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Your Child Has Summer Sniffles …Is It a Cold or Allergy?

child sneezing during the summerSummer time is the time for fun and family enjoyment. The early and late parts of summer are, however, noticeable for stirring up allergic symptoms due to grass and trees in May and June and such plants as ragweed during August and September. Symptoms such as burning, itching eyes and runny, itchy nose with or without cough are typical symptoms of environmental allergies. There is no fever as this is not an infection. Symptoms of a summer cold however can mimic those of allergy, but usually itching is not a major part.

A cold, or upper respiratory infection, is, as the name implies an infection by viral agents that usually invade through mucus membranes (inside of nose, mouth or eyes), set up shop and multiply to some extent. The multiplication is usually self-limited as the body’s natural defense systems go to work. When the defenses are working, there may be fever, achiness, headache and a variety of other minor symptoms. Allergic symptoms do not usually include the systemic symptoms mentioned above.

Unfortunately sometimes, cold and allergy symptoms occur simultaneously, causing some confusion among parents, patients and Doctors in terms of diagnosis. Sometimes, also, it is impossible to tell them apart even to the most trained eye.

The bottom line is even though there may be no telling them apart, there is no cure for the common cold, and the combined symptoms can be treated similarly.

If a child has known environmental allergy, he/she may be treated with an antihistamine such as Benadryl for short term (4 – 6 hrs) or Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra for long term (once or twice every 24hrs) for the symptoms; no response may indicate a cold and not allergy, while the concurrent symptoms of fever, achiness, headache and others may strengthen the diagnosis of a cold.

Certainly it is worthwhile to use a humidifier in his or her room to moisten irritated mucous membranes, drink plenty of fluids, and use Tylenol or Advil in the appropriate dosages for poorly tolerated symptoms. Important to note that controlling fever with the use of these medications is not necessary unless your child is very uncomfortable. Using these medications will not get rid of the fever in the long run, but it will make him or her feel more comfortable in the short term. The fever, remember, is there because the body is fighting off the infection and therefore is a relatively good sign in a healthy child. The fever will persist until the cleansing process is finished.

Time for Colds and The Flu: What Can You & Your Family Do?

All the bugs and bacteria that plague human kind are essentially trapped indoors over the cold winter months: windows seldom get opened and cars are sealed shut with the heat on, schools harbor a variety of illnesses and are also sealed shut with temperatures way too high. It’s no wonder that this is a perfect season to share whatever cold or Flu with your closest neighbor. Young children, especially, are not the poster kids for hygiene, and touching and tasting the environment gives infants and toddlers a window on the world. Illnesses that get started in your child can spread rapidly to all members of the family.

Children Flu Sneeze Elbow SickViral infections and Flu are composed of minute particles that are just waiting for an opportunity to invade the next host. The easiest way to gain entry to the human body is through the mucous membranes that we all have – moist skin that you seldom think about; inside your nose, throat, lining your eyeballs, etc. Once they gain entry they invade normal cells and begin to replicate, reproducing themselves and in so doing, alter or kill the host cells. Whichever cells are involved and how your body reacts to the invasion will dictate the symptoms that you will experience. Most invasions are short lived and most for the purposes of this post are in the respiratory tract, upper (nose and throat) and lower (trachea and lungs).

How to cure a “cold” has been a mystery for scientists forever, but since they are short lived and generally do not produce major problems it has never been worth the resources to attempt multiple and complicated testing to nail down a cure. So viral colds live on and disrupt many lifestyles along the way. The favorite medicines in the world to attempt to cure just about anything are antibiotics, but to do so will not only have no effect on the cold but can cause problems of their own – resistances by bacteria to the antibiotic and reactions to that medicine. So we are left with “taking care” of the cold with various simple measures. Over the counter cold medicines have been shown to have very little effect on the symptoms or length of a cold and also have unwanted side effects.

How to prevent a cold or Flu, or viral illness from spreading is the main issue. Since these particles gain entry through mucus membranes, and are usually carried to that area by contact with your own colonized hands, it is very important to wash hands regularly and completely. Too often this is a cursory act of applying soap and washing it off, but scrubbing the hands for about 20 seconds (enough time to sing “Happy Birthday” twice) is usually necessary to do an adequate job. Avoid touching your face as most mucus membranes are in that area, especially your eyes. Of course the group that is most important (children) is not usually compliant with these issues, so you must teach this at home. Spread can also occur by droplets pushed into the air by coughing and sneezing and then transferred to others on your hands. Sneeze into the inside of your elbow and avoid spreading droplets into the air around you.

Unfortunately simple apparent cures, taking extra vitamins, etc. have been shown to have very little if any effect on a cold.

So, bear with it, it will be over soon, and do your best not to share it with anyone. And remember to get Flu immunization for your entire family (age six months and older) as soon as it comes out on the market, and since some Flu seasons can last into April get that Flu vaccine even in early March if you missed it at the end of last year.

Beyond Flu What Illness Should You Watch Your Child For

Children’s colds

It’s normal for a child to have 8 or more colds a year.

This is because there are hundreds of different cold viruses and young children have no immunity to any of them as they’ve never had them before.

They gradually build up immunity and get fewer colds. Most colds get better in 5 to 7 days.

Here are some suggestions on how to ease the symptoms in your child:

  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids.
  • Saline nose drops can help loosen dried snot and relieve a stuffy nose. Ask your pharmacist, GP (*physician) or health visitor about them.
  • If your child has a fever, pain or discomfort, children’s paracetamol (*acetaminophen) or ibuprofen can help. Children with asthma may not be able to take ibuprofen, so check with your pharmacist, GP or health visitor first. Always follow the instructions on the packet.
  • Encourage the whole family to wash their hands regularly to stop the cold spreading.

Cough and cold remedies for children

Children under 6 shouldn’t have over-the-counter cough and cold remedies, including decongestants (medicines to clear a blocked nose), unless advised by a GP or pharmacist.

Children’s sore throats

Sore throats are often caused by viral illnesses such as colds or flu.

Your child’s throat may be dry and sore for a day or two before a cold starts. You can give them paracetamol or ibuprofen to reduce the pain.

Most sore throats clear up on their own after a few days. If your child has a sore throat for more than 4 days, a high temperature and is generally unwell or unable to swallow fluids or saliva, see your GP.

Children’s coughs

  • Children often cough when they have a cold because of mucus trickling down the back of the throat.
  • If your child is feeding, drinking, eating and breathing normally and there’s no wheezing, a cough isn’t usually anything to worry about.
  • If your child has a bad cough that won’t go away, see your GP. If your child also has a high temperature and is breathless, they may have a chest infection.
  • If this is caused by bacteria rather than a virus, your GP will prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection. Antibiotics won’t soothe or stop the cough straight away.
  • If a cough continues for a long time, especially if it’s worse at night or is brought on by your child running about, it could be a sign of asthma.
  • Some children with asthma also have a wheeze or breathlessness. If your child has any of these symptoms, take them to the GP.
  • If your child seems to be having trouble breathing, contact your GP, even if it’s the middle of the night.
  • Although it’s upsetting to hear your child cough, coughing helps clear away phlegm from the chest or mucus from the back of the throat.
  • If your child is over the age of 1, try a warm drink of lemon and honey.

Find out more about coughs.

Croup

A child with croup has a distinctive barking cough and will make a harsh sound, known as stridor, when they breathe in. They may also have a runny nose, sore throat and high temperature.

Croup can usually be diagnosed by a GP and treated at home. But if your child’s symptoms are severe and they’re finding it difficult to breathe, take them to the nearest hospital’s accident and emergency (A&E) department (*ER).

Read more about the symptoms of croup.

Children’s ear infections

Ear infections are common in babies and small children. They often follow a cold and sometimes cause a high temperature. A baby or toddler may pull or rub at an ear.

Other possible symptoms include fever, irritability, crying, difficulty feeding, restlessness at night and a cough.

If your child has earache, with or without fever, you can give them paracetamol or ibuprofen at the recommended dose. Try one first and, if it doesn’t work, you can try giving the other one.

Don’t put any oil, eardrops or cotton buds into your child’s ear unless your GP (*physician) advises you to do so.

Most ear infections are caused by viruses, which can’t be treated with antibiotics. They’ll just get better by themselves, usually within about 3 days.

After an ear infection, your child may have a problem hearing for 2 to 6 weeks. If the problem lasts for any longer than this, ask your GP for advice.

Find out more about ear infection (otitis media).

Glue ear in children

Repeated middle ear infections (otitis media) may lead to glue ear (otitis media with effusion), where sticky fluid builds up and can affect your child’s hearing. This may lead to unclear speech or behavioural problems.

If you smoke, your child is more likely to develop glue ear and will get better more slowly. Your GP can give you advice on treating glue ear.

See glue ear for further information.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

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From www.nhs.uk





Winter is Coming: What You Need to Know About Kids and Colds

Young children get colds quite often because their immune system is still developing.

It can be worrying when your child gets a cold, but it’s not usually serious and normally passes within two weeks.

Below are the answers to some commonly asked questions about colds in children.

Is my child’s cold serious?

Colds aren’t usually serious, although young children are at an increased risk of developing further problems, such as ear infections.

Very occasionally, more serious problems such as pneumonia can develop, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your child.

Read more about spotting signs of serious illness in children.

What is the difference between adult and child colds?

  • Children tend to get colds far more often than adults.
  • The symptoms are generally similar in adults and children, including a blocked or runny nose, sneezing and a high temperature (fever).
  • Most colds in children get better on their own without treatment, although they may take a little bit longer to recover than an adult would.
  • Sometimes it may seem as though you child has had a cold for a very long time, when in fact they’ve had several different minor infections with a short recovery time in between.

When should I see a doctor?

You should seek medical advice if:

  • your child is under three months old and has a temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above, or is between three and six months old and has a temperature of 39C (102.2F) or above
  • their symptoms last more than three weeks
  • they seem to be getting worse rather than better
  • they have chest pain or are coughing up bloodstained phlegm – this could be a sign of a bacterial chest infection that needs treatment with antibiotics
  • they’re finding it difficult to breathe – seek medical help immediately from your GP surgery or local hospital
  • they have, or seem to have, severe earache (babies with earache often rub their ears and seem irritable) as they could have an ear infection that may need antibiotic treatment
  • they have a persistent or severely sore throat – they may have bacterial tonsillitis, which needs antibiotic treatment
  • they develop any other worrying symptoms

Why won’t my doctor prescribe antibiotics?

Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Colds are caused by viruses, so do not respond to antibiotics.

The overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, where bacterial infections become less easily treatable.

Your doctor is likely to prescribe antibiotics only if your child has developed a bacterial infection in addition to their cold.

What can I do to help my child?

The following tips may help your child cope with the symptoms of a cold:

  • encourage your child to rest and make sure they drink plenty of fluids – water is fine, but warm drinks can be soothing
  • if they have a blocked nose, you can make their breathing easier by raising the pillow end of your child’s bed or cot by putting books or bricks under the legs, or placing a pillow under the mattress (although you shouldn’t put anything under the mattress of a baby younger than one year old)
  • liquid paracetamol (*acetaminophen) or ibuprofen can help ease a fever and discomfort – check the dosage instructions on the packaging and never give aspirin to children under the age of 16
  • a warm, moist atmosphere can ease breathing if your child has a blocked nose – take your child into the bathroom and run a hot bath or shower, or use a vaporiser to humidify the air
  • keep the room aired and at a comfortable temperature, and don’t let your child get too hot – cover them with a lightweight sheet, for example

Speak to your pharmacist or GP (*pediatrician) for advice if you’re not sure how to look after your child or what medications are suitable for them to take.

More advice and information

You can find more detailed information and advice about looking after your child in the NHS Choices pregnancy and baby guide.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

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From www.nhs.uk

Parents, 5 Fun Facts About Colds: Bet 3 Surprise You

Some surprising facts about colds, including what causes symptoms such as a blocked nose, and why mucus turns thick and yellow.

1. Cold viruses don’t make us feel ill

“It’s your own immune system response that makes you feel ill,” says Professor Ron Eccles of the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff, where experts have researched the common cold for more than 20 years. When you get a cold, the virus attacks the nose and the back of the throat, and it doesn’t take long for the body’s natural defences to start to work.

“The immune system detects the virus and floods the area with white blood cells and chemical messengers, and these trigger various symptoms such as headaches and a blocked nose.”

2. A blocked nose is due to swollen erectile tissue

“During a cold, the lining of your nose is the battlefront,” says Professor Eccles. When your nose feels blocked it isn’t because it’s full of mucus, but because the blood vessels in your nose are inflamed.

The nasal lining is made from erectile tissue (similar to the tissue in the sexual organs). When you have a cold, the blood vessels swell up as infection-fighting white blood cells flood to the area. This narrows the air passage in your nose and restricts the airflow as you breathe.

A decongestant spray can reduce the swelling and allow you to breathe more easily.

3. You can catch a cold through your eyes

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of mucus into the air, or into their hand if they use their hand to cover their mouth. If you get these droplets on your hand (for example, by shaking hands or touching contaminated objects such as doorknobs), you can pass them into your eyes or nose when you touch them.

Most of us touch our eyes and nose more often than we realise. A duct links the eyes and the nasal cavity, and the virus travels easily from the eye to the nose and throat, where it can cause infection. You can help to avoid being infected by washing your hands thoroughly.

4. Women get more colds than men

“Women have more colds than men, and this is probably due to increased interaction with children,” says Professor Eccles. Children get around seven to ten colds a year, compared with two to three for adults. So people who spend a lot of time with children, such as childminders, nursery teachers or school teachers, are more likely to pick up the viruses.

5. Yellow mucus is caused by white blood cells

When your immune system is fighting a cold virus, one of the first symptoms is clear, runny mucus from the nose. As the cold develops, mucus usually becomes thicker and yellow, then green. White blood cells cause this change in colour and texture as they flood to the nasal area and increase in number as the cold progresses.

“Many people think that yellow or green mucus is caused by bacteria, but this isn’t the case,” says Professor Eccles. “It’s because there are billions of white blood cells in the mucus.”

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From www.nhs.uk

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Coughy Cup

Imagine a coffee cup that’s not for coffee and it has no bottom. It’s my latest invention. I turned a coffee cup into a cup for coughing and sneezing. It’s called a Coughy Cup as in coughing cup. It’s a play on words but hardly child’s play.

Coughy_Cup in UseThe Coughy Cup looks like a standard Starbucks’ paper coffee cup with a plastic lid but it’s the inside that matters most. The Coughy Cup captures, contains, filters and kills 99.9% of germs and viruses. This means the germs and viruses stay in the cup and not in the air, on your hands, body or others. How? By using an antiviral and the same face mask filters used by doctors during surgery.

My name is John Delatorre. I was once a TV weatherman for ABC in Sacramento, California, Corpus Christ, Texas, El Paso, Texas and a few other cities. I spent much of my time visiting schools teaching kids weather and encouraging them to stay in school and away from drugs. Today I’ve taken on a whole new role in my efforts to help children.

A few months ago, my wife and I were watching Shark Tank; the ABC reality show. Out of the blue, my wife says to me, “You need to invent something to help children.” My initial reaction was to say it’s not easy to think of things to invent and that it takes time. My next response gave way to its creation. I told her that I would pray about it and see what God had to say. I did not pray at that moment nor later that night but 24 hours later I did. My wife was out of town that night so before I went to sleep I closed my eyes and my exact words were, ‘Okay God. You heard her. What do you got?’ A half second later I pictured two words; Coughy Cup. I immediately knew what it would be. There was no doubt in my mind. I was blown away. I was sure God had blessed me with an amazing gift. That night I began my research and the next day I started writing my fifth patent application. When my wife returned the next day, she agreed God had given me a great idea.

My initial reaction was to draw up every crazy complicated cup I could think of. Thank goodness that thought process didn’t last long. I quickly understood that I had to manufacture each cup for as little as possible and I had to be sure my cups would be socially acceptable. So, what is the cheapest form of a coffee cup? Paper, right?

Paper coffee cups and plastic lids can be made for pennies and people are very comfortable walking around holding them. They’re seen everywhere from meetings to work and play. I also understood that the name Coughy Cup easily described how the cup should be used so that was a huge advantage.

Cough_Cup_Lid-photoWith this new knowledge, I set out to design a common coffee cup with a plastic lid. The only difference would be my cup would have no bottom, a bunch of holes in the lid and a filter. But, the cup was the easy part. The key to the success of the Coughy Cup would be the filter or as I like to call it, Coughy filter.

My journey began with understanding how to avoid germs and viruses. I found myself studying how surgical face masks worked. I knew there were a lot of face masks; some better than others. I soon found out that some materials used in face masks make breathing more difficult. My filters had to make breathing easy.

Consider what it’s like to cough. You expend a tremendous amount of air after each cough and immediately your body requires you to inhale deeply. The breathability of my Coughy filters makes it easy to inhale after each cough.

It also turns out the best face mask filter has a bacterial filtration efficiency of 99.9% and a particle filtration efficiency of 99.9%. But I didn’t want to only trap the bacteria. I wanted to kill it too. I knew other products were killing 99.9% of germs & viruses. So, I figured I’d find a way to apply this same technology to my cups. I am happy to say I found a solution, one that will remain a secret for now.

Soon after, I introduced the cups to the world of social media using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and launched two sites of my own: www.CoughyCup.com and http://coughyt.wordpress.com. The response to the Coughy Cup has been amazing! In a few short weeks, thousands of teachers, parents, doctors, nurses and even Howie Mandel are following my work and appear to be my greatest advocates and why not? They know germs and viruses better than most.

So now the word is out! One of the first questions I often get is people wondering whether I expect them to walk around coughing into a cup. The question always makes me chuckle. You can certainly use my cups while walking around but that’s not how I expect people to use them. My cups are primarily for confined areas where people are expected to sit for long periods of time. Places like schools, school buses, airplanes, daycare centers, nursing homes, prisons, doctors’ waiting rooms and hospitals.

coughy_cup_with tissue dispenserImagine you’re on a road trip and someone in the vehicle gets sick? Would you prefer they be given a Coughy Cup to reduce the chance of others in the vehicle getting sick? Imagine you’re on a plane and the person next to you can’t stop coughing. Would you prefer the flight attendant hand the passenger a Coughy Cup? I’ve had people tell me they plan to buy my cups to give away to anyone around them who start coughing and sneezing.

My primary goal is to first get my cups into the hands of young school children. They represent a major line of defense in battling the spread of germs and viruses. If my cups can help reduce germs & viruses in schools, that means fewer kids and teachers missing school and healthier parents who don’t miss work.

Studies show that, on average, 40 percent of teachers in New Jersey’s Camden City Public Schools are taking sick days compared to only 3% absenteeism among the average American worker.

I believe the CDC will one day consider the Coughy Cup to be a huge help in so many ways. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are constantly seeking ways to better understand, treat and ultimately prevent infectious diseases. The numbers of people affected in the U.S. alone are staggering.

  • The average child can catch between 6 to 12 colds every year.
  • Colds cause children to miss 22 million days of school every year.
  • More than 1 billion colds and more than 30 million flu cases occur every year.
  • Almost 1 million people have died related to influenza in the U.S. in the last 30 years.

Ultimately, I would like to see a dishwasher-safe, reusable Coughy Cup in every child’s book bag. Teachers would be able to use the cups as a way of instructing children to perform one common behavior and a way to monitor who’s sick in their classrooms.

They would always have their cup at the ready. The shelf life of my Coughy filters is more than two years and they’re in air tight sealed envelopes. The child would simply take the filter out of the envelope, snap it to the lid, place the lid on the cup and cough or sneeze. It’s that simple.

So what’s my plan for getting my cups into schools? I’m hoping to recruit the help of pharmaceutical companies, cough syrup manufacturers and the makers of tissues. It’s a win/win. They get good PR and the kids get free cups.

I also hope to convince the airline industry to offer my cups to their passengers, especially international passengers. Consider the Middle East virus. The bird flu is only a plane ride away. The U.S. government is very concerned about the likelihood of a pandemic flu. It’s why they are stockpiling needles and syringes to be shipped to 10 receiving stations throughout the U.S. The purchase order can be viewed on their FedBizOpps.gov website.

But getting the cups into the hands of children and airline passengers unfortunately won’t be possible this flu season because I still have a lot of paperwork to do. Believe it or not, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider the Coughy Cup to be a medical device. The FDA requires what they call Pre-Market Approval. This means any claims I make (i.e., kills 99.9% of germs & viruses) must pass an FDA evaluation before I can sell my cups. It’s a whole lot of government paperwork and a min of $9,500 to get there.

Still, I have no doubt the FDA will certify my cups. The Coughy Cup might sound too good to be true but it’s not because the science and technology works. In the end I expect the Coughy Cup to be by far my most successful invention.

Coughy_Cup sloganThat success may include winning the right to sit on the shelves at Wal-Mart and Target. I recently entered Wal-Mart’s “Get on the Shelf” and Target’s Simplicity Challenge contests.

  • Wal-Mart gives Facebook users a chance to vote for which products they like best. I am happy to say my Coughy Cup made it through round two. Get additional information here
  • Target’s contest is just getting underway. Target is using doctors and healthcare industry experts as judges. The winner gets $25,000 and a chance to partner with Target. Details can be found here

If all goes as planned, the Coughy Cup should begin showing up in schools and airplanes by next cold and flu season. I believe once people begin seeing the Coughy Cup in use, it will become better understood and more socially acceptable.

So, pass the cup not the germs, because NOT sharing is caring.

HEALTHFUL HINTS

I. Tips to Avoid Germs

  • Don’t put personal items like backpacks, book bags, books, coats or similar items on the floor, especially public restroom floors or on kitchen counters or tables at home as this may further spread germs.
  • Leave your phone in your bag or pocket when entering restrooms either at home or public.
  • Try not to multitask (i.e., talking on phone, working on computer) when cooking. This could spread germs from one surface to another
  • Children should never share food in school, especially during cold and flu season. If it’s necessary to share books, remember to never touch any portion of your face until you wash your hands and even then try to not touch your face.

II. Cold vs. Flu

  • Colds usually go away on their own in 3 to 5 days.
  • Colds are usually contagious in the first 3 days.
  • A cough that last more than 5 days may be a sign of a sinus infection or pneumonia.
  • Pay serious attention to a cough that lasts more than 7 days. A chest x-ray may be needed.
  • If a cold does not go away after 7 days, your child may have a bacterial infection and need an antibiotic.
  • Cold and flu symptoms can mimic one another but the common cold rarely includes a temperature over 101 degrees.
  • If your child’s fever is over 101 degrees, keep him home. A fever is a sign your child is fighting an infection.
  • The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends giving a child plenty of fluids and increasing the humidity in the room as the best way to relieve a child’s cough. Hydrate with popsicles, watered-down juice, flat ginger ale and chicken soup. Open a stuffy nose with 2 to 3 drops of saline solution in each nostril.
  • Don’t worry about a child’s daytime cough. Coughing helps dislodge phlegm and reduce congestion.
  • Persistent coughing, especially at night can be a sign of asthma.
  • Honey has been shown to be a natural way to soothe a cough. The risk of botulism makes honey unsafe for children under one.
  • A coughing child having difficulty inhaling may be a sign of whooping cough (pertussis).
  • Rest may be the best medicine to prevent sickness but a sick child needs even more sleep. Normal sleep for children is 8 to 12 hours every night.

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Editor’s Note: Pediatric Safety readers were first introduced to Coughy Cup in September, 2013. John is continuing to develop and sell his product, with a folding cup due out soon. Check out his Facebook and Twitter page for updates.

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