Common Colds, Common Myths, And Common Sense

There seem to be two peak times when children wind up with colds - at the beginning of the school year and after the Christmas holidays. The reason? Its quite simple, in fact. It is at these times that children are exposed to new viruses. Most often it is other children, family or friends that carry the virus and then pass it to your youngsters.

During the fall and winter seasons, children are more often indoors rather then outdoors. Close confinement with many others may increase your child's chance of picking up the virus. Sneezing, coughing, and sharing kitchen utencils, cups, bottles, or food are common ways viruses spread amongst preschoolers.

In Search of a Cure

Can we prevent the common cold? Is there a cure? When scientists and health care professionals were asked these questions, they were generally in agreement about two things.

   1. Colds can be prevented; and
   2. there is no known cure for the common cold.

Here is a sample of common myths and facts about the common cold.

"If you take Vitamin C each day, you'll keep colds away."

Research has proven that the Vitamin C does not prevent colds. However, some studies have shown that Vitamin C may actually help people weather colds better. When your child has a cold, oranges, grapefruits and juices with Vitamin C added, may reduce the severity and length of the cold. Drinking lots of water and eating soups are good ideas, too.

"If you have a cold, don't drink causes mucus."

While there is little evidence to support the belief that milk causes mucus, we do know that viral infections themselves often result in the production of mucus. Besides mucus, other common cold symptoms include tiredness, irritability and poor appetite. To speed up recovery from a cold, it is important to get your child's eating pattern back on track. Choosing nutrient dense foods, like milk, is important when kids don't want to eat or drink much. Your child may find milk easier to swallow if it is heated (hot chocolate) or added to other favorite foods like soups and pudding.

"If you go outside with wet hair, you'll catch a cold.

Colds are caused by viruses. There is no need to restrict activities like swimming. Make sure children dry their heads before going outside because they can lose body heat, especially with cooler winter temperatures.

Things You Can do to Prevent a Cold

    * Remind children to wash their hands after they use the toilet, before they prepare or eat food and after they wipe their nose.
    * Remind children not to share food or drinks, cutlery, dishes, bottles or cups.
    * Protect your child against secondhand smoke; This has been shown to increase the risk for complications of colds.

Things You Can Do When Your Child Has A Cold

    * Remind children to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing and to wash their hands afterwards, especially before rubbing their eyes.
    * Encourage children to use a tissue (instead of their sleeve). Be sure the tissue goes in the garbage right away.
    * Make sure that your child is drinking lots of fluids. Water is a must. Try serving 100% juice, milk or soup.
    * If your child isn't hungry, try to serve energy-packed foods like scrambled eggs, hot cereals, cream soups, ice cream and homemade puddings. Try to get your child's eating habits back on track as soon a possible.

More serious infections can follow a cold. Call your Doctor if your child has any of these signs:

    * Persistent or high fever
    * Rash
    * Fast breathing or has trouble breathing
    * A cough that will not go away
    * Excessive crabbiness or more crying than usual
    * Excessive tiredness
    * Ear ache

Keep your child at home if she or he is not well. Check with your child care provider for details about when to keep your child at home.

"Food Fair For Child Care", Winter 1996 Insert.  B.C. Ministry of Health and Ministry Responsible for Seniors

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