Taking a child
to see their pediatrician can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially during cold and flu
season, when bacteria is flying around the room like an inflatable air dancer.
Oh sure, you can stuff your purse with antibacterial soap and bleach-infused
wipes, but it shouldn't be necessary when you're sitting inside of a medical
facility that is supposed to be sterile—right?
Turns out, the
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees and is in the process of updating their
recommendations to prevent the spread of germs during those visits.
Prevention and Control in Pediatric Ambulatory Settings," published in
the November 2017 issue of Pediatrics, declares that outpatient facilities and doctors' offices should be just as strict as hospitals when it comes to infection
control. In fact, the new recommendations are now demanding that all waiting
rooms be equipped with alcohol-based sanitizers and masks to assist those
patients who can't hold in a sneeze, cough or simply need a little help keeping
their germs in check.
In addition, the
AAP will endorse mandatory flu shots for all employees annually and
a verification of immunization (or immunity) against other vaccine-preventable
infections, including pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella and
In addition to
updating its internal policies, the AAP is also asking pediatricians to post
visual reminders for patients to cover their noses and mouths with an elbow
rather than their hands when coughing and sneezing. Though (hopefully)
unnecessary, the visible displays should also serve as a reminder to properly
dispose of tissues.
The new proposal
also includes specific precautions for cystic fibrosis patients, whose lungs are
especially vulnerable to drug-resistant bacterial infections. For their safety,
the AAP recommends placing those patients directly into the exam room.
Among other recommendations,
which include proper hygiene for medical staff and for handling infectious
materials, the report urges doctors not to stock their waiting rooms with plush
toys, which are a haven for microorganisms. Instead,
parents are encouraged to bring their own toys, specifically those made with
It’s just one more thing for Mom to stick in her purse. Chances are
it was already in there, though, right next to the wipes she will continue to pack
in case the doctor's office forgets theirs.
Chances are good, very good, that you will catch a cold or get the flu this winter. And that flu might arrive sooner than you expect. The CDC reports that the flu season is off to an early and possibly nasty start. (Get vaccinated, asap!)
Chances are also good that you won’t be sure how to cope with your affliction once it hits. Old wives’ tales abound. (Eating chicken soup and keeping warm?) And some modern cures are fads in themselves. Echinacea, anyone? Here, we debunk some common myths about how to prevent, treat, and cope with cold and flu.