Sick Prevention and Remedies
It's that time of year when families are more susceptible to becoming sick and there's an increase in the spread of respiratory illnesses. These include, among others, the common cold, Flu, RSV, and COVID-19. With people traveling during the holidays and spending more time indoors, the risk of contracting a viral infection is higher. However, there are several measures of prevention that you can take to protect your family from falling ill and to reduce the spread of viruses.
One of the best ways to keep babies and younger children safe from sickness is to limit their exposure to crowds or anyone who might be infected. In addition, Infants greatly benefit from breastfeeding, as breast milk contains antibodies that fight against infections. It's also important to make sure that your children and everyone in the family are up to date with their vaccinations that protect against the common respiratory illnesses. For more information or to schedule a vaccination appointment, call our office.
We always encourage families to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading germs. It's especially important to wash hands after touching objects and surfaces, as well as before eating and touching the face. Most studies show that regular soap is as effective as using antibacterial soap. And in fact, antibacterial soap may kill off good bacteria. Therefore, it is recommended to stick to ordinary soap when possible. When hand washing is not an option, you can also use hand sanitizer. It's also helpful to disinfect surfaces and objects in the house that were recently touched by an infected individual. Good sanitary habits can keep your kids from becoming sick. For information about disinfectants for the home and how to use them safely, check out this guide. If any member of the family does become ill, if possible, limit their exposure to others in the house until they recover. Remind everyone to always cover their nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing.
Sometimes even with the best measures followed, children contract virus infections, especially during the school year. In most cases though, illnesses like the common cold and RSV are not serious and seldom require hospitalization. However, being sick can be a miserable experience for your kids and you'll want to make them as comfortable as possible. There are various at-home remedies to help your child feel better. To aid in congestion and make breathing easier, you can use a cool mist humidifier or a vaporizer to clear sinuses. (Heated water humidifiers can lead to burn injuries.) Using nasal saline with gentle suctioning can also break down mucus. Keep your child hydrated with fluids and make sure they're getting enough rest. For children over 12 months of age, honey can help relieve a cough.
We recommend avoiding giving your child cough medicines or aspirin. If your child is older than 2 months, you can use acetaminophen and if they are older than 6 mons, they can use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve cold symptoms (headaches, sore throat, ear aches, etc.) and fevers. Antibiotics are not useful for viral infections and can only fight infections caused by bacteria. They also do not treat symptoms of illnesses. For children over the age of 4, you can give them OTC cough and cold medicines. Follow the instructions on the package and do not give them more than the recommended amount.
If your child experiences any serious symptoms like trouble breathing, dehydration, severe cough, significant irritability or lethargy, you are worried about their hydration, or they have a high fever, call our office right away to get in touch with one of our doctors. For all people, the definition of a fever is 100.4°F or higher. Children under 8 weeks of life with a fever of 100.4 or greater should immediately go to CHOA ER. For children between 2 and 6 months, a fever over 103 should be evaluated and for all other children, a high fever would be over 104°F.