It’s cold and flu season again, and your kids are little germ-making machines. If there’s “something going around” your kid’s school, it just might make its way back to your house – and now the entire family is coughing, hacking, sneezing, and sniffling.
It seems to happen to many families every year. One child starts coughing, and in a few days, you’re running ragged taking care of a houseful of sick people – and you aren’t feeling so hot, either.
So, what can you do this year to lessen the likelihood that the entire family gets walloped by a cold or flu virus? Here’s what experts recommend, and pro-active moms and dads count on to keep germs away.
Let’s start with a “what-not-to-do.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does NOT recommend over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications for kids under two years old.* That’s good to know. because some of these meds deliver potentially life-threatening side effects in young children.
The FDA also points out that OTC cold “remedies” may address some symptoms, but nothing will cure a cold or shorten its duration. In most cases, a cold or flu will run its course for at least a week while the body’s immune system handles the “cure.”
Keep them home. If your child complains of early cold or flu symptoms, like a scratchy throat, keep her home from school. Put a couple of hundred sneezing, coughing kids in a closed environment and you create an incubator for cold and flu germs. These microscopic bugs are everywhere. Don’t make the problem worse by sending your sick kid to class.
Take and record your child’s temperature regularly. Is it going up? Staying in place? A fever is an indication that your child’s body is fighting an infection, and a fever above 100.2 degrees can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Consult your doctor).
Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. While aspirin has long been used to bring down a fever, it also increases the risk of Reye’s Syndrome – a rare but serious condition for kids.
Get the dosage right. This may be easy to do when giving medications in pill or tablet form, but with liquids, it may be more difficult to deliver the right dosage to your child. Read the dosing instructions carefully. Measure the liquid carefully and accurately. If the liquid calls for a teaspoon of medicine, don’t mistakenly use a tablespoon.
In the case of cold and flu meds, less is usually best, so provide just enough medication to ease symptoms, but not so much that you make a bout with the sniffles a serious problem.
Keep your child well-fed and hydrated. You know granny’s old cold remedy – chicken soup? Well, chicken soup actually does contain anti-inflammatory ingredients, it’s soothing to the throat, easy on the digestive system, and provides liquid to keep sniffling kids hydrated.
Have kids drink water throughout the day to keep the body hydrated as it fights off the infection. Natural fruit juices are also a good choice.
Wash your hands. Teach every member of the household to wash their hands frequently to prevent the further spread of germs. Colds and flu viruses can survive on surfaces for some time. Wipe down bathrooms, bedrooms, door handles, favorite toys – you might not stop a full-blown epidemic in your house, but you may lower the risk by keeping down the germ count.
Teach your child how to wash hands. The water should be hot, use soap, and wash for as long as it takes your child to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. That’s how to wash hands when colds are around.
Also, hand-sanitizers are also an easy way to keep down the germ count. Look for sanitizers that are at least 60% alcohol and use throughout the day on your hands and the hands of your home-bound patients.
Consider buying a humidifier. Humidity alleviates upper airway swelling that sometimes leads to a long, croupy cough. Older kids can hop into a hot shower for a few minutes to inhale moisture.
Get some rest. Rest is one of the best remedies for the common cold and flu. Turn off the TV, the computer games, and hide the smartphone. Eliminate distractions, darken the child’s room, and encourage them to sleep, or at least rest quietly. If they’re under the weather, they may want to sleep more – and that’s a good thing!
When should you call the family doctor? The Food and Drug Administration* recommends that you call your family doctor when any of the following conditions exist:
- a fever in a child under two years of age;
- a fever higher than 102 degrees in any-aged child;
- signs of respiratory difficulty like shortness of breath, wheezing, and fast breathing;
- the child’s lips turn a bluish color;
- the child is unwilling to eat or drink liquids;
- a cough that lasts more than three weeks;
- the child’s cold seems to be getting worse, even after your child should be improving.
Any of these symptoms may indicate that your child has more than just a common cold.
There’s no cure for the common cold. You can’t prevent it, but you can alleviate some of the more uncomfortable symptoms before sending your child back to school.
Cold and flu season is here. Is your home ready? Are you?
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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