Hygiene and Sanitary Habits for Sick Prevention

The cold and flu season is here and cases of other respiratory illnesses like the common cold, RSV, and COVID-19 tend to increase around this time of year. Holiday gatherings, travel, weather changes, and spending more time indoors make the risk of contracting an infection even higher. That is why it’s essential to practice good hygiene and sanitary habits to reduce the spread of germs.

Encourage everyone in your family to regularly wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. 20 seconds might seem like a short time, but it is longer than most people realize! To ensure that younger children are washing their hands well, supervise them and guide them on how to be thorough. You can even play 20 seconds of music so that they get a feel of how long the time is. Teach them to clean every surface of their hands with soap and in between their fingers. They should also learn how to rinse their hands completely. 

While many stores sell antibacterial soaps, we recommend sticking to ordinary soap. Antibacterial soap is not more effective and can in fact kill off good bacteria and cause resistant bacteria to grow. When handwashing is not an option, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a good alternative to getting rid of germs. Never allow younger children to use hand sanitizers alone. Accidental swallowing can cause poisoning and some children might inadvertently squirt the sanitizer into their eyes or mouth. You can also use hand wipes as another option. Any guest visiting should also wash their hands before interacting with your children. Children are more vulnerable to becoming sick as their immune system is still developing. 

One of the most common ways that respiratory viruses spread is through airborne transmission. A good habit for your family to adopt is to always cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing to decrease secretions going into the air. Advise your children to sneeze or cough into their sleeve/elbow or tissue instead of using their hands, since they can spread germs when touching objects or other people. Tissues should be thrown away immediately after use. 

Making an effort to prioritize housecleaning is also important for killing germs and preventing illness. Items brought inside the household that are infected can spread the virus onto anything they touch. And viruses can survive on objects and surfaces for several hours to even a few days. You’ll want to make sure to regularly disinfect surfaces with warm water and cleaning sprays or wipes. If any member in the household is sick, it’s important that the bathroom is disinfected after they use it to prevent them from spreading illness. Keep cleaning solutions away from young children as their chemicals can be hazardous. Store the products in places that your children cannot access and always follow the warning labels on them. 

Aside from objects and surfaces, be aware that some food can be contaminated with bacteria and germs. Raw vegetables and fruits should be washed thoroughly before consuming. Meat should be fully cooked as well. Never buy packaged food that isn’t sealed properly. 

All of these cleaning and hygiene habits are good to practice all year round and are important for everyday health. But during sick season, it’s especially prudent to be extra mindful of germ prevention!

Diabetes in Children

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that causes problems with the body’s ability to convert food into fuel for the body. It is diagnosed by a blood test that checks the glucose levels, as well as by checking ketones in the urine. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is when the body does not produce enough insulin to move the sugar in the bloodstream into the cells to use for energy. As a result, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. Type 2 is when the pancreas makes less insulin than it used to and the body becomes resistant to the hormone. Therefore, the cells do not use glucose which then builds up in the blood. When diabetes is left unmanaged, the high glucose levels in the blood can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and nervous system over many years.

Most children with diabetes have Type 1, which can be caused by an autoimmune reaction where the immune system attacks its beta cells, leading to the inability to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is less common among children, though in recent years, the rate has gone up with the increase in childhood obesity. Obesity and unhealthy diets are risk factors and Type 2 diabetes can be prevented by following good health habits. 

Symptoms of diabetes include increased hunger and thirst, fatigue, irritability, blurry vision, darkened areas of the skin, increased urination, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, dry skin, and weight loss. If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, it’s important that you call our office to talk to our pediatrician. Your child may need to take a glucose test to see if they have the condition. If they are diagnosed, there are several treatments to control the disease so that your child can continue to lead a normal life. 

To help keep the blood sugar in the normal range, it’s important to monitor the glucose levels on a regular schedule. Insulin as a shot or oral medicine may be prescribed to your child to control their blood sugar. Children should take these as instructed. Taking too much insulin can cause hypoglycemia (which is when the blood sugar is too low) and not taking enough can cause the blood sugar to remain high.   

Children should also follow a well-balanced and healthy diet and doing so can lower the risk of diabetes. If your child has diabetes, you can talk to our pediatrician about creating a meal plan to help manage their condition. Generally, though, kids should eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, high-fiber food, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats like nuts and avocados. Foods with saturated fat, added sugar, and refined carbohydrates should be kept to a minimum. It’s also essential to avoid sugary beverages like juice and soda. Instead, kids should drink plain water or milk. We recommend paying close attention to nutrition food labels to check serving sizes and what the products contain, as well as their daily percentage values. For more information about how to follow nutrition food labels, check out this resource here. 

In addition to following a healthy diet, children should regularly exercise and get at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Exercising lowers blood sugar and helps manage weight. To encourage your child to get adequate exercise, engage them in physical activities that they find fun, such as sports, swimming, bike riding, or dance.  

If you have any questions or concerns about managing your child’s diabetes, call our office. We are here to provide treatment information and resources for your family.

Storm Preparation for Your Family

It’s hurricane season, and we know there’s been severe weather, floods, and storms lately. We want to share preparation tips so that you can keep your family safe. It’s always important to know what to do before, during, and after a storm and to have an emergency plan in place.

To prepare your family for disasters, stay up to date with the news and know your reliable sources where you can get weather updates. When a storm is coming, signing up for alerts can help with getting the latest information and warnings. Keep your family informed and talk to your children about the precautions that they should take. While it’s sometimes difficult to predict the outcomes of a storm, it’s good to be aware of the potential risks and have the necessary supplies should they be needed. That includes getting flash lights in case you lose power, batteries, portable phone chargers, a first aid kit, and plenty of food, water, and essentials in case you can’t go to the store for days. As you might not be able to heat food without power, it’s best to stock up on non-perishable food that doesn’t require cooking. For water, make sure you have about one gallon per person per day. Create a supplies list so that you don’t forget any item that you might need.

Before a storm hits, write down phone numbers of places you might need to contact within your local community, such as the doctor’s office. If Wi-Fi is lost during a storm, you may not be able to access the Internet to look up contact information. If evacuation becomes necessary or you’re at risk of losing basic utilities for a long period, plan where your family will go ahead of time. Know what you will need to pack for you and your kids.

Follow any warnings about flash floods and avoid driving when possible. Floods can be highly dangerous and wash cars away. If you are ever in a vehicle and it stalls, leave immediately and find higher ground. Rising water can engulf the entire car and everyone inside. Keep your kids away from flood water and do not allow them to walk through it.

If your area has been affected by floods, keep in mind that even the aftermath can be hazardous. Electrical dangers, mold, and contamination are some of the common things that occur after a flood. Children and teens should be kept away from flash flood recovery and clean up. They should only return to a home or area after it has been cleaned and disinfected. Double check your water supply before allowing your family to drink it.

To protect your home during a storm, board up windows and glass sliding doors. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed and have working batteries. To help stay warm during winter storms, insulate your walls and have enough blankets and sweaters for your family. If you are out of a heat for an extended period and you don’t have a generator or a fireplace, move your family to another home or alternative shelter with heat. Extreme cold can cause hypothermia. Do not use the gas stove as it can produce carbon monoxide. Generators should also be away from windows or any air intakes.

It’s common for children to feel anxious and scared before and during storms. We recommend limiting their media exposure and instead, explain to them with enough information for them to understand but not feel alarmed. Reassure them that by taking the necessary steps for preparation, they can remain safe.

For further resources, we recommend bookmarking the below links.

National Weather Service


Family Disaster Supplies List from the AAP