Coping with colds, sniffles & sneezes in your home.

As the weather changes, it can be difficult to keep our children from getting sick. Cold and flu viruses can spread like wildfire through homes and schools during autumn and winter and there’s no way to guarantee your child will avoid the bugs. With most common cold viruses, the contagious period is generally before symptoms develop, so it’s often hard to avoid the germs! Don’t give up without a fight, keep these handy ideas in mind when caring for your family’s wellbeing:

Healthy habits

Regular hand washing is the simplest, most effective way to get rid of cold and flu bugs. Teach your child to wash their hands with soap and warm water after using the toilet, before meals and snacks and after school, the playground and friends’ houses.

Sick days

It’s a good idea to keep your children home from school when they’re sick. Most schools require children with a fever, the flu, an upper respiratory infection, vomiting, diarrhoea, an eye infection or a contagious rash to stay home until these symptoms subside.

Eat, sleep and play well

Offer your child a variety of healthy foods so they get the nutrients they need. Make sure they get plenty of sleep each night, along with plenty of physical activity and fresh air every day.

When sickness hits

School-aged children can average six to eight colds a year so it’s highly likely your child will bring home a few bugs this season. When it happens, make them as comfortable as possible until they’re better and remember the ‘4R’s’ of coughs & colds:

  • Rest: The more your child gets, the sooner they’ll recover. Encourage relaxing activities like reading, videos, puzzles, drawing or a quiet game.
  • Rehydrate: Children lose body fluid quickly when sick, so encourage them to drink water, juice, electrolyte solutions or milk.
  • Relieve: If your child is really ouchy or uncomfortable, give him or her paracetamol, such as Pamol®. Paracetamol is the recommended first line medicine for relief from pain and fever in children1.
  • Review: While most cold and flu viruses clear up within several days, some can turn into more serious conditions that require prompt treatment. If you are concerned about your child’s health, contact your healthcare professional for advice.

Snuggle time

When children are under the weather, they need extra TLC, so make time for cuddles. Cozy up and watch a video together, give plenty of hugs and if you normally have a "no kids in the big bed" rule at night, think about temporarily relaxing the policy.

The big picture

When taking care of a sick, miserable child, try to remember that most illnesses pass in a week or so and may ultimately help strengthen your child's immune system. As your child gets older and builds up immunity to viruses, they’ll clock up fewer sick days. In the meantime, keep up the hand washing and hugs, and stock up on tissues!

References: 1. Avoiding medication errors in children: a practical guide for healthcare professionals. BPJ issue 29, Jul 2010. PAMOL® for the treatment of child pain and fever. Always read the label and use as directed. Incorrect use can be harmful. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. ® Registered Trademark. Aspen Pharmacare C/- Healthcare Logistics, Auckland, TAPS PP6389.