Tag Archives: flu

How to Minimize the Spread of the Common Cold and Flu Virus

If you have small children at home or children in school, cold viruses can be a big bump in your family’s routine. A cold virus can certainly cause discomfort to the child or adult who is sick, and cause missed pre-school, school and activity time for children, as well as missed working hours for parents. Add to that uncomfortable, sleepless nights, worry (for parents and caregivers) and everyone just feeling down-in-the-dumps. Colds are no fun at all.

There are ways, however, to help keep colds from being spread rampantly throughout the family and beyond your home to school and the community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 80 percent of infectious disease viruses are spread by touch. From your child’s hands, to his mouth and eyes… to the hands of others, and so forth.

Here are a few tips to help keep cold viruses to a minimum and to help your family survive the cold and flu season better:

  • Hand-washing. Supervise little ones, making sure they use warm running water and soap. Hand-washing should be done after sneezing, touching or blowing the nose, and going to and the bathroom, and before eating anything! If you don’t have soap at hand, use hand-sanitizer–and then use soap and water when available.
  • Washing and changing bed linens, towels and children’s clothing is important; wash towels and bed linens frequently that are used by your sick child separately from other children’s things in hot water and detergent.
  • Emptying bathroom and bedroom trash baskets (full of tissues) into plastic garbage bags that are tied and deposited in the garbage. Make sure also to dispose of diapers of children with colds immediately. Flu viruses can spread via feces too.
  • Making sure the surfaces of kitchen counters, bathroom counters, toilets, hand railings, etc., are disinfected with wipes at least once a day.
  • During the duration of your child’s cold, use paper cups in the bathroom that can be trashed, instead of plastic bathroom glasses where germs can reside more permanently.
  • If a child is very small or is teething and has a cold, make sure to wash their pacifier, teething toys and other washable toys in hot water after they use them; and wash their face and hands after a sneeze, thoroughly patting them dry to avoid chapping.
  • Teach children who are old enough to learn to cover their cough or sneeze with their elbow or a tissue–and to place that tissue in another one and then in the trash.
  • Touching the nose, mouth or eyes can spread that cold through the tiniest amounts of mucous, sputum or tears. Often this is the way children pass colds to others.
  • We know it can be nearly impossible, but keeping a very sick child temporarily away from well children is a big help in restricting the spread of a cold virus.
  • Once a cold is over, ditch your child’s contaminated toothbrush and give them a new one, along with clean towels and washcloth.
  • Parents, don’t forget to wash your hands and cover your coughs and sneezes too! You don’t need to be the next target for the flu.

Meanwhile, please try to have a happy, healthy holiday season!

Does My Child Have the Flu… or A Cold?

Mid-February is the peak of this year’s flu season, medical professionals tell us. And there’s still time to get a flu shot if parents and caregivers haven’t gotten theirs–but how do you tell in kids if it’s the flu or a cold?

According to Pediatrics, Vincent Iannelli, MD, children will experience a quick onset of the flu with a high fever, severe headache, muscle aches and chills, nasal congestion or runny nose, sore throat, nausea and vomiting. http://pediatrics.about.com/cs/commoninfections/a/flu_treatments.htm

Cold symptoms, however, are usually milder and manifest themselves between 2 and 5 days after exposure to someone who is or has been sick. The symptoms of a cold are typically fever, runny nose, congestion, headache, muscle aches and coughing.  Symptoms may get worse between days 3 and 5 and go away between days 10 and 14.  So while a cold may last longer than the flu, it may not cause the fatigue, nausea and vomiting of the flu.  Some children may have all of these symptoms and some children may only have one or two.

Antibiotics generally do not help a cold or the flu–since they are caused by viruses–and they won’t help a child get over a cold sooner or prevent a secondary infection of the sinuses or ears.  To soothe colds in kids, caregivers should try using a cool mist humidifier in their room, lots of fluids and bed rest.  (And make sure that humidifier is clean, clean, clean!)

Parents should pay special attention, however, to the presence of fevers in children and to the child’s temperatures and to how long a fever lasts.  If your infant has a fever, call your primary care physician and keep your child hydrated. Recognizing the symptoms of cold and flu in toddlers is very important as active children may become dehydrated quickly, so being observant of their habits, recognizing when they feel good or not is key to healing.

Babies up to six months old are at the greatest risk from complications due to flu as they do not have mature immune systems and they are at risk from respiratory distress due to their small airways.  http://www.vicks.com/care-center/treat-relieve/articles/children-cold-symptom-translator/  As a general rule, it is not good to give your infant cold medicine.

Traditionally, doctors have said, that there’s really no different way to treat the flu than the way you would treat a serious cold, making your child comfortable and treating the symptoms–but recent improvements to children’s medicines are on the horizon with some anti-viral medicines being developed, such as Tamiflu, but antivirals should be evaluated and prescribed for use only by your primary care physician on a case-by-case basis.

ChildSafetyBlog.org likes what About.com.Pediatrics and Vicks.com have to say about treatment of colds in kids!

Are Cold Medicines for Kids Safe?

Recently, there has been controversy over the safety and efficacy of many cough and cold medicines for young children.   Last year, the FDA.issued a public health advisory warning against the use of such medicines for children under two.  In October, manufacturers voluntarily changed the labeling and warnings to state that these medicines should not be given to children under four.

The problem is that studies have shown that cough and cold medicines are not effective for young children, and there are approximately 7,000 pediatric emergency room visits per year as a result of adverse reactions.  Most of these visits are the result of unintentional overdosing — parents guess at the dose, or they don’t realize when two medicines contain the same active ingredient.  Studies are currently being done regarding whether these medicines are effective for children under 12, but they won’t be completed for a couple of years.

So, where does that leave us parents?  First, don’t panic, and don’t necessarily clean out your medicine cabinets.  Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Do not give adult medicines to children, no matter how much you cut the dose.
  • Strictly follow dosing instructions.
  • Talk to your pediatrician about which medicines to use and in what amounts.
  • Check the “Drug Facts” section of the label to see what the active ingredients are.  For instance, most of the cough and cold medicines contain some type of pain reliever such as acetomitophine (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil), in addition to other ingredients for cough or a stuffy nose.
  • Be very careful when giving more than one medicine at a time — this is where accidental overdoses often occur.  Using the example above, a problem could arise if a parent gives their child Advil and then a multi- symptom medicine containing Advil.
  • Realize that these medicines do nothing to cure or shorten colds and the flu.  They only work on the symptoms.  Make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids and rest.

Check back here — the CSB will be monitoring the current studies and announcements regarding cough and cold medicines

So what are the parents out there doing — using these medicines or not?