Cold weather is here and along with it physicians always see an increase in respiratory illnesses. The whole world’s focus is on COVID-19 but other diseases cannot be ignored. Children are indoors more and the close environment means that respiratory illness spreads more effectively. Most seasonal respiratory illnesses are contagious and can spread throughout a family, daycare center, or school classroom. You can minimize the risk to your child by insuring they are up to date on vaccines and by practicing good hand washing techniques, and teaching your child to use them too.
Good Hand Washing Techniques
Although hand sanitizer is great in an emergency, it is always best to wash your hands with soap and water.
- Wet your hands with running water
- Apply soap
- Lather your hands for at least 20 seconds. Don’t forget to pay attention to the area between each finger, the backs of your hands, and under your fingernails.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dryer.
Winter Respiratory Illnesses
With the onset of cold weather, children are more prone to respiratory illnesses. Talk to your pediatrician in advance to clarify when your child should be seen.
Common Cold – The common cold can be caused by over 200 viruses. It is transmitted from person-to-person through the air or by contact with surfaces where germs reside and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Symptoms include; a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion, mild dry cough, possible low grade fever.
RSV-Respiratory Syncytial Virus – Many of the same symptoms as cold and flu but is more prevalent that flu. RSV can lead to more severe illness (bronchitis and pneumonia) in babies under one year of age.
Influenza (Flu) – Similar symptoms but more severe than those seen with the common cold. Symptoms include; runny nose, nasal congestion, fever with chills, body aches, Extreme weakness and a feeling of exhaustion, stomach ache and vomiting
Sinusitis – Usually follows a common cold. Viral infections cause the mucous membranes in the respiratory passages to swell and produce extra mucous. The sinuses have difficulty draining and mucous builds up making a warm, moist area, a favorite medium for germs to grow. The symptoms are similar to that of the cold, although more severe. Also included is pain in the sinuses, fever over 102°F, green or yellow nasal discharge.