As winter progresses it is not surprising that we are seeing an increase in the number of children showing signs of cold and flu. These illnesses are far more common in babies and young children. Most of us catch around 200 doses of the cold in our lifetime. About 8-10 of these will happen in the first couple of years of our lives, so it is good to understand how catching a cold will affect your child.
As well as being more prone to catching colds, younger children’s symptoms tend to be more severe. They will seem more unwell than an adult would and it is more likely to be accompanied by a fever. This is not really surprising as their immune systems are still developing.
Which medication is best?
Many children don’t need any medication if their symptoms are mild. If they need something to make them more comfortable, a paediatric version of paracetamol ibuprofen can be given. A nasal spray or decongestant drops can help if they are feeling stuffed up. For children aged 12 months and over a simple home remedy such as honey and lemon can also be soothing.
Plenty of Rest
There is generally no need for the child to be in bed unless they are very tired and need to sleep. Plenty of rest in addition to a good night’s sleep will help to get them on the mend. An afternoon nap and some quiet play might as well as trying to maintain normal bedtime routines should give them the rest they need.
Food and drink
It is normal to lose your appetite when you are ill. However, make sure your child does not become dehydrated. Offer plenty of drinks, including water and fruit juices that contain vitamin C. If they will eat a little, a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal can be a good option to provide some extra nutrients.
Iced lollys can be soothing, especially if they have a sore throat. If possible make your own by freezing juice to give them a boost of vitamin C
Home or School?
This all depends on how your child feels and how severe their symptoms are. If they are over the worse you might feel it is fine to send them in. If they have a fever, a bad cough or just still seem uncomfortable it might be best to keep them off a little longer.
How to prevent colds
The simple answer is you can’t. Catching a cold is part of life although fortunately the frequency and severity reduces as they get older. However, if they are run down and not getting enough sleep they will be more susceptible to colds. Good hygiene also plays an important role in stopping the spread of colds to others including other family members. Thorough hand washing is extra important when your child has a cold. And make sure they a fresh hankie to stop coughs and sneezes spreading germs.