Talking to Your Child About COVID-19

April 07, 2020

As parents, we try to shield our children from bad or unpleasant news. But in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re probably already aware of the news and have questions of their own. Children deal with stress, fear, and anxiety in different ways than grown-ups; that’s why it’s important for parents to bring a calming point of view about the subject to help them feel more comfortable. Here are a few tips that will help you talk to your kids about coronavirus so you can provide them all the support they need.

 

Invite Your Child to Tell You What They Know

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Even without news programs being on in the house, children know things aren’t quite right – they’re not in school, many businesses are closed, and they probably sense your fear. So, the first thing to do is invite them to talk about it. Let your child be the one guiding the conversation and listen to all their questions and concerns. Be reassuring at all times and show them you are calm. Tell them it is normal to be worried, but they can always talk to you.

Sometimes it can be difficult to put things into words, so think about experimenting with drawing, creating stories, or doing different activities that can bring more interest to the conversation.

 

Make the Conversation Appropriate for Their Age Level

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Take an honest approach, get your facts from credible and reliable news sources and share the facts in an age appropriate way. Use language they will understand and remember to observe your children’s reactions. If you don’t have the answers to all their questions, you can search for answers together as a team.

 

Let Them Share Their Fears

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It’s important to pay attention to your children’s reactions. If they are feeling anxious or showing signs of fear, address those feelings and do not be dismissive of them. If they’ve heard other kids talking about the coronavirus, or if they have heard about it on the news, they probably think it’s a very dangerous situation that is causing many people to get sick. Keep calm and let your kids know many of the people who contract coronavirus do not get very sick, and many grown-ups are working to keep everyone safe.

 

Help Them Stay Connected to Family and Friends

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During this time of social distancing, remember that our kids are missing some of their usual interactions with family members and friends, which can make them feel worried and lonely. Talking to their loved ones over the phone or through video chat can help them stay connected and feel less concerned.

 

Teach Your Kids How to be Safe

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Teach your children the tools they need to stay safe and healthy. Show them how much they can help you and their friends and family just by washing their hands frequently. Make this a fun lesson while singing or dancing to your favorite song. Teach them that if they need to sneeze or cough, they should cover their face with the inside of their elbow. Remind them that if they start feeling sick in any way, they should let you know. Then reassure them it could just be a simple cold (but check with your family doctor, anyway).

 

Protect Your Whole Family with the Right Information

The news changes fast, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusing and dangerous misinformation out there. AltaMed is here for you to provide the latest updates, reliable news, and facts to keep your family safe.

We’re here for your other health needs and are now offering telephone appointments. Call us to find out about scheduling an appointment.

 

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COVID-19, Flu, Allergies or a Cold? A Helpful Guide to Knowing the Difference

March 17, 2020

In Southern California, flu season seems to last longer and longer each year. Thanks to drier winters and less rain, allergy season starts earlier every year. And at the moment, our nation is justifiably worried about COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus.

If you’ve got a sniffly nose, a sore throat, and a fever, you may not be 100% sure what you have. We’re here with information that will hopefully put your worries at ease, and help you determine what kind of care you need.

 

Are Coronavirus and COVID-19 the Same?

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Not exactly. Coronavirus refers to a large family of viruses. Some of these viruses make people sick with the common cold. COVID-19 is the name of the disease we’ve all heard about. The type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is so new, we still don’t know very much about it.

 

COVID-19 vs. the Flu (influenza)

When we started to learn about COVID-19, many people compared it to influenza, most commonly known as the flu, in terms of symptoms and how it spreads. Both are infectious respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by entirely different viruses.

Symptoms in common: Both illnesses cause fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, body aches, fatigue, and even vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms can be mild or severe and turn into pneumonia. Both can be fatal.

It may be possible for a sick person to have symptoms so mild, they don’t realize they have the disease, and so they may walk around spreading the virus to healthy people.

How the diseases spread: Both can be spread from person to person from the droplets that come from sneezing, coughing or even talking.

AND: Experts believe that COVID-19 is powerful enough to live on surfaces long after the infected person is no longer present.

Be proactive: Vaccinations are highly effective at preventing the flu. That’s why we strongly recommend everyone in your family get their shots every year.

Unfortunately, there still isn’t a vaccine for COVID-19 yet. Your best bet for preventing it is proper handwashing, staying home if you’re sick, and social isolation.

Treatment: Because both diseases are caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t do any good. Instead, doctors aim to treat symptoms, such as reducing fever and suppressing a cough. However, both can be serious and require hospitalization.

 

Coronavirus vs. Allergies

Allergy symptoms are usually quite different from COVID-19 symptoms. Unlike COVID-19, which is a virus, allergies are your immune system’s response to a foreign substance.

Symptoms: Allergy symptoms include itchy or runny nose, rashes or itchy skin, and watery eyes. In extreme cases of anaphylactic shock, your air passage shuts down, and it rapidly becomes difficult to breathe. Difficulty breathing is also a symptom of COVID-19, but with allergies, the onset is almost immediately after encountering a specific trigger.

Transmission: Allergies aren’t contagious like a cold or flu, so there’s no chance of spreading it from one person to the next. Allergies do have a genetic component, which is why it may seem like other people in your family have them at the same time you do.

Prevention: Unless you do allergy testing and shots, your best method for preventing allergic reactions is to keep an allergy diary and then stay away from your triggers.

Treatment: You can usually treat allergy symptoms with common, over-the-counter remedies, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and medicated lotions to help relieve itchy rashes and hives.

 

COVID-19 vs. the Common Cold

Mild cases of COVID-19 may be mistaken for a cold.

Symptoms in common: Because many of the symptoms are the same, it can be tough to tell the difference. Experts say that if your first symptoms included a sore throat and runny nose, it’s likely just a cold. A fever could be a sign that it’s something more than a cold.

Prevention: The common cold is famously difficult to prevent. But following the same protocol for COVID-19 should help protect you.

Treatment: There’s not much you can do for a cold, other than treating the symptoms. Time-tested advice includes getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, using a humidifier, and taking age-appropriate over-the-counter remedies.

 

When Should I Go to the Doctor?

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First off, the good news is that about 80% of COVID-19 cases resolve quickly on their own when the person stays home, gets rest, and treats the symptoms.

Unless your symptoms get dramatically worse or you feel short of breath, you may not need to seek treatment (though it's OK to call your doctor and ask). AltaMed is advising our patients to treat mild symptoms just like you would treat a cold by staying home, taking over-the-counter cold treatments like Tylenol or Nyquil. Avoid other people until your symptoms go away for at least 72 hours without having to take these medications.

 

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please confirm with your doctor the timing of when you are no longer contagious.

To learn more about COVID-19 precautions, treatments, and news, bookmark our Coronavirus resource page. And for the time being, AltaMed is waiving the cost-sharing and co-pays for medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19.

 

Show Yourself Some Love with 9 Self-Care Tips During the Coronavirus Crisis

March 31, 2020

We’re all dealing with new stresses, challenges, and realities as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. With everything that’s going on in the world right now it can feel trivial or wrong to make time to do something nice for yourself. Many of us feel guilty if we’re not focusing on our families. But the truth is, to be a good parent, caregiver, partner, or whatever your role may be, you have to take care of yourself first.

That’s the idea behind self-care: recharging our batteries so we can be there for ourselves and others. Self-care has real health benefits, and you can do it for next to nothing or free. The important part is carving time out in your day to focus on you. Here are a few ideas, big and small, you can put to use right away.

 

Try Guided Meditation

Section 1For some people, meditation is the opposite of relaxing – trying to quiet your mind can be a lot of work for many. Guided meditation is a more structured option where you listen to a narrator and follow their cues: they may ask you to imagine yourself in a beautiful landscape, take you on a journey of memory, or have you picture serenity flowing into your body. You can find thousands of options for free online, including a free trial on Headspace.

 

Take a Bubble Bath

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Take a Bubble Bath When was the last time you took a bubble bath?

According to RealSimple, you can make a wonderful bubble bath out of common materials you probably already have at home, including honey, eggs, and liquid soap. Not into bubbles? Try a warm bath with Epsom Salt or a few drops of essential oil. Allow the water to soothe your muscles and your mind. Make the experience your own: light a candle, add some flowers, read a book or magazine...or just relax and do nothing at all.

 

Start a Gratitude Journal

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Every day find a few quiet moments to think about, then write down, things that you’re thankful for. Nothing is too small: you can start with one or two statements like, “I’m grateful my kids are healthy,” “I’m thankful that my husband took out the trash for me,” or “I’m grateful that I get to watch my favorite TV show tonight.” Do it on a regular basis. After a while, you will surely notice how it changes the way you feel.

 

Don’t Put off Your Health Needs

Section 4Women usually put the needs of their families first and don’t make time to care for themselves. Men, on the other hand, often don’t make their health a priority. Now, more than ever, you need to be proactive about staying healthy. Make sure you are eating right, drinking enough water, and getting enough sleep. If you are due for any regular screenings or require periodic check-ups to manage a chronic condition, talk to your doctor about any precautions you should take before visiting a medical site. You may be asked to go to a location you are not used to or see a different doctor, but it’s important to keep up with your preventative care.

 

Dance in Your Living Room

Section 5Get in your self-care and your cardio all at the same time. This one is so effective because when you dance or do anything that gets your heart rate up, your brain starts releasing endorphins, those chemicals that can make you feel happier. Don’t be shy: put on a few of your favorite tunes and start moving.

 

Show Your Feet a Little Love

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Show Your Feet a Little Love A do-it-yourself pedicure is a relaxing way to reward your feet for all they do for you. Even if you don’t apply polish, a warm-water soak will feel heavenly. According to the principles of acupuncture and massage, the feet are home to pressure points or areas that correspond to other areas or systems of your body, which is why self-massage feels so good. Try using a golf or racquet ball to roll out the soles of your feet – you won’t believe how incredible it feels!

 

Drink a Cup of Tea

Section 7For centuries, people all over the world have used tea to help them feel peaceful, calm, and even fall asleep. If you can, create a beautiful ritual around a daily cup of tea – maybe it’s at the beginning of the day before anyone’s awake, or in the evening after everyone’s gone to bed. Read the label, since some teas contain caffeine, which can make you feel wired or nervous.

 

Make Your Favorite Smoothie

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A special smoothie is a great way to get essential nutrients, but it also feels like you’re treating yourself. Bananas and strawberries make a thick, fiber-filled base. Then add other fruits and leafy, green vegetables like spinach or kale. For some healthy fat, you can also add nuts or a little nut butter. Freeze your fruit and skip the ice for a more flavorful experience. Top it off with a sprinkle of healthful cinnamon or nutmeg for a drink that’s so delicious, you won’t need to sweeten it with extra sugar.
 

Ask for the Help You Need

The best way to take care of yourself is to get the support you need from others. For many independent people, this can feel scary or weird. If you’ve always been the strong, reliable one, your family may not think you need help!

Start by using “I” statements. For example, “I’d love it if you could help me with the housework” or “I feel frustrated when I have to fold all the laundry myself.” If you’re living alone during this time of social distancing, use “I” statements to ask friends to chat via Zoom, FaceTime, or a phone call. For example, “I’d love to set aside time to catch up this week,” or “I’m feeling a little lonely, are you free to talk?”

You can also talk to AltaMed. We’re here to support you and your entire family’s health needs, from head to toe. We’re also stepping up our efforts in the community to support those who need it most. AltaMed has got your back, and we want you to take care of yourself – from the inside, out!