These days we have so much information at our fingertips to help solve any parenting dilemma (admittedly, most of the times we may have too much). You could argue the Internet was both the best and worst thing to ever happen to parenting.
Despite the sometimes overwhelming amount of information, it’s still nice to consult a parenting expert once in a while to get some new ideas, advice and even a dose of perspective.
At LiveMom, we want to help answer your questions. We have a recurring feature called Ask the Expert, brought to you by Baylor Scott & White Health, that will take on a wide range of subjects, from potty training to car seats to dealing with kids and technology to anything in between.
Now that we have made it through the first round of back-to-school illnesses, it’s time to get prepared for our not-so-favorite time of year: cold and flu season. With all these germs floating around, what’s a parent to do? That leads us to our question:
What is the best way to prevent and treat winter colds and the flu?
Baylor Scott & White Cedar Park Clinic Pediatrician Goddy Corpuz, M.D. provides Central Texans with some “prevention measures” when battling these common illnesses. First things first: there is a difference between a cold and the flu. Colds are usually signaled by sneezing, congestion and possibly a low-grade fever, while the flu is marked by severe body aches and sudden high fever.
“Sometimes, though, as much as we try to prevent it, you may still catch a cold or get the flu,” says Corpuz. “Many patients request antibiotics. However, colds and flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Therefore, antibiotics are useless in treating them,” he explains. Doctors also advise against overusing medications to relieve symptoms, since they are part of the natural healing process, and evidence that the immune system is battling illness. “A low-grade fever is the body’s way of ‘burning off’ offending germs, and coughing can help clear the lungs of infected secretions,” Corpuz adds.
And contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as the “stomach flu.” Although one out of three people with the flu may have an upset stomach, this is rarely the main symptom of the flu. “This is because the influenza virus affects the respiratory system, not the digestive system,” Corpuz maintains.
The single best “remedy” to prevent the flu is getting a flu vaccine. Other prevention measures include:
- Washing your hands frequently, since most viruses are spread by direct contact
- Avoiding touching your face, since viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth
- Drinking plenty of water
If you start feeling under the weather, should you start taking Vitamin C and zinc, or just stock up on chicken soup? Despite what many people believe, claims that echinacea, ginger and garlic will prevent or help fight a cold or the flu are inconclusive. Furthermore, flu and colds are more common in the winter months because that’s when the viruses spread across the country; it’s not due to cold weather. As far as chicken soup’s magical powers, hot liquids will definitely help to soothe a scratchy throat or cough, but unfortunately, it has no special power to cure. The cornerstones of a fast recovery are simple: rest and plenty of fluids. And, if you suspect you have been exposed to or have the flu, call your doctor immediately.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional, please visit the Scott & White website or call 512-509-0200.
Do you have more questions about colds and flu? Tune in to KLBJ (590 AM/ 99.7 FM) on Sunday, October 25th at 11 a.m. for the Doctor Dan Show. We’ll be on air with Dr. Corpuz talking more about the flu and cold season that’s upon us here in Central Texas.
This post was sponsored by Baylor Scott & White.