With the colder weather upon us, winter viruses are making their way through classrooms and the workplace. Here’s some advice on how to manage the highs and lows of the cold and flu season and tips on how to speed healing if you do get sick.
The “highs” – high temps/fever
- Fever is the body’s natural response to a foreign invader (such as a cold/flu virus).
- The definition of fever changes depending on the child’s age (a fever in an infant can be a normal temp for a 4 year old).
- Ear thermometers provide an easy and accurate way to measure temperature in children. New technology allows you to input a child’s age and get results in seconds with colour coded fever indicator to help parents understand the results.
- Treatment: Give extra fluids to prevent dehydration; apply cool compress on forehead (no ice baths).
- Medication is not always necessary. If giving medication adhere to dosage guidelines for weight/age; avoid using aspirin in children.
- Consult with your doctor if your child is less than 6 months old or has other symptoms such as vomiting, rash, difficulty breathing or is lethargic.
The “lows” – low humidity
- In the winter, humidity levels can drop as low as 10% – that is lower than the Sahara desert!
- Dry indoor air can make it difficult to breath when you are sick, worsening symptoms of cough and congestion.
- Using a vaporizer or humidifier can add moisture to the air, reduces the survival of viruses on surfaces and makes breathing easier.
- Essential oils such as eucalyptus or using a Vapopad with your vaporizer can help clear congestion and ease cough.
Symptom Relief and Recovery
- Over the counter medications such as decongestants and antihistamines can help with symptom management but they do not impact recovery. Many of these products are not safe for children and carry the risk of serious side effects. Be aware that some of these products can interact with other medication.
- Echinacea can help shorten the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms and can also be taken preventatively during the winter season. Look for a clinically studied form of Echinacea.
- Elderberry has antiviral properties and can also help alleviate symptoms and speed healing. Both Echinacea and Elderberry are safe for those 2 and above and can be found in a range of formats including liquid, chewables and capsules.
- Vitamin C won’t cure a cold but it does support the immune system and can help to reduce symptom severity. Supplements can help bridge nutritional gaps for picky eaters and replenish levels in those under stress. Look for a formula that contains Ester-C ,which is a buffered form of vitamin C (easy on the stomach) and offers 24 hour immune system support.
- Chicken soup and warm beverages (herbal teas) can also provide soothing relief and nutrients to support recovery.
- Natural honey is great to soothe a sore throat and calm a dry cough.