Cold and Flu Season

January 20th 2012

sick babyAs I'm sure you've noticed cold and flu season is upon us. Colds turn into ear infections, chest, throat, eye, and sinus infections. Ear infections and etc turn into doctor visits. And doctor visits turn into loss of money and work. Not to mention, the heartache and worry that comes along with a sick loved one. A definite challenge for families. In plain terms, in order for your child not to get sick he or she needs to not come in contact with another who is sick. In a daycare setting this is near impossible. In the past we have tried to lesson this exposer by sending those with bad cold symptoms home. However, as you are aware children get colds a lot, so this became a burden to parents who had to constantly miss work. Furthermore, sometimes if we were to send all the children home who had bad cold symptoms we would literally have no children to watch. Basically, there is no way to make everyone happy in regards to these situations. Some parents have more leeway with work and would prefer that all children (including their own) stay home when sick with cold. Others have less leeway in regards to missed work and therefore, understandable so, get very frustrated if their children are excluded from daycare because of cold symptoms. The "general" consciences amongst daycare providers (both centers and home based) is that it's impractical to exclude kids with colds because they quite literally have a cold 50% of the year. This is a basic all or nothing situation. It only takes one child with a cold to infect everyone. Because each family handles sicknesses and time off work differently there is no one size fits all and you will never get everyone to handle colds the same.

The "ONLY" way to prevent colds from spreading amongst the group is to exclude each child with a cold from daycare until symptoms are completely gone. Regardless of what you've read our experience says colds are contagious for as long as the child has one. Colds are supposed to take about a week to run its course. But in children I'd say the average is more like 10 days or more. As you can see making everyone stay home for periods of 10 days 50% of the year is impractical at best. And quit frankly, I don't think we'd have very many clients left if we mandated such a rule. This plain fact severely ties our hands in these matters as we do not want to bite the hand that feeds us. So... when your child gets sick, not if, don't blame the provider, because we are all in the same boat. Literally! Trust me, we too prefer to take care of well children. But we also fully understand that colds come with the territory. The silver lining here is that colds are self limiting. It's really only a continual problem till about age 3. After which time your child's immune system will adapt and he or she will only get colds a few times a year like the rest of us. Colds are an inevitable nuisance no doubt. But I believe they serve a purpose. It's natures way of taking our immune system to the gym and working it out, keeping it fit, and keeping it prepared, ever vigilant, for the more sinister of viruses.

In healthy adults colds usually just run their course and that's that. But in young children they often have a tendency to turn into more worrysome sicknesses. In our experience when colds manifest into something worse, 99% of the time its one of the following predictable infections. When it's a head or sinus cold the ones with the weaker immune systems amongst the group will develop pink eye and ear infections. When it's a cold that predominates in the throat area it can turn into strep throat or croup. And when it's a chest cold it can turn into pneumonia, bronchitis, RSV, or just a never ending congested cough. It's important to note that usually its the initial cold which is contagious and not the end infection. The end infection, or lack thereof, is often times the result of a suppressed immune system, or in this case, a non fully developed immune system, and not that of the resulting end infection. This is a common confusion amongst parents and another reason why these common infections are hard to keep from spreading. The following suggestions are the remedies that we have found most beneficial in treating these common cold complications.

Ear infections: Most know the answer to this one. Antibiotics are the clear choice to treat these. Antibiotics are relatively new to us but ear infections are not. Ear infections will usually run their course without complication in usually 7-10 days with out intervention. But they are painful for the child and intervention is the preferred choice. Once on antibiotics the infection will abate quickly. Most children stop getting constant ear infections by age two.

Pink eye: Again antibiotics are the preferred treatment. But this time in a topical eye dropper or ointment. Make sure you put the drops in both eyes and for the full time period your doctor suggests otherwise the infection will only return. Putting drops in young children's eyes is not the easiest thing in the world. We suggest you lay your child down on their back >> if they know what's coming they will close their eyes >> place two drops in the corner of each closed eye >> gently blow on their face until they open their eyes >> the drops will then seep in the eye.

Croup: Croup is merely a symptom of our bodies immune reaction. It occurs when we get certain strains of colds our wind pipe inflames and narrows. This usually does not cause a problem. But in infants their trachea is so narrow/small to begin with any closure of this area can affect breathing and characteristically gives off that seal bark. This can be a very scary thing. So it's best to catch it at first sign. As soon as you hear that bark go to the doc and have them give you a cortosteriod (typically Prednisone). This essentially turns off your child's immune response to the cold and the trachea quickly returns to normal. This drug can have a big stimulating effect so best taken well before bed time.

Chest congestion/coughs: Normally these will just run their course. One of the reasons children's chest congestion lasts for so long as compared to adults is because they don't fully cough up the mucus and rid the infection. If your child is old enough to do so encourage them to fully cough it up. Albuterol (by prescription) works well to help rid the congestion. Albuterol is in a class of medications called bronchodilators. It works by relaxing and opening the air passages to the lungs. Albuterol is a stimulant so don't give close to bed time. Additionally, guaifenesin (over the counter) can also be given to help break up the mucus in order to make it easier to cough up and rid from the lungs.

We give our own children Multidophilus made by Solaray daily. This is healthy bacteria that lives in the digestive tract and is a very healthy way to keep children's immune system fired up. Additionally, at first signs of sickness, we will give them colostrum (from cows). Colostrum is the substance that comes out of mothers breast in high amounts in the first few days following birth and continues to be produced in a lesser amounts for as long as the mother breast feeds. This substance prevents infants from getting sick. Thanks to modern technology this immune booster can be harnessed for a life time. Note though, if you take it daily ones immune system will just depress to match. So it is better to take colostrum only at onset of sickness. Often times these supplements won't prevent your child from becoming sick but at the very least they will help to prevent a simple cold from turning into something worse. « Back to Blog