Once the winter months set in, it seems there’s always some sort of “bug” going around school. Between colds, flu, strep and other common illnesses, kids are lucky to escape this season without coming down with something. But if they do get sick, what should you do? These tips will help parents and caregivers see kids through the illness and get them back on the way to health.
Treating a Fever. Not every fever needs treatment. Fevers are part of how the body fights off infection. The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) says that if your child is eating and sleeping well, and has periods of playfulness, he or she probably doesn’t need any treatment. But consult with your child’s doctor to find out what’s best in each case. The AAP has these tips for taking care of a child with a fever:
• Keep his room and your home comfortably cool, and dress him lightly.
• Encourage her to drink extra fluid such as water, diluted fruit juices or commercially prepared oral electrolyte solutions.
• If the fever is a symptom of a highly contagious disease such as chickenpox or the flu, keep your child away from other children, elderly people, and people whose immune systems are compromised.
Treating Colds and Flu. While it’s tempting to seek medicinal treatment for every ailment, there is no cure for the cold or flu, and antibiotics don’t work on the viruses that cause colds and flu. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says that headaches, muscle aches, sore throats and some fevers can be treated with pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Be sure you give the correct dose according to his or her age and weight.
• Cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children, especially those younger than two.
• Make sure your child rests and drinks plenty of fluids.
• A humidifier can help moisten the air in your child’s bedroom and will help with nasal congestion.
Medicating Children. When a doctor does prescribe an antibiotic or antiviral medication, there are several important things to be aware of. The AAP recommends finishing all prescribed doses of an antibiotic, even if the child starts to feel better soon. They also recommend:
• Sticking with the schedule – don’t skip doses and ask the doctor what to do if a dose isn’t given on time.
• Giving the right amount – Never give a child more medicine because you think it might work better or faster. It could do more harm than good.
• Don’t try to hide the medicine – If a child hates the taste of the medicine, or tries to spit it out, it might be tempting to try to hide it in milk or food. But this could affect how well the medicine works, so do not do this unless specifically directed by your child’s doctor.
For liquid prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that your child does hate the taste of, pharmacies can add Flavorx flavors to improve the taste. There are 15 to 20 flavors to choose from, including bubblegum, grape, strawberry and watermelon. Giving kids the power of choice when it comes to the taste of their medicine really makes a difference. The flavoring service is available at 40,000 major chain pharmacies across the country. Go to www.flavorx.com/locator to find one near you.
If your child is prescribed medication in pill form, there are ways to help the medicine go down. A flavored spray such as Pill Glide helps medications, vitamins and supplements go down without giving kids a stuck-in-the-throat feeling. It is available in grape and strawberry flavors and can be found in several national chain pharmacies. Find out more about both products at www.flavorx.com.