The common cold: What helps and what doesn't
Fall is here and winter is just around the corner, which means common cold season! In times before COVID, we could expect a healthy kid under six years old to have 6-8 colds per year. But this year is anything but typical. With increased social distancing and masking, experts predict a decrease in common cold infections. Still, most of us can’t stay in a quarantine bubble forever and kids aren’t the best at avoiding germs. It’s important to understand what works and what alluring remedies are not proven to be effective. Since the common cold and COVID-19 can present with similar symptoms, it’s extra important to be alert this season.
- Wash your hands. Handwashing is an effective, easy way to prevent transmission of respiratory viruses. Lather up soap and water for at least 20 seconds OR use hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- Get your flu shot. There is no vaccine for the common cold, but the flu shot can help prevent influenza and its severe complications. Yearly influenza immunization is recommended for everyone six months and older.
- Disinfectant. De-contaminate high-touch surfaces (toys, phones, door-knobs) with anti-bacterial ingredients.
- Mask up. Protect yourself and others from the unexpected cough or sneeze. Masks can be worn safely by children 2 years and older. Children under 2 should not wear a face covering due to suffocation risk.
Many families wonder about natural remedies to help boost their kids’ immune systems. Unfortunately, most products marketed for common cold in children are not proven to make a difference compared to nothing at all.
What to use if your child gets sick:
- Thermometer. Use a simple digital thermometer that can be used in the mouth, armpit, and rectum. A true fever is 100.4F or higher.
- Children’s tylenol (acetaminophen) and ibuprofen. Effective fever-reducers and treating overall discomfort and inflammation.
- Suction device. A basic bulb syringe will work for easy-to-access boogers, but when if you have a young baby and his/her first cold hits, you’ll want to be prepared with the FridaBaby NoseFrida to remove deeper nasal secretions out to help your baby breathe better. Make sure you have saline spray/drops on hand to help loosen the thick mucus prior to suctioning.
- Honey. For kids older than one year, we recommend giving a spoonful of honey before bedtime to reduce cough frequency and severity. Warning: due to infant botulism, never give honey to a child younger than 1 year.
- Fluids. We lose bodily fluids through our skin (sweat) and nasal secretions when sick. Our young ones are especially at risk of dehydration. Children 6 months and older should drink plenty of water to stay hydrated when sick. Younger babies should focus on more frequent but smaller feeds to maintain hydration.
And if you have questions or concerns, call your provider’s office.
CDC. Handwashing. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed: September 3, 2020,
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