How to Help Minimise the Spread of Colds

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Colds are the bane of many people’s lives, whether you are a child or parent. Sadly there’s no escaping them, and as the nights draw in and temperatures drop, they become more and more common. Although it’s very tricky to completely avoid catching a cold, there are some easy things you can build into your daily routine to help minimise the number of colds.

Colds are viruses and there are many different types of virus. This means that there’s no cure or complete treatment because there are so many different strains. Effectively, every time you get a cold it’s likely to be a different virus. When you have a cold you are infectious to other people until all of your symptoms have disappeared, which could take up to a fortnight. Your cold germs can survive on surfaces and your hands for 24 hours, which is one of the reasons that colds spread so easily.

[Read more: Baby's Health - When to Consult a Doctor]

When your child has a cold, it can be very easy for them to spread their germs around, especially if they have siblings or attend a childcare setting. It’s not practical to keep them wrapped up inside all winter so you’ll need to mitigate the germs as much as possible.

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From an early age encourage your child to have good hygiene habits, including washing their hands with water and soap and covering their mouth when they sneeze or cough. Although blowing their own nose is a tricky skill to master, get your child used to you wiping their nose with a tissue. It can be very tempting for children to let their nose run or use their arm or sleeve to wipe it off, but this can cause germs to spread quickly.

If your child is suffering from a cold, try to isolate any household items that they’ve come into contact with and not share them with other family members. This is things like cups, bowls, cutlery, towels etc. You’ll never be able to catch everything though, so you don’t need to go overboard with the anti-bac spray.

Whilst we’re talking about cleaning, a small word of warning. Many parents do like to keep their houses and possessions (and children) spotless and sparkling clean, but this can have its downsides. The use of chemicals and products, as well as a lack of germs, could actually have a negative effect on your child because they are not building their natural immunity. Whilst it can be quite scary and upsetting when your child is ill, especially at a young age, it’s one of those things that you do get used to and it gets better the older they get. You can help boost your child’s immune system with a healthy diet and supplements containing Vitamins A, C and D (from six months)

The majority of children aged from two years are eligible for the nasal spray flu vaccination. It’s a single spray in one nostril and the only usual side effect is a slight runny nose. It’s available from your local surgery or at school from Reception age onwards. The flu vaccine does not offer any protection against catching colds.

[Read more: Why I Think You're Wrong if You Don't Immunise Your Kids]

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