The Common Cold

It's always a GOOD IDEA to be proactive about the common cold!  Here are some good reminders on what a cold is, and how to cope with it.

As we approach Cold and Flu season, parents are already frantically washing their kid’s hands.  We yell at them to NOT touch ANYTHING in the public washrooms.  It’s like a plague, and we just want to stay away from any sort of sickness.

Not only do we feel sorry for our little ones when they catch cold, or worse stomach flu, but we also have to worry about ourselves.  First off, if we get sick, how are we to care for our loved ones?  And secondly, if we get sick, how are we ever going to take time off of work?! 

The Calgary Health Region gives out pamphlets year round to help us understand The Common Cold
1.) What is a cold? 
The cold is an illness caused by a virus.  There are over 100 different cold viruses.  Colds can occur any time of the year. 

2.) How is a cold spread? 
A cold can be spread when someone who is sick coughs or sneezes tiny drops into the air or onto objects.  People who breathe in or are in direct contact with these drops (example: by touching their nose or eyes with contaminated hands) can get the disease.
This is why we try to teach children to cough or sneeze into their elbows!

3.) How long does a cold last?
A cold usually lasts about 7 to 10 days.  It can be spread to other people one day before, and up to 5 days after symptoms appear. 

4.) How is a cold treated?
Antibiotics DO NOT help a cold, because it is caused by a virus, not bacteria.  There is no specific treatment for a cold, but to ease symptoms you can eat healthy foods and drink lots of water, juice and warm liquids, rest, gargle with salt water to help throat pain, take pain or fever medicine as needed (ASA products such as Aspirin are not recommended for children) and use a cool-mist vaporizer. 

5.) When do you go see a doctor for a cold?
When you have a fever for more than 2 days.  See below for a guide on *Normal temperatures.
If a child is under 3 months who has a fever.
If there is pain on one or both ears (small children may tug on their ears when they have pain)
If you have trouble breathing or pain in your chest.
If you have a very painful and red throat

6.) How can a cold be prevented? 
            Wash your hands
            Keep your hands away from your nose and eyes
            Don’t share drinks, cups, spoon or forks with a person who is sick
            Maintain a healthy and active lifestyle

For more information call the Health Link 403-943-LINK (5465), 1-866-408-LINK or Communicable Disease Control at 403-944-7075

This is actual information taken from The Calgary Health Region pamphlet given to me from the Alberta’s Children’s Hospital.  (This material is designed for information purposes only.  It should not be used in place of medical advice, instruction and/or treatment.  If you have specific questions, please consult your doctor or appropriate health care professional. 

*Temperature Guide for children:

Fever is one way your child’s body fights an infection.  The most common illness in children is infection from a virus.  There are thousands of different viruses.  Fever can also be caused by an infection with bacteria.  Fever itself will not harm your child.  How high the fever is does NOT tell you how serious your child’s illness is.  How your child acts is a better sign.  Normal temperatures* in children are:
·        Rectal: 36.6 - 38.0 °C (97.9 – 100.4 °F)
·        Mouth: 35.5 - 37.5 °C (95.9 - 99.5 °F)
·        Underarm: 34.7 – 37.3 °C (94.5 – 99.1 °F)
·        Infants under 60 days: 36.3 – 37.3 °C (97.3 – 99.1 °F)
·        Ear: 35.8 – 38.0 °C (96.4 – 100.4 °F) (not recommended in infants)
                        *Canadian Pediatric Society
A baby less than 3 months old with a fever needs to be seen by a doctor. 

Calgary Heath Region Link – Caring for a child with a fever          
Calgary Health Region Link – The Common Cold 
Alberta Health Services Link - http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/

Christina Rowsell ~ September 2011

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