Colds and flu
Andrea DeMets, MD, is a pediatrician with Cardon Children's Medical Center
Question: How can I protect my kids and myself from the upcoming cold and flu season?
Answer: To keep the sniffles and coughs away, prevention is a must. Here are some simple things that your family and you can do to prevent the spread of germs that can lead to cold and flu.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Remember, everything that you touch was probably touched by someone else.
- Avoid sharing drinking and eating utensils with others, especially those that are not feeling well.
When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or the inside elbow of your sleeve to prevent germs from becoming airborne. If possible, avoid crowds during a flu outbreak.
Unfortunately, the odds are that someone in the family will get sick during the cold and flu season. To properly treat your child once illness hits, you need to know whether he or she has a cold or the flu. The flu is usually accompanied by a high fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, chills, body aches and a decrease in appetite. Symptoms are usually sudden. The onset of a cold, however, is usually slow and less commonly affects energy level to the same degree. Children may have similar symptoms to the flu, so it is important to visit his/her pediatrician if no improvement occurs within 5-days from the onset of symptoms.
To help children recover from illness, make sure they drink lots of fluids. This can include ice pops, blended icy drinks or soft fruits such as melons or grapes. Encourage your child to get plenty of rest. Make sure that he or she dresses in layers. Layers will help your child deal with the constant temperature changes that are common to the flu. Apply salt water drops to the nostrils to relieve nasal congestion. Use a cool-mist humidifier to increase air moisture. Put petroleum jelly on the skin under the nose to soothe rawness. Acetaminophen is useful if your child complains of aches. These all help to ease your child’s discomfort.
In general, call your doctor whenever your child has a “cold” that lasts for more than 10 days or for “allergies” that don’t clear with the usual allergy medication. The important thing to remember is that flu symptoms can vary from child to child and change throughout the illness, so if you suspect the flu, call your child’s doctor.