Wednesday, September 18, 2013

School is in Session and so are All Those Germs

Loyola Family Medicine Physician Gives Tips for Keeping Germs at Bay

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Most parents are all too familiar with the equation: school + kids = sick days. With more than 200 cold viruses, it’s no wonder parents feel like they are fighting a losing battle when it comes to keeping their kids healthy.

“Kids will be exposed to germs and inevitably get colds, even with the best preventive measures, and that’s OK,” said Jessica McIntyre, MD, family physician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

According to McIntyre, young children will get about seven to eight colds a year and school-age children will average five to six colds a year. Kids tend to get more colds during the school year because they are in an enclosed classroom surrounded by other children who are sharing these very common viruses.

“Parents sometimes worry that they have done something wrong to cause frequent colds, or that their child is not healthy. Actually, cold viruses help build a child’s immune system and are an unavoidable part of growing up,” McIntyre said.

She offers these tips to help keep illness to a minimum.

  • Family flu vaccines. Everyone who is 6 months or older should be vaccinated. Talk to your physician about which type of vaccine is right for your family members.
  • Have your children wash their hands as soon as they get home from school and consider having them change into “home clothes.” This is especially beneficial if you have a young infant at home.
  • Your kids know their ABCs but what about their CCCs?

          *Clean – Wash your hands and make sure your kids wash their hands frequently.

          *Cover  – Cover your cough and sneeze, preferably with a tissue, but if one is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.

          *Contain – Stay at home if you are sick; germs are one thing that aren’t good to share.

There is some evidence that certain complementary products can be effective in cold prevention if taken regularly.

  • Probiotics: 1 g mixed with milk twice daily
  • Vitamin C: 1 g daily
  • Zinc sulfate: 15 mg syrup or 10 mg tablet daily

“Being exposed to the germs that cause colds and diarrheal illness during childhood is very important in order to develop solid immunity against these viruses. Because kids normally develop this immunity early on, by the time they are teenagers they usually only experience about four colds per year,” McIntyre said. “Viral illnesses are going to happen, just be prepared to offer lots of snuggles to help your children get through the inevitable colds."

Media:  Please contact Evie Polsley at or call (708) 216-5313 or (708) 417-5100 for more information.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.