Being sick isn’t something on a mom’s agenda, but it still happens. With the weather unsure what it wants to do right now, the best thing you can do is try your best to prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place.
With that being said, your first and best defense is always washing your hands. I know your mother always told you to wash your hands, but she had it right. Not only does it get the visible dirt off, but it is still the best way to relieve your skin, your best and biggest defender, of those pesky little unseen germs that will make you sick.
Of course, if you have little ones, you will want to read on. Washing your hands is imperative to keeping them healthy too and they are usually the culprits of the germ factory. Once they are touching things and exploring their worlds, teaching them to wash their hands is so important, too! Even using hand sanitizer is acceptable when there is no visible dirt, but there are times when that just doesn’t cut it. An example of when not to use hand sanitizer is after going to the bathroom! Ewww! Feces is just something that can carry some bacteria you don’t want to mess around with and certainly aren’t susceptible to our fabulous alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Good old soap and water for that one is the only way to go.
The other important thing to remember about washing your hands is that you need to wash them in soap and water for at least 15 seconds. That means scrubbing them. No, you don’t have to prepare them for going into surgery. Just teach your kids to sing either their ABC’s or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. That will help them know that they have washed them long enough to get them good and clean. Believe it or not, even my 8 year old son always washes his hands. He may not want to brush his teeth or take a shower sometimes, but at least he has clean hands!
The reason I’m telling you all these things is because there is a very wretched respiratory virus that is very near and dear to my heart. It’s called RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus. It’s a virus that for you and me is just the common cold, but for little ones, especially under the age of 2, can land them in the hospital pediatric intensive care unit and at times on a ventilator, a machine that breathes for them. There is no cure for it, since a virus, but there are medications to treat the symptoms. Premmature babies, babies with congenital heart and lung defects are more likely to complications from this. The symptoms can range from a common cold to pneumonia and respiratory arrest. The changes happen very quickly.
This virus is everywhere and depending on where you live in the country, your season for RSV is different. The RSV season usually coincides with the Influenza season. The difference is that there is no magic prevention. For those kids that are at highest risk, they may qualify for Synagis injections for the season, but the qualifications are strict and seem to be getting stricter each year. With that being said, I’m sure the hospitalizations for RSV cases is going up. Synagis is an immunoglobulin therapy which boosts the childs immune system, but doesn’t prevent RSV altogether, however, if they do get it, the virulence of it will be lessened.
That’s where handwashing comes into play. The virus, like I said before lives everywhere. You may be at the grocery store, pick up a can of soup and be the 4th person who has touched that same can. The first person had a cold caused by the RSV virus. If it was in the last 6 hours, you may get that cold. Think of how easily you can spread that virus to your little one! Yes, 6 hours and that virus is still active. That’s how long it lasts. If you touch your little one’s face after touching that can of soup or they hold your hand…
So, please, be careful not only to keep your home clean, doorknobs wiped down with Lysol, etc. Please, please, wash your hands and teach your kids to do the same. If they do have colds, make sure they use their tissues and hand sanitizer to keep their hands clean. Keeping those germs from others is a war we fight every day. Let’s do our best to teach our kids the first line of defense. It’s a lesson that will last a lifetime.