Halloween has passed, but the scariest time of the year has just begun: cold and flu season. Winter can be unsettling when you have juvenile arthritis. Some medications used to treat JA can weaken the immune system, making it easier to catch any viruses going around. Getting sick can be hard on kids with JA; they might feel extra soreness, and it may take them longer to feel better than their peers. They may even need to put JA treatments on hold until they recover.
Defense against disease
It’s natural to feel anxious at this time of year. It’s especially worrying because kids often spend hours together in tight quarters such as day care, locker rooms, and classrooms. But there are many precautions you can take to help prevent the spread of disease.
Youngsters with JA should get a flu vaccine, especially if they’re using immunosuppressants. The best line of defense is to have everyone in your house get a flu shot, to reduce the risk of someone getting sick and spreading germs.
Keep communal spaces in the house clean and wash shared blankets frequently. Remind your children to wash their hands after gym classes and sports practices. Older kids and teens should keep sanitizer sprays on hand for use on personal sports equipment.
Even when you’re taking all the precautions possible, it can be hard to avoid worrying. The last thing you want is for your child to get sick. It can be tempting to want to put them in a bubble.
But try to have faith in the flu shot; it’s an excellent first line of defense. And other options, such as antiviral medication, can make the flu easier to cope with. While it’s not a cure, it can reduce flu symptoms by one day, which is nothing to sneeze at. If your child is showing signs of an infection, such as a fever, it’s important to call the doctor right away. The doctor may recommend using one of these medications as a precaution.
Have faith in your children to do their part to stay clean. Encourage them to wash their hands before eating and to keep their hands to themselves. Older kids and teens often understand that these precautions are necessary. Even little ones can come around to the idea when you incorporate it into a routine.
Getting sick is not inevitable
I think it’s important to note that though it’s easy to get sick, it might not happen. It’s entirely possible to stay healthy. While some years I felt as if I’d caught every cold going around, some flu seasons passed without a hitch. You’ll never know how the season will go, so try to be as positive as possible. With the right precautions, your family might do just fine this cold and flu season.
Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Juvenile Arthritis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.