As the effects of the global pandemic slowly subside, all of us can take a breather from the rigorous measures and tension we’ve been experiencing for almost two years. However, this doesn’t mean we should completely relax and disregard the dangers of other infectious diseases like the flu and colds, especially the ones it poses for our children.
Cold vs Flu
Often mistaken for the common cold, the flu can cause much more serious symptoms and, in some cases, requires medical attention. While the common cold is usually characterized by a runny and stuffy nose, cough and sore throat, the flu can cause body aches, fever, nausea and fatigue, leaving you bedridden for days, even weeks.
Most people recover after a few days to two weeks; however, some develop more serious complications such as ear infections, pneumonia or inflammation of the heart. Some people are at higher risk of getting infected than others, this includes people over the age of 65, people with chronic medical conditions of any age, and especially children younger than 2 years old.
How to Protect Your Child from the Flu
Having experienced its agonizing symptoms at some point in our lives we naturally want to protect our children as much as we can. For starters, wearing sweaters, knitted socks and other warm clothing, while it doesn’t stop your child from getting infected, prevents weakening of the body’s immune system and lowers the chance of developing more serious symptoms.
Here are 4 ways you can make sure your child is protected from the flu this season:
- Choose the right flu medications;
- Vaccinate your child;
- Educate them on the flu’s effects and preventions;
- Don’t forget the home remedies.
What Is the Best Flu Medicine for Children?
Firstly, you need to check in with a doctor to determine whether your child has a viral or bacterial infection. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, and can only do harm if used to treat a viral infection. It’s also worth noting that a lot of flu medicines aren’t suitable for children and can cause them serious side effects if consumed.
Aspirin isn’t suitable for children since it’s linked to a rare disease called Reye’s syndrome. Alternatives for fever and pain relief are acetaminophen or medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen.
Oral Liquids with Natural Ingredients
For chesty coughs, you might need to get a cold and flu oral liquid that’s specified for children. Such a medicine contains natural active ingredients and is generally safe to consume. Some of these ingredients are:
- Licorice root (relieves sore throat);
- Ivy leaf (relieves chesty coughs);
- Japanese honeysuckle flower (relieves sore throat and mild fever);
- Elderflower (acts as a decongestant);
- Echinacea purpurea (helps relieve symptoms of the common cold).
With oral liquids and most medications, it’s important not to exceed the recommended doses and of course, to consult a paediatrician or a pharmacist on side effects and allergens it may contain prior to purchasing the product.
The tiresome symptoms are probably relatively new to your child and may result in irritability. Small children may also refuse to take conventional medicine. In these situations, opting for lozenges is the best choice. With their candy-like appearance and different flavour variations, lozenges are an effective cold flu medicine that your child will love.
Perhaps the most convenient medicine for relieving cold and flu symptoms are the roll-ons. They contain soothing essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint that relieve your child’s congestion and muscle pain. They’re also generally safe for sensitive skin and don’t cause irritation.
Chewable tablets are a great alternative for lozenges – and they also come in different flavours so your child will probably love them. Similarly, cold and flu syrups usually come in flavours, although most of them are for children over 6 years old, so it’s best to consult with your child’s paediatrician before purchasing them.
Vaccinate Your Child
The best way to prevent the infection would be to vaccinate your child and yourself. The flu vaccine is available every year and it’s most effective when taken in September or October, as the flu season begins. It’s a safe and effective vaccine and may prevent serious complications of the infection. There’s a common misconception that it may not be suitable for young children, however, the Australian Department of Health states that every child above 6 months of age is safe to receive it. That said, you still need to consult a paediatrician in case your child is allergic to a certain ingredient in the vaccine.
Education Is Key
The pandemic has shown us how little most of us pay attention to the basic ways of preventing an infection – which are good personal hygiene, social distancing and common sense. Start by teaching your child how to properly and frequently wash their hands, cover their mouth when they sneeze and try to keep a distance from someone who’s sick. Also practice these tips yourself, as children are bound to unconsciously mimic their parents’ behaviors.
We often underestimate how powerful home remedies can be when it comes to treating and preventing an infection. The most important home remedy is rest since this is when our body’s immune system works hardest.
Proper nutrition is also essential for strengthening your child’s immune system. Liquids like tea, fruit juices and soups are very important. The famous bone broth works miracles for relieving congestion and replenishing lost liquids, it’s also soothing for a sore throat. If your child has a fever, try bathing them in lukewarm water and avoid piling on blankets. Lastly, you need to make sure to incorporate enough fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates for strength and lean meats into your child’s diet.
The flu is a serious disease that shouldn’t be overlooked. When it comes to taking flu medicine, doctors advise that it’s best to take it no more than 48h after the first symptoms show – the sooner the better. It’s also important to make sure your child doesn’t have a bacterial infection instead (such as strep throat), in which case your doctor might prescribe antibiotics for treatment.