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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.

My Child Has Cold Symptoms: Is He Contagious? Need a Doctor?

boy with winter coldWe are entering the season with the cold weather and children gathering in groups in school that cold symptoms are very common. But what distinguishes a cold from an allergy and when you should seek medical care for your children are topics of concern for many parents. Is he/she contagious? Should I send my child to school with these symptoms? When do I bring him/her to the Pediatrician? All good questions.

Let’s deal with the last question first. The symptoms that appear with colds and allergy are indeed very similar. There are some exceptions to common thoughts about these problems.

Allergic symptoms appear for the most part during the “shoulder” seasons – Spring and Fall, when there are allergens in the air either from growing and pollinating in the spring or debris from blowing leaves, etc. in the fall. As those leaves fall they become wet and can also produce molds which can act as allergens for certain children. Allergic symptoms are usually of a prolonged and recurrent pattern and similar to colds, and can produce sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, cough, runny nose with itching and other “cold” symptoms. No matter what the cause, this situation is not contagious and your child can go to school with all the other children with the same symptoms. This condition may respond to antihistamines such as Benadryl, Claritin, Allegra or Zyrtec.

Colds on the other hand generally have a predictable life span of 5 to 10 days, and cold symptoms follow a predictable pattern of sore throat (scratchy) for 1 – 2 days, followed by sneezing and runny nose followed in rapid order by cough to one degree or another. There can be fever of any degree during this time and also does not mean another infection. Antihistamines and over the counter cold medicines are generally ineffective and especially cold preparations can have undesirable side effects. The color of the mucous during this time is insignificant as it will usually start as clear and watery and will end with green or yellow mucous – this does not imply another infection or sinus problems. If these symptoms last more than 2 -3 weeks, or fever persists beyond the acute phase of the cold you should bring your child to his/her pediatrician for evaluation. If your child is acting very sick, regardless of the presence of fever, he should be seen by his Doctor.

Usually your child will be contagious for about 1-2 days prior to the illness (you, of course, will not be aware of this) until 1-2 days beyond the onset of fever (as long as it returns to normal) and, of course should be held out of school until no fever for 24 hrs.

If you are considering taking your child to family parties over this holiday season, use the criteria mentioned to return to school as a guide. If one of the relatives has an underlying immunologic dysfunction; cancer, cancer treatment, long term use of steroids, etc. this may require further preventative measures and your relative should consult his/her Doctor.

This is a very common issue and you, as parents, should be aware of the differences and significance of these situations mentioned above.

Can I Give My Child Painkillers?

Cough Medicine and KidsBoth paracetamol (known as acetaminophen or Tylenol in the US*) and ibuprofen are safe and effective painkillers for children. However, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct dose. If you’re not sure, get advice from your pharmacist, GP (pediatrician*) or health visitor.

Medicines aren’t always needed for childhood illnesses. Most illnesses get better by themselves, and make your child stronger and able to resist similar illnesses in the future.

Always keep medicines stored in a safe place at home.

Paracetamol for Children

Paracetamol (acetaminophen*) can be given to children aged over two months to relieve pain and reduce fever (high temperature). Make sure you’ve got the right strength for your child. Overdosing is dangerous. Check with your pharmacist when you buy it and read the label carefully.

Ibuprofen for Children

Ibuprofen can be given to relieve pain and reduce fever in children aged three months and over who weigh more than 5kg (11lbs). Check the correct dose for your child’s age. Avoid ibuprofen if your child has asthma, unless advised by your GP (pediatrician*).

Don’t use Aspirin

Never give aspirin to children under 16 unless it’s specifically prescribed by a doctor. It has been linked with a rare but dangerous illness called Reye’s syndrome.

Giving your Child Paracetamol or Ibuprofen

Liquid paracetamol (acetaminophen*) and ibuprofen are available for babies and younger children. Older children may be able to swallow paracetamol or ibuprofen tablets with plenty of water.

Soluble paracetamol tablets that dissolve in water are also available. You can get ibuprofen powder that dissolves in water, but this is only suitable for children over 12.

It is important to:

  • Make sure you know how much medicine to give your child and how often to give it
  • Always follow the instructions on the label to make sure you give your child the correct dose for their age and weight
  • Never give the medicine more often than your GP (pediatrician*) or pharmacist recommends, and don’t take any more than the stated dose

Remember to keep all medicines out of the reach of children and out of their sight, if possible.

For more information, including when to get medical advice, see:

Read the answers to more questions about children’s medicines.

Further information:

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

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