December 2014 – January 2015
Tis the Season for holiday parties, Christmas caroling, and shopping madness. Unfortunately, it is also the season for coughing, sneezing, and pockets full of Kleenex. The average child may have eight to twelve colds per year, many of which occur during the winter months. Aside from placing our children in protective bubbles (which let’s face it, we have all considered at times) what can we do to help get our kids through this time of year as unscathed as possible? Unless you want to fully commit to boarding up the house and hibernating for the season, there are some simpler things you can do to help. Hopefully, we can help decrease the chances of our children waking up on Christmas morning with something other than their favorite toy from Santa.
Good hand washing, as simple as it sounds, is a great place to start, as well as limiting how much our children are touching their faces. When coughing and sneezing, try doing so in the crook of the arm to limit the exposure of gems on hands. Good nutrition is also important. If you put good in, you get good out, so be sure that amidst the Christmas cookies, you still try to get in five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, drinking plenty of water, and taking a good multivitamin. Sleep is another important aspect of staying healthy. While routines are often disrupted this time of year with the hustle and bustle of the season, the ideal sleep time is a minimum of eight hours to sleep per night. Sleep is a time for resting and recuperating and prevents putting increased stress. While there is little data to support that not wearing a jacket and hat will lead to pneumonia (sorry Nana), it is still important to bundle up to help decrease the stress on the body.
Will all these things help prevent every cold? Of course not, but even if our children get sick in spite of all these things, they will at least be clean, getting a healthy diet, and well rested. The next questions become, “when do you worry?” and “when is it more than just a cold?” If your child has had a cough and/or runny nose for more than two weeks, or if they start with a late onset fever (meaning they start with the cold symptoms and then after a few days start with a fever) they should be seen to rule out something more, like an ear infection, sinus infection, or pneumonia. If your child also spikes a high fever or the fever progresses for more than five days, they should also be seen. Watching for changes in eating and sleeping habits can also be a useful hint on whether or not a child should be seen, as often ear infections can cause frequent nighttime awakenings. Lastly, listen to your gut. As a firm believer in mother’s intuition (as well as father’s intuition for all you daddies out there) anytime you are worried that it may be more than a typical cold, feel free to schedule an appointment. Sometimes just having them checked out is comforting – while your beautiful children are our number one priorities, we also have to take care of our mommas and daddies, and if checking ears before a flight to visit Grandpappy gives you reassurance, it’s worth the co-pay!
So, until there are any updates on personal bubble machines, keep washing those hands and eating and sleeping like you should, and if you need us, give us a ring. That’s what we are here for!
Written by Sarah Trezza, PA