Common Cold and the Flu 

It is that time of year!  The common cold and the flu are both respiratory viruses that spread more frequently during the winter months of the year. There are many respiratory viruses that can cause a cold.  Healthy children get about 6 colds a year.  Being near a sick person, especially when they cough or sneeze, can cause children and adults to pick up the viruses from breathing in the droplets released. You can also get infected by touching objects and surfaces that contain the viruses and then touching your nose and mouth. Good sanitary and hygiene habits such as washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and wiping down surfaces with disinfectants are helpful practices to prevent becoming ill. For the flu, it’s important for your family to get the vaccine to prevent serious sickness and complications. 

Typical symptoms of the common cold include a runny nose, sore throat, loss of appetite, constant sneezing and coughing, swollen glands and low-grade fever. These symptoms show up when your child has the flu as well. But with the flu, you might also see a sudden and high fever, a dry cough, chills, headaches, body aches, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. Children with the flu usually feel sicker than they do with the common cold and the flu often lasts longer. Flu symptoms can also remain for at least a week.  Colds are generally not serious.  With a cold, about 5-10% of children will go on to develop another health problem caused by a bacteria such as a sinus infection or an ear infection.  While there is no cure for the common cold or the flu, there are things you can do to help your child feel better. If your child is sick, make sure they’re getting plenty of rest and hydration. As congestion can be uncomfortable and leave kids feeling down, you can use a nasal spray with saline (salt water) to loosen and remove mucus. A cool mist humidifier is also effective for relieving congestion and making it easier for your child to breathe. Warm baths or sitting for 10-15 minutes in a steamy bathroom are helpful for clearing out congestion as well.  

To help soothe a sore throat, you can mix some honey into water or herbal tea if your child is older than 1. It is not safe for babies under one year of age to consume any honey. Children between ages 1 and 5 can be given half a teaspoon. For ages 6 to 11, you can give one teaspoon, and for children over 12, you can give two. Cough drops can also be used as a last resort if your child is older than 6, but it’s important to avoid giving your child more cough drops than instructed on the product.  

Fevers can occur to help your child’s body fight infections. But if they cause extreme discomfort, you can give your child an acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). Be sure to follow the correct dosage based on your child’s age. For the acetaminophen dosage table, click here. And for the ibuprofen dosage table, click here. 

Most cold and flu symptoms will go away on their own and home remedies will be enough to make children feel more comfortable. However, in certain circumstances, your child may need to see the pediatrician. Always call the doctor if your baby is under 3 months of age and has sick symptoms or you have a baby under one year with a fever. For any child older than 3 months, it is recommended to call the pediatrician if nasal congestion/mucus last more than 2 weeks, their cough lingers for 3 weeks or changes, they have ear pain, they have a fever that lasts longer than 3 days or sore throat that lasts longer than 5 days. 

Trouble breathing, also known as respiratory distress, is a reason to see a doctor right away.  These are some symptoms we worry about:  struggling for each breath or shortness of breath, trouble speaking or crying due to difficulty breathing, ribs pulling in with each breath, noisy breathing such as wheezing, fast breathing, lips or face turn a blue color.  Additional reasons to seek care right away are chest pain, severe muscle pain, extreme dehydration, or seizures. Keep in mind that risks for complications from the cold and flu are higher in children with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, an immune system condition, or lung, heart, or kidney disease. If complications occur, please bring your child to the doctor. 

If you have any concerns about your child’s sickness or fever, please contact our office.  

Wishing everyone a healthy winter season!

Toy Safety

Toys are not only fun for children to play with, but they can support their development and teach them essential skills. However, when buying toys for your kids, you want to keep safety in mind. Some toys are hazardous and can cause injuries so it’s important to always read the warning labels of the products. Labels provide information on what ages are suitable for the toy and how to properly use it. Young children and infants should not be given small size toys that they can put into their mouth as these can cause choking. On the other hand, the toy shouldn’t be too large or heavy for the child to pick up that they cause an injury. 

For infants and toddlers, it’s best to find toys that are made with soft materials and don’t have sharp edges. Babies might accidentally hurt themselves when they put the toy near their eyes, mouth, or ears. Toys with rounded and dull edges are safer to use. Stuffed toys are great options but if they have any loose strings or ribbons, these should be removed to avoid strangulation. It’s also important to stay away from stuffed toys that have small bean-like pellets or stuffing. Like with any other toy, stuffed toys should be washable. Kids tend to share their toys with other children and the surfaces can easily become infected when anyone is sick. To prevent the spread of illness, toys should be wiped and cleaned regularly and anytime your child is ill. 

A crucial thing to keep in mind about soft and stuffed toys is that these should never be placed into your baby’s crib. Soft objects and loose bedding increase the risk of suffocation and SIDS. 

If you’re buying any kind of plastic toy, make sure it’s sturdy and can’t easily be broken into sharp pieces. It’s also good to pay close attention to the materials being used and refrain from buying toys that have toxic materials that can cause poisoning. The label should indicate “non-toxic.” To ensure that electric toys are safe, the label should mention that the toy is “UL Approved.”

While magnetic toys can be educational for children, they can cause internal injuries if the magnets are loose or the toys have high-powered magnet sets and there’s accidental swallowing. You can sign up for alerts on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) page to get info on which of these toys have been recalled. 

In addition to the materials that are used, it’s also important to pay attention to the loudness of toys that have noise. If any of them appear to be too loud, there’s a risk that the toy can affect your child’s hearing. The volume of a toy should always be at a safe level for the ears. 

Whenever your child is playing with a new toy for the first time, it’s best to supervise them to ensure that they know how to play safely. If you see them misusing the toy, correct them early or remove the toy from their reach if you believe it’s unsafe.

Lastly, toys are common gifts during the holiday season and of course, birthdays. Always check the toy that anyone buys for your child to verify it’s safe for them. For any questions or concerns about your child’s safety, talk to our pediatrician. 

Hygiene and Sanitary Habits for Sick Prevention

The cold and flu season is here and cases of other respiratory illnesses like the common cold, RSV, and COVID-19 tend to increase around this time of year. Holiday gatherings, travel, weather changes, and spending more time indoors make the risk of contracting an infection even higher. That is why it’s essential to practice good hygiene and sanitary habits to reduce the spread of germs.

Encourage everyone in your family to regularly wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. 20 seconds might seem like a short time, but it is longer than most people realize! To ensure that younger children are washing their hands well, supervise them and guide them on how to be thorough. You can even play 20 seconds of music so that they get a feel of how long the time is. Teach them to clean every surface of their hands with soap and in between their fingers. They should also learn how to rinse their hands completely. 

While many stores sell antibacterial soaps, we recommend sticking to ordinary soap. Antibacterial soap is not more effective and can in fact kill off good bacteria and cause resistant bacteria to grow. When handwashing is not an option, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a good alternative to getting rid of germs. Never allow younger children to use hand sanitizers alone. Accidental swallowing can cause poisoning and some children might inadvertently squirt the sanitizer into their eyes or mouth. You can also use hand wipes as another option. Any guest visiting should also wash their hands before interacting with your children. Children are more vulnerable to becoming sick as their immune system is still developing. 

One of the most common ways that respiratory viruses spread is through airborne transmission. A good habit for your family to adopt is to always cover the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing to decrease secretions going into the air. Advise your children to sneeze or cough into their sleeve/elbow or tissue instead of using their hands, since they can spread germs when touching objects or other people. Tissues should be thrown away immediately after use. 

Making an effort to prioritize housecleaning is also important for killing germs and preventing illness. Items brought inside the household that are infected can spread the virus onto anything they touch. And viruses can survive on objects and surfaces for several hours to even a few days. You’ll want to make sure to regularly disinfect surfaces with warm water and cleaning sprays or wipes. If any member in the household is sick, it’s important that the bathroom is disinfected after they use it to prevent them from spreading illness. Keep cleaning solutions away from young children as their chemicals can be hazardous. Store the products in places that your children cannot access and always follow the warning labels on them. 

Aside from objects and surfaces, be aware that some food can be contaminated with bacteria and germs. Raw vegetables and fruits should be washed thoroughly before consuming. Meat should be fully cooked as well. Never buy packaged food that isn’t sealed properly. 

All of these cleaning and hygiene habits are good to practice all year round and are important for everyday health. But during sick season, it’s especially prudent to be extra mindful of germ prevention!