Posts Tagged ‘cold’

Colds and pregnancy

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

resting pregnant womanYou know the symptoms—a runny nose, sore throat, stuffy head, coughing, and congestion. Catching a cold while you are pregnant won’t hurt you or your baby, but it can be very annoying and make you uncomfortable.

The common cold is a viral infection that is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, and contact with another infected individual.

During pregnancy you may be more likely to catch a cold. When you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to illnesses as it was before pregnancy. Your body knows that pregnancy is OK and that it shouldn’t reject your baby. So, your body naturally lowers the immune system’s ability to protect you and respond to illnesses so that it can welcome your growing baby. But a lowered immune system means you’re more likely to catch viruses like colds and the flu (one of the many reasons it is so important to get your flu shot).

Preventing a cold

The best way to prevent a cold is by practicing good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Don’t share eating utensils.

Treating a cold during pregnancy

Unfortunately there is no cure for a cold. Antibiotics will not help because they do not work on viruses. If you are thinking about taking an over-the-counter medication to treat any cold symptoms, make sure you talk to your health care provider first. Not all medications are safe to use during pregnancy.

If you are under the weather, getting lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids will help you to feel better. Some other ideas include:

  • Saline nasal drops to loosen mucus;
  • Using a humidifier in your room to help reduce congestion (but be sure you follow the instructions to keep it clean);
  • Drinking warm decaffeinated tea with lemon or honey to help relieve a sore throat;
  • Raising your head when you are resting to help you breathe better.

Most colds last 7-10 days. Make sure you call your doctor if you have one or more of the following signs:

  • A fever over 100.4F;
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days or are severe or unusual;
  • Signs and symptoms of the flu; or
  • Uncontrollable, violent coughing that makes it hard to breathe. This may be a sign of pertussis or whooping cough. Make sure you get your Tdap vaccine at 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy.

Is it an allergy or a cold?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

blowing a child's noseWhen cold symptoms last more than a week or two, or develop about the same time every year, it may be due to an allergy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, (AAP). Typical cold symptoms accompanied by an itchy throat, eyes, ears, mouth or skin are usually signs of an allergy. Other allergy symptoms may include coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing, as well as rashes, hives and an upset stomach.

I know that allergies are no fun. Runny nose, itchy eyes, feeling like a marshmallow has invaded my head – these are a few of the annoying things that plague me at this time every year. In my case, I know I am allergic to pollen, grass and trees. Going outside can be a challenge (especially if I insist on breathing). Carrying a tissue pack everywhere I go is an absolute MUST for me. I have learned to live with my allergies and can tell the difference between when my symptoms are due to an allergy or a cold.

When your child has any of these symptoms, how do you know if it is a cold or an allergy?

To know for sure if it is an allergy or not, let your child’s pediatrician determine the cause of the symptoms. He may be able to tell in just one visit, or he may recommend that you take your child to a pediatric allergist (a doctor with advanced training in allergy and asthma). To make the most of your visit, try keeping a diary of your child’s symptoms, along with factors such as where you were (eg. a home with a cat or outside on the grass). Also, keep track of issues such as lack of concentration or attention. The more information you can give your child’s health care provider, the easier it will be to determine if your child’s symptoms are due to an allergy or not.

If it is an allergy, the doctor may recommend medications that can make your child more comfortable. Usually, some lifestyle changes can help, too.

What can help keep allergies at bay?

The AAP suggests:
• if your child is allergic to pollen, keep him indoors in the early morning when pollen levels are at their highest
• bathe your pet frequently to keep him from spreading pollen around your home
• keep windows closed, especially at night, and run your air conditioner to help remove allergens
• do not let your pet sleep in your child’s bedroom.

In addition, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has a section on their website that guides you through allergy symptoms, types, and treatments. It includes info on managing allergies at home, school, and the importance of knowing triggers.

What happens if allergies are severe?

In some cases, a child may have an allergy severe enough to warrant carrying an EpiPen, a pen-like inject-able needle that provides epinephrine (a hormone) to halt an allergic reaction. In other cases, allergy shots (immunotherapy) may be suggested, to gradually desensitize your child to the allergen, and lessen symptoms. Your child’s health care provider will be able to evaluate him and make specific recommendations.

Allergies can affect your child’s life in a negative way, so early and continued monitoring of his symptoms by you and his health care provider will help to give him the best outcome possible.

See other topics on how to help your child, here.


Baby it’s cold outside!

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

sled ridingIt seems like most of the country is or has been in the deep freeze for the past several days and frostbite abounds. I know we are expecting a blizzard later today, through the night and into tomorrow. Looks like many of us may be facing our first snow day of the season.

Playing in the snow will be tempting and fun, but keep your eye on the temperature and the wind. It’s important to remember that even though the sun may be shining, the temperature, especially if it’s windy, can quickly freeze little faces, fingers and toes.

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing. It is most commonly seen on ears, checks, nose, chin, fingers and toes. When it’s really cold, your body pulls its heat source, the blood, more to your core in order to keep your heart and lungs warm. That leaves your extremities with less circulating heat and, therefore, more vulnerable to freezing. Children are more likely than adults to get frostbite because they lose heat from their body faster.

It doesn’t take long to get frostbite. If it’s a windy day, skin can freeze even when the temperature outside is above freezing. If the windchill factor is below -20 degrees F, skin can freeze in just one minute!

At the first sign or redness or pain in the skin, get out of the cold. If the skin is numb, takes on a white or grayish-yellow color, or feels unusually firm or waxy, call your health care provider. Do not rub the area as you could damage the skin further. Try rewarming it with warm, not hot, water.

Protect yourself. When you and your tots go out to play this winter, safeguard yourselves by wearing loose-fitting layers of clothes. Loose-fitting layers insulate better than ones that are tight. Your outer layer should be wind resistant and water repellent. And don’t forget insulated boots, a hat with ear flaps, scarf and mittens.

Whooping cough on the rise

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

coughingWhooping cough, also called pertussis, is on the rise, even among people who have been vaccinated. In the past year, cases in California have increased seven-fold, with 2,774 confirmed cases. Outbreaks have also occurred in New York, South Carolina and Michigan.

No one really knows why the disease is increasing, but we do know that the vaccine is not 100% effecive. If whooping cough is circulating in a community, it’s possible for a vaccinated person to get the disease.

The effectieness of the vaccine fades over time. So adolescents and adults may need to be revaccinated; check with your health care provider.

Because some of the symptoms of whooping cough are similar to a cold, it may take a while for a person to realize it’s more than a cold. But after 1-2 weeks, severe coughing begins.   

Infants and children who have the disease cough often and violently; they inhale with a loud “whooping sound.” Whooping cough is most severe in babies.

To learn more, go to the Sounds of Pertussis Web site. The U.S  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has helpful information.

PediaCare cough and cold medicines recalled

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Four types of Pediacare cough and cold medicines for children have been recalled. The recall is a precaution. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently found problems at the plant where the medicines were made.

Products recalled include PediaCare Multi-Symptom Cold, PediaCare Long-Acting Cough, PediaCare Decongestent, and PediaCare Allergy and Cold medicines. If you have any of these products in your home, stop using them.

A reminder: Do not give over-the-counter cough and cold products to infants and children younger than 4 years of age. According to the FDA, these products can have serious and life-threatening side effects. For more information about colds and young children, read the March of Dimes article.

Using kitchen spoons to measure out liquid medicine

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

silverware-tray1It’s quick and easy. Reach in the kitchen drawer and pull out a teaspoon or tablespoon. Then pour the medicine in. I’ve done it; have you?

But according to new research from Cornell University, there could be a problem.  It’s easy to make a mistake and pour out either too much or too little medicine.

In the study, researchers first gave 195 people a teaspoon and asked them to pour a teasoon full of liquid cold medicine into the spoon. So they knew how much 1 teaspoon looked like. The researchers then asked the people in the study to pour 1 teaspoon of medicine into a medium-sized spoon and an even larger spoon.

With the medium-sized spoon, people tended to pour too little. With the larger spoon, too much. Looks can deceive.

What’s the bottom line? Be sure to use the correct-sized spoon or container when pouring liquid medicine for yourself and your family. Don’t guestimate.

Recall: Vicks Dayquil Cold & Flu Liquicaps

Monday, December 21st, 2009

dayquil-24Procter & Gamble has recalled about 700,000 packages of Vicks Dayquil Cold & Flu Liquicaps (24 count) because the packaging is not child-resistant. The capsules contain acetaminophen and could cause serious health problems, including death, in children.

The capsules were sold at drug stores, grocery stores and other retailers between September 2008 and December 2009.

To read more, see the news release from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Understanding fevers

Friday, December 11th, 2009

It’s only natural to be concerned when your child’s temperature goes up. But not all fevers are a cause for worry. In fact, many fevers don’t need treatment. By activating your child’s immune system, a fever can actually shorten your child’s illness. Normal temperature is not a specific number. Instead normal temperature usually ranges from 97° to 100.4° Fahrenheit. Body temperature also varies according to time of day, age, and physical activity. Pediatricians do not consider a fever significant unless it rises above 100.4°. Treatment is rarely required for a child older than three months who has a mild fever but no other symptoms. But if other symptoms appear along with the fever, you should call your pediatrician. For children younger than three months even a mild fever means you should call your pediatrician right away. To learn more about caring for your baby, visit our website or the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The day Hannah arrived

Friday, August 21st, 2009

10129968915_0_albMy back was bothering me  again. I sat at the kitchen table trying to  finish  a bowl of cereal, but I was too uncomfortable. I was 36 weeks pregnant and I had a horrible cold. I called in sick to work and shuffled back to bed.  I tried to fall asleep, but the pressure in my lower back wouldn’t give. I flopped from side to side. I paced around my bedroom. I rocked on my hands and knees, but my back continued to throb. I couldn’t sit still for more than a second. I called for my husband who happened to be  home  recuperating  from a substantial orthopedic surgery that he had two weeks earlier. He massaged my back while balancing on his crutches, but it did no good.

“Don’t leave me”, I said. I was nervous and had to keep moving. He hobbled behind  me from room to room. Maybe I pinched a nerve or pulled a muscle? Let’s just call the midwife and  tell her what’s going on. She said it could just be end-of –pregnancy discomfort. Call her back if anything changes.  I wasn’t having any other symptoms. Until…very suddenly I did.

I ran to the bathroom and  threw up. The pressure in my back ramped up and radiated down into my bottom. I was moaning and walking  around on my tippy toes with my back arched. It was intense. Could this be it?  Was this labor? It came on so suddenly that we weren’t sure. I wasn’t having contractions . Everything we read said that labor progresses slowly and can take hours and hours for first time moms.  Could this be some other medical issue? My husband said, “that’s it we’re going to the hospital.” I was crying.

Somehow he managed to get me into the backset of the car although I was unable to sit. I was on my knees holding onto the head rest. We reached the stop sign at the end of our block and I jumped out of the car. I couldn’t tolerate the car. I just couldn’t do it. My husband was yelling at me, “what are you doing? Get back in the car!!” I somehow managed to crawl back in and he drove like a maniac in reverse back to our house. He whipped  into the driveway and called 911. ..To Be Continued.

Check back next Friday for Part 2 of, The day Hannah arrived. Have a great weekend and Happy Birthday Peter!

Cough and cold meds: Not for young children

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

It’s hard to watch a small child suffer from a bad cold: fever, red eyes, loss of sleep, crankiness. And the stuffed and chapped nose so irritated that even a soft tissue hurts.

All you have to do is look and you know “My poor baby feels miserable.”

A parent’s impulse is to DO SOMETHING. But giving a child under the age of 4 an over-the-counter cold medicine is not the right thing.

Recent research published in the journal Pediatrics highlights the risk of cough, cold and allergy medications for young children. Pseudoephedrine (also known as Sudafed) is commonly found in these medications. But we don’t know how much of it is safe for small children. So the best thing to do is avoid it.

Do not give over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy products to infants and children younger than 4 years of age. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, these medications can have serious and life-threatening side effects. For instance, pseudoephedrine can cause agitation, severe shaking, vomiting and a rapid heart rate. Too much pseudoephedrine can even lead to death.

For more information, read Colds on the March of Dimes Web site. The article tells you what to watch for when your child has a cold and when to call a doctor or nurse.

What do you do when your child has a bad cold?