Answering Your Cold + Flu Questions
Parents have probably never commiserated more with the old adage, “when it rains, it pours” than when they have a sick child at home, a sniffly spouse, or worse: both at the same time.
It seems like every year there comes a time when it’s “that time of the year” and everyone and their mom is battling flu season with determination, hope, well-meaning fervor and a box of tissues. Some just throw in the towel on day one, accept that sickness has overcome them, and grin and bear it until summertime. This February might very well be that time of the year.
Still, it’s up to us to make our little ones feel better when they feel less than 100 percent. Sometimes, Kiddie Academy teachers are the first ones “on the scene” of your child’s oncoming cold. Years of experience has taught us that the best medicine is a little TLC, but we know you have many more questions about how your children keep picking up the germs others are putting down. Here’s our best crack at some of your frequently asked cold and flu questions…
Q: Why does my little one keep getting sick?
A: BabyCenter.com claims there are more than 200 viruses that cause the common cold, and your child can develop immunity to only one of them at a time! As your little one grows, they’re exploring a lot more with their hands, which sometimes make it into the mouth or around the face. It doesn’t take much from there for a virus to pop in and set up shop for a seven to 10-day foothold on your kiddo (and your family).
Q: Why do these colds always pop up in the winter time!?
A: Cold air and indoor heating dry out his nasal membranes, making it easier for a cold virus to get a foothold there, says BabyCenter. Our kiddos are usually spending more time indoors while it’s cold outside in the winter months, making your home the perfect hotbed for contained viruses to easily spread from person to person.
Q: It seems like my kids get a cold every time I turn around. Is this normal!?
A: One medical article cites the common cold as the most common illness in the United States. The article continued to share that the common cold accounts for approximately 22 million missed days of school and 20 million absences from work, including time away from work caring for ill children. WebMD says, “babies and toddlers often have 8 to 10 colds a year before they turn 2 years old.” Another source echoed that finding to say that children under 6 years average roughly six to eight colds per year (up to one per month, September through April), with symptoms lasting an average of 14 days (via UpToDate.com). So, yes, if the frequency at which your family gets colds is in this range, it’s probably normal (but ask your physician to be safe!).
Q: What can I do to cut down on the number of colds our family gets every season??
A: Here are a few of our tips:
Practice Hand Hygiene: This sounds like a no-brainer, but when cold or flu viruses break out in your community or school, no door handle or TV remote is safe. Taking a few extra steps to make sure your hands are clean today can help you prevent seven long days of coughing starting tomorrow.
Homemade Feel-Better Brew: When it comes to getting in the liquids when you feel down, a hot homebrew can be just what the doctor ordered. Try this recipe for “Feel-Better Brew” by Parenting.com:
- 2 cups of water combined with the juice of 1 lemon
- zest from half that lemon
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- an inch of chopped fresh ginger
- honey to taste (for kids over 1)
Bring to a boil, pour through a strainer, and serve with love and attention!
Take comfort knowing that with every cold, your child is building up immunities to make them stronger out in the real world. One study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine suggests that group child care can “benefit the immune system…and the ability to fight infections” once the child is in elementary school. Until then, we empathize with parents who are getting through the “when it rains, it pours” cold and flu season.