During the holidays, life can be especially busy; unfortunately, this time of year is made even more hectic with the arrival of cold season.
From sore throats to fevers, the common cold can be a big deal to our young patients. These symptoms can also be exacerbated by busy holiday schedules and interaction with others who are sick.
At Pediatrics East, we are here to guide you and your kids through all the ups and downs of growing up – and the common cold is one of those moments where you can count on us! We are always a phone call away to answer your questions and help determine the best treatment for your child.
Before colds and the flu strike your household, follow our doctors’ answers to common questions and myths that we hear this time of year.
Q: How can my child avoid catching a cold?
A: Patients should always wash their hands often and well, but especially during cold season. Colds, the flu, and other viruses are spread through coughs, sneezes, and bacteria that cover surfaces around us.
Teach your kids early on to wash their hands, for at least 20 seconds. Make it fun! Encourage your kids to say the alphabet, count, or sing a little song to themselves while washing their hands to make sure they reach 20 seconds of scrubbing.
If you have more than one child, you may worry that if one child gets sick, they all will. We recommend teaching your kids, along with hand washing, to cover when they sneeze or cough, preferably into the crook of their elbow versus their hands.
Finally, instruct your children to reduce touching their face, particularly eyes, nose, and mouth, where viruses can quickly enter their systems.
As a parent, you can keep hand sanitizer, tissues, and wipes on hand for quick cleaning of hands and surfaces.
Q: How are colds treated? When will I know that my child needs an antibiotic from their pediatrician?
A: There is nothing worse than seeing your child suffer. Naturally, you look for quick remedies to get them feeling back to normal as soon as possible.
Luckily, colds should only last a couple of days, when they are treated properly. The following things should be done to help your child feel better:
- Drink lots of fluids, primarily water. Hydration is key to keeping their bodies refreshed and washing away other infections.
- Offer comforting meals like chicken soup or toast; if your child has no appetite, offer something nourishing yet somewhat bland, like white rice.
- Avoid giving your child caffeine, typically found in soft drinks.
If your child is being treated for their cold and is not finding relief, it may be time to come visit us. Antibiotics from your pediatrician can help your child battle bacteria, which can manifest in sinus infections, ear infections, or strep throat.
Q: My child keeps getting colds. Why?
A: As your child’s immune system develops, his or her body will react differently to the various viruses and bacteria presented. This, along with the fact that children play together closely, results in the passing of germs quickly and effectively.
Despite this regular exchange of germs, there are things you can do to promote general health and immunity to illness in your child:
- Prepare healthy meals, rich in vitamins.
- Make sure they get plenty of rest.
- Encourage exercise.
- Discourage touching of face, especially mouth, nose, and eyes
Q: Will the cold weather make my child’s colds worse or more frequent?
A: Despite what you may have been told over the years, this is a myth.
Of course, children should be bundled up as temperatures drop; however, being outside will not make their health worse. For children who have certain conditions, such as asthma, the cold can cause problems, but does not attribute to cold and flu viruses.
Q: When will I know if my child has the flu versus a cold?
A: Sometimes it can be difficult to decide just how sick your child is. Especially when they are little, kids cannot articulate how sick they feel.
There are a few ways to distinguish a cold from the flu:
- A cold can show itself through one or all of the following:
- Ear, nose, and throat issues, such as earaches, runny (or stuffy) noses, and sore throats
- A cough
- A mild fever
- The flu can include all of these symptoms, along with:
- High fever
- Little or no energy
- No appetite
- Congestion in head, nose, chest
- Cough with phlegm
Of course, the best way to avoid the flu is to schedule your child’s flu shot. If you think your child has the flu already, call us today.
Your Memphis Cold and Flu Experts
Just like you, we want your holiday season to be filled with wonder and joy, not coughs, colds, and chills! We are here for you and your family whenever sickness strikes – call our appointment line at 901-757-3535 when you need us.
All of us at Pediatrics East wish you a happy and healthy holiday season, and we will see you in the New Year!