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Tips to Keep your Family Healthy during Cold and Flu Season

In the height of the 2016-17 cold and influenza season, we are all doing our best to avoid becoming ill. Illnesses lead to less energy, feeling awful and potential health complications. There are many ways we can keep ourselves and children healthy and prevent the spread of germs. Healthy living strategies your family can adopt include, but are not limited to:

  • Have your child eat a balanced diet with fruits, whole grains, vegetables and foods that have low saturated fats and moderate amounts of sugar and total fat.
  • Keep your kids home from school, preschool or daycare when ill. Check their sick policy. If your children have a fever over 100.1, nausea/vomiting or diarrhea within the past 24 hours they should refrain from participating in school, preschool or daycare until they are symptom free for over 24 hours.
  • Get your kids vaccinated and keep up-to-date with the yearly influenza vaccine. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) reports that influenza vaccines are 50-60% effective and can reduce the severity and potential side effects if you do become ill.
  • Have your kids wash their hands frequently with warm water and soap. This is the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs/infection(s) that can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses. Get your kids in the habit of scrubbing their hands for 15-20 seconds, even if it is with the use of hand sanitizer when they leave school, preschool, or daycare, as well as after every playdate, before they eat, and after each use of the bathroom.
  • Ensure your children are getting adequate sleep. Children need more sleep than the average adult.

Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range is 14-17 hours each day

Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range is 12-15 hours each day

Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range is 11-14 hours each day

Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range is 10-13 hours each day

School age children (6-13): Sleep range is 9-11 hours each day

Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range is 8-10 hours each day

  • Have your child take a multivitamin daily. Look for ones that have the daily recommended amounts of Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, and D in addition to the minerals chromium, copper, calcium, folic acid, selenium and zinc.
  • Take a probiotic daily to promote immunity and “good gut bacteria” which can also help your child’s digestive system and other concerns such as constipation issues. When selecting a probiotic, look for Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Lactobacillus may be the most common probiotic. It’s the one you’ll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. Bifidobacterium can also be found in some dairy products.
  • If nasal congestion occurs in your child, there are home remedies you can try to help alleviate their symptoms. Try a cool mist humidifier in their room during naps and at bedtime. Saline nasal spray may be used in children to help thin and clear nasal mucous and nasal congestion.

Keeping kids healthy can seem like an impossible task, but incorporating these tips into your lifestyle can make a difference in the long-run.


Written by Kelsey Kuylen


Kelsey Kuylen, FNP, is a Family Nurse Practitioner at CHI St. Alexius Health Dickinson's medical clinic. A native of Dickinson, Kelsey provides care in walk-in and family practice.

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