This has been a cold and flu season that might very well go down in history as one of the worst ever. Nearly everyone we know has been ill at some point and it seems like the influenza strain that has been dominant this year is especially brutal. We have been extremely lucky in that we have not had any of the severe viruses going around but with 4 children and myself being pregnant, I would be lying if I said I wasn't concerned. With every sniffle or cough, I went into panic mode wondering if I should worry. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to ask some questions to Pediatrician and Mom, Tanya Altmann and she answered them below!
Why are colds and influenza so common this time of year?
Certain viruses thrive at certain times of year, depending on climate and humidity levels. Most colds and the flu virus thrive and spread during the winter months from October to April and most commonly lately in December-February. The flu virus specifically is more stable in cold, dry air so that’s when it can easily be transmitted.
How do I know if it's just a cold or something more serious?
Patients often come into the office saying they have the flu when really they just have a cold. The symptoms between a cold and flu are different and it’s important to recognize them so you can treat your illness effectively. The flu is much more severe than a cold and it tends to come on more quickly. Cold symptoms are sore throat, runny nose, congestion, sneezing and coughing, while the flu usually produces high fever, chills, headaches, body aches and severe fatigue. If you think you or your child has the flu, call your pediatrician.
What are some of the early symptoms of cold and/or flu?
During cold & flu season, we receive lots of calls from parents who are trying to decide if their child has come down with an illness. My first question is always how is their child acting? Behavior is often the best indicator of whether a child needs to be seen right away. Fever is also often one of the first signs of the flu and is also when the child is most contagious. That’s why it’s important to have a reliable thermometer at home, like the Braun No Touch + forehead thermometer.
What are signs of complications parents need to watch out for?
If your child has a cold or the flu, seems to be improving and then worsens (i.e., fever comes back, cough gets worse), see your pediatrician as this is a sign of a secondary infection such as a pneumonia. Other signs and symptoms to call you pediatrician for are trouble breathing, fever lasting more than 4 days, any fever in a newborn, not keeping fluids down, lethargy, looking really sick.
What's the best way to prevent cold and flu?
I swear by some tried and true methods of prevention during cold & flu season. One that tops the list is washing hands. Parents should have their kids wash their hands every time they enter or leave the house and before any meal. Germs are everywhere and children will touch anything. Secondly, make sure everyone is getting enough sleep and eating healthy to help keep their immune system strong.
Who is most at risk?
Children under 2 years of age, adults age 65 and older and pregnant women are most at risk for developing complications from the flu. They should be extra cautious and speak to their doctor if they begin to show signs of the flu virus.
When in the year are flu shots recommended?
Flu vaccines are recommended yearly for everyone 6 months of age and older. As soon as the flu vaccine is available in late August or September you can get the flu vaccine for that upcoming season. In my office I typically recommend flu vaccine in September and October. I tell the kids that they should have their flu vaccine before they go trick or treating for Halloween to ensure that everyone gets it as soon as possible.
What are some ways parents can keep their children comfortable if they do come down with something?
When your sick child is relaxing on the couch or asleep in their bed, keep their head propped up to help them breathe easier. You can put extra pillows behind their head or fold a couple of towels to help elevate them. If your child is more comfortable, they’ll get the quality rest they need to recover.
If a fever or pain is making them uncomfortable, offer an appropriate dose of acetaminophen. Not every fever needs to be treated, but often treating the fever will help your child feel more comfortable.
Make sure they drink plenty of warm fluids and run a cool mist humidifier or vaporizer at night to help thin mucus and clear nasal congestion.
The Braun No Touch + Forehead Thermometer is the perfect accessory to get you through the rest of cold and flu season. It offers two simple ways to get an accurate reading without the hassle of even waking your child up. You can hold the thermometer up to 2 inches away from the forehead or gently touch the forehead in the same location. In less than 2 seconds you have an accurate reading! This could not have come at a better time for our family as we had a couple bugs come through shortly after its arrival and it was a great product to have. When our 9 year old had the stomach bug, I was able to quickly take his temperature even while he slept. Not sure how we did without something like this for so long but we are super stoked we have it now!
One lucky reader is going to win their own Braun No Touch + Forehead Thermometer!
*Product and information were provided to us at no cost via the company and/or representing PR firm. All opinions are our own*