My son has been sick for a week. It’s the usual winter “yuck” – stuffy nose, hacking cough, sore throat. I’ve kept him home for the past few days to try and help him get over his cold, and to try and prevent him from getting the ear infection or sinus infection that invariably follows.
No matter how much we fight against it (frequent hand-washing, flu shots, drinking our orange juice), I’ve yet to win the battle and get through cold and flu season without someone (and most often everyone) in our household getting sick. So, if you’ve followed all of the stay-healthy rules and still find yourself home sick (or you find yourself home with a sick child), here are some tips to get everyone healthy and back to daycare/school/work:
First, know what you are dealing with. Is it a cold or the flu? Body aches, headaches, and fever will accompany the flu, while a cold is nasal and chest congestion, and perhaps a sore throat and sneezing. A cold comes on gradually, while the flu tends to hit fast. Also, a vaccine exists for the flu, but not for the common cold. Once you have a cold or flu, there isn’t much you can do except rest, treat your symptoms with over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers, and let the virus run its course.
That’s where we are – the “letting it run its course” part. My son is a miserable patient – he’s cranky, he insists that he has an infection, strep throat, the plague – and I can’t get him to take anything. He says he can’t swallow pills and liquid medicine “tastes bad.” So I have a whining, stuffy, tissue-covered kid to deal with. If you find yourself in a similar boat, try coming up with some activities to help take your child’s mind off his discomfort. Kids don’t like to stay in bed, especially younger children, so find some quiet games to play or books to read together. Also, most pediatricians don’t recommend cough medicine for younger children – know what you can give your child and what you shouldn’t.
I’ve been having the “should he go to the doctor or shouldn’t he” internal debate today. He doesn’t have a fever and he is eating and sleeping normally, so I’m leaning toward no — there isn’t much a doctor can do for a cold, so we’re playing the “wait and see” game. If you aren’t sure, this handy chart will help you decide. It may be more difficult to decide when it’s your baby – this quiz may help — but above all, trust your instincts.
While you are home, follow your grandmother’s lead and make a hearty chicken soup – it isn’t just an old wives’ tale – it really does work. Once you are in the kitchen, try making some other comfort foods. They may not improve your cold symptoms, but comfort food has a way of making everything better (right, grandma?).