What to do When Your Child Gets the Flu (or a nasty cold)

Unfortunately, we aren’t close to the end of winter and that also means we are in the grip of Flu Season. If you and your family have been spared, don’t let your guard down, the flu season peaks between the months of December and February, and can last well into the month of May.

Although colds and the flu usually run their course without complications, the flu can be dangerous for young children and the elderly. Persistent hand-washing and sanitizing toys and other shared items are the best defense for the prevention of these illnesses, but nothing is foolproof. Despite best efforts, your child may get side-lined by a nasty cold or the flu. If so, there is not much you can do but make them more comfortable as they endure it.

One thing you can and should do is to ensure he or she gets plenty of rest. If your child can’t sleep, spend time cuddling, reading or coloring with them and find calm games and simple crafts that can be done while resting. Also, be sure they get plenty of fluids: good choices include water, broth, Gatorade or electrolyte replacement popsicles and as always, avoid sugary drinks and caffeine.

Congestion is an uncomfortable symptom of the flu or a cold, but according to Dr. Vaishali Flask, MD, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic, children under the age of 4 should not be given decongestants. Saline sprays, a humidifier, and chicken or vegetable soup can help relieve a stuffy nose and head. Over the counter cough medicine can be dangerous according to the FDA. Try alternatives such as warm drinks (homemade teas) or a spoonful of local honey mixed in tea or water instead. (Don’t give honey to babies under the age of one.) If you really feel your child needs cough medicine, seek your pediatrician’s advice.

Lastly, fevers can be brought down naturally by a lukewarm bath, increased fluids and the simple passing of time. However, if your child’s fever lasts more than 3 days, they have intense pain, tremors or seizures, appear lethargic or have difficulty breathing, seek medical attention.

Remember, cozy warm blankets, comfy baths and your TLC (Tender, Love and Care) can be all your child needs to get through their illness with minimal discomfort.




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