temperature goes down, people tend to become more susceptible to sickness and cold weather germs. We want our kiddos to stay healthy year-round, and while we can’t guarantee they won’t get sick, there are several preventative steps parents can take to help children stay healthy during the winter months.
Your care team can help.
When your kids need routine primary care—for sniffles, sports physicals, and everything in between – it’s important to have an established relationship with a pediatrician. There are a recommended schedule of appointments to keep an eye on your child’s growth and development. Since children grow so quickly, it is important that you schedule these visits so your child’s doctor can catch and treat any health problems early. If your child is sick, pediatricians provide quick care to help them feel better. We diagnose conditions and give your child the necessary medications or other treatments. We also help you stay on track with your child’s vaccination schedule and can help you understand which vaccines your child needs and when. Flu shots are essential to get each year as children often have more severe flu-related problems, such as a higher risk of pneumonia, than adults.
Learn about flu shots.
The flu shot is still the most effective way to avoid the flu, and the flu vaccine can be given beginning at six months old. Influenza is highly contagious. It is carried in the air and by direct contact. Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, sore throat, cough and extreme fatigue. A complication of flu is pneumonia. Studies show that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness by between 50 percent and 60 percent among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are like the vaccine viruses.
Help protect your child’s immune system, avoid germs.
Millions of families every year travel home or abroad for the wintertime, and we all want to do our best to keep our children healthy over the holidays. While we can’t avoid all germs, there are some general prevention steps we can take. Make sure your child is properly dressed for the temperature outside. Keep hand sanitizer in your car and diaper bag and make a habit to use it each time you enter your car. Disinfect “high touch” surfaces, such as car door handles or toys, and make sure everyone in your family washes their hands after going to the bathroom or coughing and before eating.
For more information or to schedule a well-child visit, go to RileyatNorth.org.