Parents in Action: Beating the flu

When a child gets sick parents usually worry even over the smallest things. And at this time of year, as the cooler temperatures start to settle in Tampa, you or your kids might start to feel a little tickle in your throat. Although this is usually the first sign of a cold or the flu, the good news is that these illnesses generally run their course within a week or so with a little TLC from mom and dad.

Treating the common cold or the flu is much simpler than you might think. Here are some helpful ways to help your kids beat the flu this winter.

Misconceptions
Parents usually worry when their children have signs of a fever, fearing it might be something more serious than a cold. But you should know that a fever, although not enjoyable for your kids, is actually a good and helpful sign. It means that their immune system is trying to fight off an infection.

Another misunderstanding some people have is that a runny nose is a sign of a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics. While getting cold or the flu will cause your kids to get a runny nose it's important to remember that there is no cure for the common cold or the flu. That means the antibiotics won't help at all.

Treating
The first step is making sure that your child is comfortable. This will help tremendously. Make sure that they are drinking plenty of fluids especially if your child has a fever. If your infants and small children has a runny nose try using saline drops. Older kids can use saline nasal rinses. Using saline will also help reduce coughing significantly.

If your child begins to develop new symptoms, gets worse or runs a fever higher than 104 degrees this is generally a sign that a cold or flu has progressed into an ear infection or something more serious like pneumonia. At this point you should contact their pediatrician who will provide treatment usually geared toward improving the symptoms. You can also ask your pediatrician about antiviral agents although the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) only recommends using these agents for kids who've been hospitalized or those who have a risk of complications from the flu.

Prevention
The best way to avoid getting sick is to make sure your kids are carefully hand washing throughout the day (at home and at school). Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as this is the most common way germs spread.

Dr. Charles A. Welborn, medical director for After Hours Pediatrics, suggests that your family get vaccinated as the seasonal flu vaccine has a very good safety track record. But he does suggest that you consult with your primary care provider for further information on the vaccine and whether your family should get it.
Remember that your family doctor can help you decide the best treatment for you and your family. Before taking any steps or purchasing any over the counter medication consult them first.

Sources
TBParenting.com
ParentingWithAngela.com
AfterHoursPediatrics.com
WebMD.com
CDC.gov

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