Protecting Our Family From Viruses Picked up at School

Mark Pyle, D.O. is a pediatrician at Banner Health Center located at Verrado. For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or call (480) 412-KIDS.

Question: My kids are always picking up viruses from their schoolmates and our whole family gets sick. Are there steps we can take to keep our family healthy?

Answer: Schools and other public places are full of germs, especially during cold and flu season. One of those most important steps you can take to protect your family from illness is to get annual flu shots.

Since there is no vaccine for the common cold, when a family member gets a cold or other minor virus, he or she should not return to work or school until the symptoms have subsided and any fever has disappeared. While this person is sick, he or she is likely contagious, so others should avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging or touching. 

Keep viruses from spreading by practicing certain habits like sneezing or coughing into an elbow, and avoiding contact with your own eyes, nose and mouth. Wash hands often, especially after blowing your nose or coughing, and throw away used tissues immediately. To properly wash hands, use warm water and soap, scrub both hands for at least 20 seconds, and dry with a single-use towel.

In your home, your family comes into contact with dozens of surfaces every day, including countertops, telephones, computer keyboards, faucets and doorknobs. Viruses can survive on these surfaces for several hours, so use disinfectant wipes or sprays to eliminate the offending germs.

Finally, build up your immune system by eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, getting adequate rest, and exercising regularly to reduce stress. While these steps may not prevent every virus, they will give you and your family a fighting chance at staying healthy.

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