Well here we are again. Smack in the middle of cold and flu season. Just a quick scroll through my Facebook feed tells me that a lot of people I know have been hit with one or the other. Overall our family has been lucky so far this year but I know we aren’t out the woods yet, especially since the little one goes to daycare 5 days a week and we all know how bugs like to spread in that environment.
Of course there are a lot of other viruses and infections out there but the cold and the flu are the most common, especially this time of year. The treatment for all of these bugs are essentially the same and there are no quick cures. Getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of fluid and taking steps to reduce the spread of bugs (ie hand washing) are your best weapons. We also have a few essentials that we keep on hand to help us through this season:
Fever Reducing Medication
Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen to treat fevers and aches (never give aspirin to anyone with a fever under the age of 20). There are some medications that can ease cold symptoms for older kids and adults but cold medication should not be given to children under the age of six.
Humidifiers or hanging out in a steamy bathroom can help stuffy noses and dry coughs. Cold bugs also love dry air so keeping the humidity a little higher in the winter can help keep those bugs at bay. We keep one in our daughter’s room and it’s really made a big difference when her asthma flairs up due to a cold or flu bug.
There are plenty of humidifiers out there to chose from. If you have little ones in the house your best bet is to pick a cool mist humidifier to keep things safe. There are also some really cool humidifiers that are designed with kids in mind – like the Vicks Starry Night Cool Mist Humidifier.
The Starry Night Humidifier is perfect to keep in a child’s room – It’s a cool mist humidifier, it runs extremely quiet and the built in projector turns your child’s room into a starry night sky. When you have a stuffy nose, you can also use the Starry Night Humidifier with Vicks VapoPads that release soothing vapours for added comfort.
We always have a supply of freezies in the freezer and ready to use. They are so useful! They are great for soothing sore throats, they can help with fevers and can also help in preventing dehydration. There have been so many times over the years when my daughter has had a nasty bug and this is the only thing I can get into her.
In my opinion a thermometer is a must have. It can help you determine if you are dealing with a cold or the flu (colds will normally only present with a very mild fever, if at all) and also help you know when it’s time to treat a fever. Picking a thermometer can be a bit tricky with so many styles out there. And I always found that even trickier when my daughter was an infant and accuracy was so important. And being able to take a child’s temperature without waking them us is a pretty big bonus as well. Even a good ear thermometer can wake a kid up. Did you know there are actually touchless thermometers now?
The Braun No Touch + Forehead Thermometer actually allows your take accurately take a temperature from up to two inches away (or if you prefer you can also touch it to the forehead). It provides a reading in just two seconds and (this is a feature I love) it displays the temperate on a large easy to read screen. The screen will also help you quickly determine the severity of the fever by using green for no fever, yellow for a slight fever or red for a higher temperature. The last thing a parent wants to do is wake up a sick child, when sleep is the best thing for, them to take their temperature. This thermometer makes that quite a bit easier. No fumbling around trying to get a thermometer in the mouth or under the arm or turning their head to get to an ear and no need to turn on a light in a dark room to read the temperature either.
Ok I know this sounds like a no brainer but having some tissue, and good quality tissue, around during cold and flu season is a must. You don’t want to be wiping your poor red nose with toilet paper because you forgot to stock up on the right stuff! Again there are lots of options here and you probably have a favorite so make sure you pick some up in advance.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Now I’m not sure there is any concrete scientific evidence that chicken soup actually helps with a cold or flu but I think many of us believe it does, even if it’s simply because it’s comfort food. A good bowl of chicken soup can warm us up, soothe a raw throat and can be nourishing if we are having trouble stomaching solid food.
Another must have if you have an infant or very young child at home. A nasal aspirator can help you clear their little nasal passages and let them breathe easier. Again there are a few options, including the old fashion bulb aspirator but my personal preference is any of the ones (and there are a few on the market now) that allows you to actually put a tube in your mouth a suck the snot out of baby’s nose. Yes I know, it sounds gross. But it’s not. Don’t worry you don’t have to actually ingest any boogers and they work like a charm.
Air Purifier (with a HEPA filter)
We have two good quality air purifiers in our house – one of the main floor and one upstairs where the bedrooms are. I have allergies and my daughter has both asthma and allergies so this is, in my opinion, an essential for us. A good air purifier (and it has to have HEPA technology) can be a useful preventative tool to help keep bugs out of the air. And, if you already have a cold or flu, and have allergies or asthma the last thing you need is dust and other pollutants floating around making your symptoms worse.
Knowing the Difference
Although identifying the virus you or someone in your family has might not do much in the way of relieving symptoms they can give you an idea of how long you might be under the weather and what complications to watch for. Colds generally clear up much quicker than the flu and don’t produce much in the way of complications for otherwise healthy people. Gastrointestinal infections (which are often mistakenly called flu) are usually fairly short lived as well but taking care to keep yourself or your little one hydrated is very important. Flu symptoms can last for weeks (especially a cough) and can cause more serious complications (pneumonia, dehydration, heart problems, etc.) especially in kids under six, seniors and those with other health issues.
Your best defence against the cold and the flu is taking care of yourself. But these bugs can hit anyone, even the healthiest of us so being prepared and having a few tips to take care of yourself or your little one’s is important.
What are your best tips or must haves for dealing with a cold or flu?