Do's and Don'ts for this Cough, Cold and Flu Season

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Meet Michelle! She is my Soror and friend. She is also the main\ pill pusha over at Taylored For You, a site that wants to empower individuals by providing health related information that will enable people to make informed decisions, to inform the public of available assistance for medical care options, pharmaceutical products, and services, and to link people with resources so they can optimize their health care experience. I had a question one day as I watched the frog princess cough and of course, I turned to her. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind for this cold and flu season.

 

 

Just in time for cough, cold and flu season, I'd like to give parents a few tips to try and help your children and other family members avoid contracting infectious diseases this winter. Disinfecting, hand washing, safe pet keeping and vaccination are key to keeping our children and family healthy through the cough, cold and flu season as well as throughout the entire year.

  • Washing your Hands Washing your hands and teaching our children to wash their hands is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Washing your hands gets rid of the germs you pick up from touching surfaces, touching other people or playing with pets!
    • When to Wash?
      • Before eating
      • Before, during and after handling food
      • After having contact with bodily fluids (after going to the bathroom)
      • After changing a diaper
      • After handling the pet's toys
      • After touching something that could be contaminated like, trash, trash cans, cleaning cloths, drains and soil
      • Frequently when someone in the household is sick
      • Whenever they look dirty!
  • How to Wash The important thing about washing your hands is not the amount of soap and water you use, but the amount of friction applied and the length of time. How much time you say? Just imagine yourself singing the Happy Birthday song, TWICE!! Dry your hands using a paper towel or hand dryer and if all possible, use a paper towel to turn off the running water.
  • Disinfection:
    • In the kitchen disinfect surfaces, especially where raw meat, poultry and eggs have come into contact. If using Cloth towels use once then wash in hot water. Cloth towels can re-infect surfaces if not washed in between usage.  In fact use paper towels which can be thrown away to wipe up the spill or disinfect the surface. Cutting boards, especially wooden ones are harbinger of germs. Make sure your cutting boards are washed with hot soapy water in between use. Beware of cross contamination (e.g. cut your meat and/or poultry on the board, then cut up something else, like vegetables, etc). I strongly suggest you keep two cutting boards, one for meats, poultry and fish and another for fresh fruits and vegetables. Sponges are also a great source of germs. If you desire to re-use your sponges, try microwaving them for about 30 seconds to be sure you've destroyed the germs.
    • In the bathroom disinfect surfaces in your bathroom frequently, especially if someone in the house is ill, with a stomach problems, cold and/or flu. Believe it or not a common place that is often missed when we disinfect is the door knob!
    • Vaccination The single best way to protect your children from the flu is to get them vaccinated each year. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Children commonly need medical care because of influenza, especially if they are less than five (5) years of age. Severe influenza complications are most common in children less than two (2) years of age and children with chronic health problems like asthma and diabetes and disorders of the brain and/or nervous system are at high risk for developing serious flu complications.

TREATMENT (Common Cold)

The common cold is characterized by coughing, sneezing, stuffy and/or runny nose, sore throat, watery eyes, mild headache and body aches. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold. The rhinovirus is the most common. When a runny nose is involved clear mucus is often present. As the body begins to fight the virus, the mucus will turn white. Later, the bacteria that normally lives within the nose will grow back and the mucus will appear green. This is normal! (it's only when that mucus has an odor that cause for concern should be raised). Antibiotics WILL NOT HELP as the cold is caused by a virus and antibiotics are useless when fighting a virus. Antibiotics are needed when it is determined that the symptoms being exhibited by your child and/or loved one is caused by bacteria. This is determined through collection of sputum (swabbing of the nose and/or throat). HOWEVER . . .

DO:

  • See a healthcare provider if the symptoms lasts longer than 10 days
  • Temperature is greater than 100.4°F
  • Symptoms not relieved by over-the-counter (OTC) remedies.
  • Keep children and loves ones hydrated (jello water, water, Pedialyteâ„¢ or electrolyte replacing fluids NO DAIRY if fever is present).

While many over-the-counter cough and cold preparations are not suitable for children, always read the directions and follow the dosing guidelines for children and adults. If there are no guidelines for your child (due to being younger), always contact a healthcare professional for dosing guidelines. KNOW YOUR CHILD'S WEIGHT!

TREATMENT (Influenza or Flu)

Characteristics and symptoms of the Flu are very similar to the common cold. The flu is treated with antiviral drugs. Currently there are two Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved  and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended antivirals used to treat influenza illness. These are Tamiflu® and Relenza®. Tamiflu® is available as a pill and in liquid formulation, while Relenza® is an inhaled powder. Relenza® should not be taken by anyone who has difficulty breathing or any illness characterized by difficult breathing such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), etc.

  • When should antiviral drugs be taken? Studies show that the best results are achieved when flu antiviral drugs are started within one to two days of getting ill. Starting them later is helpful, especially if you already have a high risk condition, e.g. Asthma, blood disorder (e.g. Sickle Cell Anemia), COPD, cystic fibrosis, congenital heart disease, kidney or liver disorders, metabolic disorders, morbid obesity, a weakened immune system (e.g. HIV, AIDS or cancer). Other individuals who are at high risk are, adults over 65 years and pregnant women.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between the two based on symptoms alone. Special tests that are usually done within the first few days are needed to determine which illness you have. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more intense. Colds are milder and are more likely to be accompanied with a runny or stuffy nose. Colds do not generally result in serious health problems such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations.

Hope this helps in keep you healthy this cold & flu season!

This post was originally published at Taylored For You