Shooing Away Sickness this Winter

 

A few weeks ago, I found myself interacting with a toddler. We were having a great time as this little one mixed us up a pretend soup using of course a plastic bucket with some chalk inside. Soon this pretend soup turned into a magic potion. As we were mixing the potion and talking about all its magical ingredients, a quick and sudden, “AHCHOO” hit me right in the face. I couldn’t help but giggle after the incident happened. After all, this kiddo did the best they could to catch this sneeze in their arm, but the sneeze was too powerful. My heart melted when this little one explained, “I’m not feeling so good.” Though I’m not a doctor, it appeared this kiddo had what many children get at this time of year, the common cold.

We have all had a cold at some point in our life. Usually when this virus comes to visit, we only want to stay in our cozy pajamas in the comfort of our own bed. Even though adults might not get a cold that often, parents may feel like their children come down with colds all the time. If you’re a parent and you feel this way, pediatricians tell us there is a good reason for this. The American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) (2018) and the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) (2016) both share that children might get as many as 8 to 10 colds in just one year before a child turns 2. That’s a lot of sniffles! You might be wondering, why do young children get SO MANY colds? I was also curious to find out the answer to this question, so I went looking for some information about the common cold.

As I researched, I learned that the common cold is a virus that is caused by germs (CPS, 2016). I also learned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2017), that there are more than 200 different strands of the cold virus. This is why children get colds so often. It turns out, once a child catches a cold, they build an immunity to the germ that caused the cold. Since children are very young, it takes them longer to build an immunity to this many different strands of the cold virus, meaning they get sick with colds more often (CPS, 2016). I know this is not such great news for parents with infants and toddlers, but pediatricians reassure parents as children grow older, they typically get fewer colds (CPS, 2016).

Even though parents of infants and young children might feel relieved to learn that there may be fewer sniffles in their futures, I still wanted to spend some time discussing another illness that parents with young children often worry about. It’s called Respiratory Syncytial Virus, better known as RSV (Jones, 2018). I have heard about this virus for quite some time, but I still wanted to find more information about what this virus is and how it impacts infants and young children.

According to the CPS (2015) and Jones (2018), almost every child will have RSV at least once before they turn 2 years of age. I was surprised to learn this fact as I didn’t realize how common RSV was among children. As I did more research, I learned that RSV can present like a mild cold for many children. However, symptoms can sometimes include wheezing and difficulty breathing, while this virus can lead to Bronchiolitis (swelling of the small airways in the lungs) or Pneumonia (CPS, 2015; CDC, 2018; Jones, 2018). After learning this information, it became clearer why some infants and young children can become very ill with RSV (Jones, 2018). As I took in all this information about the common cold and RSV, I couldn’t help but wonder about the steps parents can take to prevent both of these illnesses. The good news is, there are some things parents can do for their infants and young children to help prevent them from getting sick.

Tips for Preventing the Common Cold and/or RSV

  • Wash your hands and your children’s hands often (This is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of germs.)
  • Limit your infant’s exposure to anyone who has a cold
  • If possible, breastfeed your child. (Breast milk contains antibodies that can help prevent and fight illness.)
  • Help children learn how to cover their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze
  • Avoid exposing children to cigarette smoke

(APA, 2018; CPS, 2016; CPS, 2017; CPS, 2015; CDC, 2018; Jones, 2018)

I hope that you find these tips helpful in preventing illness this winter. If you are someone who works with children and uses our Growing Great Kids Curriculum, please know that there are also some subsections that can guide you in addition to these tips. When working with families who are interested in preventing illness in their homes, please consider completing the subsections below:

Growing Great Kids Birth-12 Months Manual

0-3 Months: Module 1 Basic Care…When Baby is Sick or Needs Health Care

4-6 Months: Module 1 Basic Care…Keeping Your Baby Healthy

4-6 Months: Module 1 Basic Care…Body Builders Daily Do Introduction

10-12 Months: Module 1…Keeping Your Baby Healthy

Growing Great Kids 13 to 24 Months

13-15 Months Module 1 Basic Care…Body Builders Daily Do

13-15 Months Module 1 Basic Care…Routine and Responsive Health Care

Growing Great Kids 25-36 Months

25-30 Months: Module 1 Basic Care…Growing Healthy Kids

Thanks for stopping by to check out our January blog. I wish you a happy new year and hope that you will swing by next month to check out our special topic for February!

 

 

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2018, April 09). Children in colds. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/Children-and-Colds.aspx

Canadian Paediatric Society. (2016, February). Colds in children. Retrieved from  https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/colds_in_children

Canadian Paediatric Society. (2017, November). Handwashing for parents and children. Retrieved from https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/handwashing

Canadian Paediatric Society. (2015, July). RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus). Retrieved from ttps://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/respiratory_syncytial_virus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, September 26). Common cold and runny nose. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for- patients/common-illnesses/colds.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, June 26). Respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, December 06). Wash your hands. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/index.html

Jones, A. N. (2018, December 06). RSV: When it’s more than just a cold. Retrieved from  https://healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/RSVWhen-Its-More-Than-Just-a-Cold.aspx

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