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Cold and Flu Survival Guide for Parents

Alison Wood |21, December 2012


The coldest months of the year often times bring unwanted holiday guests -- colds and flu bugs. How are parents suppose to cope with these merriment interrupters? Here are some tips to help you triumph over these uninvited illnesses.

- Keep the liquids coming! Drinking lots of liquids helps rehydrate your body from the fluids lost from fevers, runny noses and sweating. Dehydration can slow the recovery process as well as lead to other health problems. If drinks are unappealing, try Popsicles or frozen juice bars. Hot drinks also aid in relieving congestion.

- Rest. Your body needs time to recuperate. Say no to that number 14 holiday party that you were invited to attend. Resist the urge to go on another shopping trip. Bake your famous homemade Christmas cookies in a few days. Focus on resting and you will be participating in the holiday festivities in no time!

- Gargle. Sore throats are killer! They steal your sleep and make every bit of scrumptious morsels almost inedible. Gargling with very warm salt water several times a day will help the sore throat heal. Lozenges and throat drops can also give comfort. Try to talk as least as possible for speedier results.

- Avoid kissing your kids on the mouth. Those chubby cheeks and adorable eyes make it hard to say no to a kiss on the mouth. However, during the cold and flu season it is in your best interest to avoid it at all costs. You can easily spread your cold to your little tyke, and then he will return the favor. Colds and the flu are very contagious and spread easily from person to person.

- Wash bed linens. Bed sheets and pillowcases harbor many germs from runny noses and watery eyes. Until the cold or flu has passed, strip linens and wash them daily. It is more of a hassle, but will prevent germs from spreading.

- Steam it up! Hot vapors have many soothing qualities. They can open up a stuffy nose, soothe a sore throat, and clear up chest congestion. Try sitting in your bathroom with the hot shower running. Slowly breathe in the vapors and enjoy some comfort. Lean over a pot of boiling water to grab some extra vapors in the kitchen. Run a vaporizer a night to add humidity to the air as you sleep. After enjoying some steam, try placing Vick's Vapor Rub on your chest to aid in clearing up unwanted congestion.

- Don't lie flat. Lying flat can cause nasal and congestion issues to linger. Lying down flat on your back can also induce coughing. Try different positions until you are more comfortable. Recline in a chair or try different intervals of sitting and then lying. Prop yourself up on several pillows to give you a proper incline in the bed.

- Grab some Zinc. Taking Zinc early on in a cold or the flu has been proven to sometimes lower the duration of the illness by 50%. 13-25 mg daily is what is recommended for adults.

- It takes time to recover completely from colds and the flu. But, when should you consider seeing the doctor for further evaluation?

  • If symptoms worsen and you have a 101 degrees Farenheit fever or higher.
  • If you have been sick for longer than 10 days without improvement.

No one feels like leaving the house with a bad cold or the flu, but taking a trip to the doctor can let you know if it is indeed a flu virus or just a cold. Tests are now performed to diagnose the flu in only a few hours.

The doctor can also take a throat culture to rule out strep. Colds do not respond to antibiotics, but strep infections need antibiotics for treatment. A simple culture can lead your doctor to the knowledge of what treatment is best for your recovery.

The doctor can also determine if allergies are to blame for this illness. Allergies need a separate kind of treatment that your doctor can prescribe.

Seeing the doctor can also rule out if a sinus infection is present. Strong antibiotics are normally prescribed to kick the infection out of your body and to assure you of more comfortable nights in your near future.

Finally, the doctor can test to see if you have pneumonia or bronchitis. The flu can progress to one of these conditions and become serious -- fast. Catching these conditions early always increases chances of a successful recovery.

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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