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610 WTVN: Keeping kids healthy during back-to-school season

Summer break has ended and children have left the house for their classrooms. Unfortunately, the start of back-to-school season also means cold and flu season is just around the corner.

Joe Gastaldo, MD, an infectious disease specialist at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, offers some quick tips on how to keep your kids and yourself healthy throughout the coming months.

One of the easiest and most important ways to prevent illness is demonstrating proper hand hygiene. Making sure kids are washing their hands throughout the day and after they use the restroom is essential to staying healthy.

“Many respiratory viruses, like influenza, are spread through fomites, which are inanimate objects that we touch,” said Dr. Gastaldo in a recent interview with 610 WTVN host Joel Riley. “Keeping your hands clean and keeping the areas around you clean is very important in eradicating where things may hang out where you get respiratory viruses from.”

Whether it's taking them along for a quick run to the grocery store or the bank, it's a good practice to wipe down heavy traffic surfaces, like shopping cart handles, before you or your child comes into contact with them.

Another tip is to make sure your child is using proper coughing and sneezing etiquette.

“People need to cough into their elbow and sneeze into a tissue and then immediately get rid of it,” said Dr. Gastaldo. “Sneezing and coughing is a major way how respiratory viruses are spread.”

Some other easy steps to take are making sure kids are well-rested, staying active and getting proper nutrition. Too long without these things can leave their bodies with a weakened immune system, making them more prone to infections.

One of Dr. Gastaldo’s final recommendations is ensuring everyone over the age of six months gets their annual flu vaccination.

“It is the best protection we have against influenza,” said Dr. Gastaldo. “We like people to have detectable antibodies when we have peak flu season. I generally tell people to get it around mid to late September.”

To find a primary care physician near you, click here.