By Estelle Sobel Erasmus
It’s that time of year again. Holiday time? No, flu time. And if you got it, than it gives the term “going viral” a whole ‘nother meaning.
Believe it or not, according to my research each year, nearly 25 million people will seek care related to colds and upper respiratory infections. As if those stats aren’t harrowing enough, young children get on an average six to ten colds during winter, and symptoms can last on average for fourteen days (which if you’re like most parents feel as endless as the lines were at Toys ‘R Us on Black Friday).
Here’s my unofficial guide on how to treat, and maybe even beat the most common two bugs that attack you (and) your children. And as an added bonus, you can click on the picture below to get your free coupon for cooling sore throat lozenges.
The Bug: Rhinovirus (and no, this is not a cute animal with horns; although you might feel like one–the not cute variety–after dealing with this beastly bug).
The Crime: The virus (which causes over 50 percent of colds in kids and adults) is spread by coughing, sneezing and hand-to-hand contact. Coughing and sneezing send droplets containing the virus into the air, where its easy to get infected if the droplets come in contact with the mouth, nose, or eyes. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a whopping 52.2 million cases of the common cold affect Americans under 17 every year and nearly 22 million school days are lost annually.
The Time: Symptoms may appear within one to two days of exposure (and as mentioned last as long as two weeks) and include runny nose, congestion, cough, fever, sore throat and a lack of appetite. Congestion can lead to secondary problems like ear and sinus infections.
Avoid the Whine:Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold, so you really just have to treat the symptoms, and use ibuprofen (for children six months and older) and acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) to reduce the fever.
Chicken soup is a great panacea; mainly because it contains a mucus-thinning amino acid called cysteine, and some research shows that chicken soup helps control congestion-causing white cells, called neutrophils. The happy result: an anti-inflammatory effect which can ease swelling in the upper respiratory tract.
The Crime: Like the cold viruses, the influenza virus is spread by coughing and sneezing into the air, as well as by hand-to-hand, mouth, eyes or nose contact. Symptoms range from mild runny nose and congestion with a low-grade fever to severe cases with high fever, shaking chills, severe cough, and muscle aches. You or your child may also get headaches, have a sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and possess a deep rattling cough.
The Time: The flu and accompanying symptoms can last from three days (and lucky you if that’s your situation) to two weeks.
Avoid the Whine: It’s important to treat the pain, control fever and prevent dehydration. unfortunately there is no cure. Most adults and children over the age of six months who are not allergic to eggs can receive a vaccination which targets the three expected infectious strains each year. There is also a nasal vaccination, which because it is a live virus vaccine may cause mild symptoms, and is only indicated for patients over the age of two without a recent history of asthma.
Whatever you do, don’t um, bug your doctor for antibiotics to treat a virus (antibiotics only treat bacteria). It won’t work, and will add to the growth of bacteria that don’t respond to treatment.
Instead, if you have a virus, indulge in some much-needed downtime. And if your child has one, offer your little one some down-home comfort in the form of hugs (for obvious reasons skip the kisses this time around), so you and your whole family can get some much-needed rest.”
Now that’s a prescription for health worth following.
How do you take care of your kids or yourself when a bug comes knocking at your door.