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January 09, 2013
Battle Back Against Viruses and Safely Help Relieve Kids Symptoms
Loyola University Health System Pediatrician Gives Tips for Fighting Coughs and Colds
MAYWOOD, Ill. – Doctors’ offices are teeming with patients suffering from one of the worst outbreaks of cold and flu season in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that flu is at an elevated level across the nation. Though virus symptoms vary by age, children are especially vulnerable since they are unable to take over-the-counter medications to help alleviate symptoms.
“Cough and cold medications can have serious side effects if taken by young children, including rapid heart rate and convulsions. These medications should never be used by children under the age of 4 and only under a physician’s supervision if under the age of 6,” said Bridget Boyd, MD, pediatrician at Loyola University Health System and assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Without medications, parents can feel helpless. But Dr. Boyd offers some ways parents can safely help relieve their child’s symptoms:
- If a child is 3-12 months old, give warm, clear fluids such as water, apple juice and oral electrolyte solution, such as Pedialyte.
- If a child is 1 year old, give them ½-1 teaspoon of honey. This is a natural cough suppressant and helps thin secretions.
- Children who are older than 6 can use cough drops.
- A warm mist humidifier or exposure to steam from a shower can provide relief to kids of all ages, as well as parents.
“The best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is a flu shot. The vaccine provides protection from three different strains of influenza,” Boyd said. “It is possible for you to become ill with the flu more than once a season, so just because you had the flu doesn’t mean you can’t get sick again."
In addition to the flu shot, correct hand washing is extremely important to stopping the spread of germs. Parents and kids should:
- Wet hands with clean running water and apply soap.
- Rub hands together to make a lather. Be sure to scrub between fingers, under rings and under fingernails.
- Continue to rub for 20 seconds, which is the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song (at a normal speed) from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse hands well under running water and dry using a clean towel or just air dry.
- If it is not possible to wash hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Make sure to rub it into your hands until it’s dry.
Also, try to cough into a tissue. If not possible, cough into your flexed arm at the elbow. This will reduce the spread of germs.
“Remember, antibiotics do not stop or limit viral infections. If you suspect your child has the flu, talk to your pediatrician about medications that lessen the symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness,” Boyd said.
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Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.