Mom's 2014 Cold and Flu Survival GuideKatlyn Joy |14, January 2014
It's that dreaded time once more, when sneezes and coughs, aches and whimpers fill homes and school hallways. Here's the lowdown on what to do, how to know whether it's the cold or the flu, and what you need to have at home to get through the sickly season.
How to Prevent Your Baby From Getting a Cold or Flu
For colds, flus, and other assorted yuckies, being proactive is your best bet. While you can't keep your kids in a bubble, though you might wish you could, you can do a great many things to prevent them from being sick in the first place.
1. Model good hygiene and teach your children to follow your example.
Monkey see, monkey do, so make sure you wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, after touching a pet, when coming indoors, after sneezing or coughing into your hands, and around sick people. Wet your hands and lather up, rubbing vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds before rinsing completely and drying them off. Don't rely on antibacterial soaps, as the American Academy of Pediatrics states they do no better job at protecting us from germs than ordinary soap and water. Use hand sanitizers if a real wash up is not available.
2. Teach your children to cough or sneeze into their sleeve, rather than their hands.
This will help prevent the spread of viruses.
3. Avoid sick people. Sounds mean, but it's just good sense.
This time of year, colds and flu spread like wildfire and you don't want your family burned.
4. Get your family vaccinated against the flu.
Unless your baby is under 6 months of age, everyone should be vaccinated. If you got yours while pregnant, your baby will be protected by your antibodies until he or she is old enough to get a shot.
5. Take good care of yourselves.
Eat healthy, get a good night's sleep and exercise unless too sickly. Eating a variety of nutritious foods is better than a vitamin pill, but if you have trouble getting Junior to drink his milk, or Sissy to eat her broccoli, then ask your doctor if a daily vitamin is a good idea.
Is It a Cold or the Flu?
Sometimes it's all but impossible to tell without a medical diagnosis, but colds are milder and do not cause serious complications. People don't end up in the ER with colds. Flus usually result in worse body aches, harsher coughs, higher fevers and more intense lethargy and fatigue. When in doubt, consult your family doctor.
Flus can be treated with medication if caught soon enough, so don't play Dr. Mom; get to the doctor's office and find out what is happening while you can still do something about it.
Battling the Symptoms
Fever, aches and pains:
Never give children aspirin, but instead opt for Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Find out the exact dose for your child's age and weight. An overdose of these medications can do serious damage, so keep track of the doses and timing of them. A nice warm bath can do wonders for an achy body.
Children should not receive nasal sprays that act as decongestants. Instead, go with a gentle saline nasal spray and use a bulb syringe, to suck out that slimy stuff.
Scratchy and sore throats:
Nothing is better than the basics. For kids old enough, lozenges can give some relief as can gargling with warm salt water. For younger ones and infants, keep offering plenty of liquids and breastfeed on demand, even if you have the sniffles yourself.
If your child has a cough, go with Grandma's advice and offer chicken soup, and offer your child a teaspoon of honey, if over one year of age. Mild warm honey tea with lemon is another excellent soother. Most cold medicines have been taken off the market for younger children, and most probably did no good and perhaps were even dangerous.
Rest and drink plenty of fluid. Have a kids' movie marathon, get some diversions from the dollar store toy aisle and try to keep your little ones in low gear for as long as they will allow it.
If you get sick, don't try to soldier through it alone or you may get so worn down you'll be no good to anyone. Call in support and get some rest in the early stages of a virus so you can fight it off more effectively.
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