High risk of infection
When young children start attending crèche, playgroup or nursery, most parents will find themselves having to cope with an endless cycle of minor ailments. Stomach bugs, coughs, colds, the flu – as soon as one child catches the disease, it spreads like wildfire. Up to 12 infections a year are perfectly normal; this helps children to build up their immune system. However, when a child is sick there is a high risk of infection for the rest of the family. In most cases, kids brings home infectious agents that the parents' immune system is not (or no longer) familiar with. If the parents are also stressed or deprived of sleep, the risk of their becoming infected is even higher.
The following tips help minimise the risk of infection:
- Rule number one: wash your hands! Regularly washing your hands with soap is the best and most effective weapon against cold viruses. Because in everyday life, it's practically impossible to avoid touching things that other members of the family who are sick may have touched.
- Cough and sneeze into a paper tissue and not into your hands. Ideally, you should only use the tissue once and dispose of it immediately.
- Avoid direct physical contact, like shaking hands or hugging, wherever possible.
- Children should sleep in their own room / bed for hygiene reasons.
- Frequent airing for short periods not only lowers the concentration of viruses, but also minimises the dry air in the room.
- Because viruses can also spread via things people share such as doorknobs, taps and toilet seats, it makes sense to wipe these down regularly.
- Always wash your hands before sitting down together for a meal: viruses like to spread via things people share, like bottles, packs of butter, the bread basket, etc.
- Linen, cutlery and crockery should be washed at 60-90°C. The high temperatures and detergent kill off the viruses.
- Sick children often wake up through the night and need comforting. Nevertheless, it's important for parents to get plenty of sleep. Going to bed early or taking turns to look after the child can help.
How viruses spread
Even the strictest hygiene practices are not enough to completely banish germs from our lives.
Viruses are transmitted as follows:
- Droplet infection: via droplets in the air, i.e. through coughing, sneezing or talking
- Contact infection: through direct contact with the sick person. Sick people remain contagious for seven to ten days.
- Smear infection: objects used by patients may carry viruses, e.g. cups, tubes of toothpaste, etc.
Whatever the case, our immune system is always kept busy.