(If you are worried about a medical issue with your child, definitely consult a doctor or medical professional—I’m not it. But if you want to know, mother-to-mother, how we dealt with the flu this season, read on!)
You might have noticed the headlines by now: the flu this year is not only spreading like wildfire, it’s especially nasty. As someone who got it herself and whose four-year-old got it, I can attest that the rumors are true. The only upside? I contracted it the day after Christmas, which did prevent further cookie consumption. (Always look for a bright side!)
I didn’t have a test, so I can’t say definitely which strand I had, but it was terrible and it seemed to drag on for a long time. Even though my son is four, he still isn’t great at expressing his symptoms. I’m sure you’ve noticed the same thing about your little one. Sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly when they start feeling bad, how serious it is, and what to do about it. Here’s what I observed from our bout with the flu this season.
If you have it, your kid will too
My husband came home from a business trip with the flu, just in time for Christmas. We were at my parents’ house, so I had no choice but to continue to share a room with him. I knew I was a goner. I knew it. But did that stop me from hugging my child? Unfortunately, it did not. I hung tough for two days, but it was just the incubation period. The minute I got the body aches and chills, I should have known my son would get it soon.
Moral of the story? If you are exposed (as in, a member of the family gets it), try to not hug or kiss your child. You’ll probably still have to touch her, but do your best to wash hands and limit exposure. The only thing worse than getting the flu? Having your child get it.
Watch for crankiness and irritability
How many times will it take me to learn that little children (at least mine!) don’t say, “I’m feeling achy. I think I’m coming down with something. I need rest and water.” No. Mine just starts having emotional breakdowns about everything. He’s short-tempered. He’s irritable. Nothing makes him happy for very long. The odd thing about him is that he’ll still want to play, but that’s because he hates being bored more than he hates being sick. And above all: he fears missing out.
Bottom line? If your child is moving slow, is angry about nothing, and has been exposed to the flu? Buckle up, mama. Pretty soon there will be no mistaking what’s going on! Keep in mind that with a cold, symptoms come on gradually. First there’s the stuffy nose. Then the boogers. Then the cough. With the flu, one day you’re fine, the next you’re not. And, the aches precede the respiratory issues.
Keep hydrating—even if it means breaking the rules
In my experience, this year’s flu curbs appetite big time. If your little one doesn’t feel like eating or drinking, you can let it ride with food, but keep up fluids. Fluids actually help his body fight the cold because the proteins that do battle with the flu move to the battlefield via bodily fluids. Don’t hamper their duty. The rule of thumb is a cup of fluids every hour for adults, so try to get your child to drink a commensurate amount.
How did we do it? By breaking the rules. Obviously every kid loves juice, but in our house, W is only allowed one cup per day. That went out the window, and his desire to milk it while he could did lead to increased fluid intake.
Relieve aches and pains with OTC medicines
My body aches were very unpleasant, and they lasted days. I felt like I had been beaten. My skin even hurt. Your child might not verbalize her precise symptoms, but if she feels bad, she’ll be angry and uncomfortable. Try to help by giving children’s Advil. It’s an anti-inflammatory, so it’ll also help with fever.
Don’t forget that a flu is also a respiratory bombardment so cough and stuffiness are part and parcel. Some OTCs also help with these symptoms too. This is especially important at night. If your kid is old enough to sleep with a pillow, definitely try elevating. If she’s still in a crib, try putting books underneath the mattress on one side so it’s slightly elevated.
Enforce nap time
If your child is old enough to go without a nap most days, being asked to nap sounds like punishment. Even if my son is dead tired, he’ll still resist a nap on the grounds that he “doesn’t need them anymore.” Maybe your child knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. Not mine. Staying up until his normal bedtime was too much with the flu though. If you need a nap, so does your little one. Make sure they take one.
Prepare for the long haul
Here’s how my flu went, just so you know. Day 1 started out normal, but then I began to feel an ache in my back. It came on out of nowhere. From there it was downhill. I got muscle pains and the chills. I became exhausted. Then the congestion began. By Day 2, I was coughing all day and night. It was on! Theraflu was my savior, but I had no appetite, and I felt dizzy. This went on for 6.5 days. Finally, I started to feel well enough to go for a walk around the block. That was tiring, though.
I remained bone tired (needing 10-11 hours of sleep per night) for another week. I was still a little dizzy. My son was the same. He needed like 13.5 hours of sleep a night after he was better. He was in his bed by 6 pm. To recap: that was two full weeks of not being right.
Consult a doctor?
You should take yourself or child to the doctor if you feel you need to. If you hear alarm bells in your head about your kid, don’t delay! Better to pay for an office visit than be sorry. Also, if you’ve managed to escape without the flu so far, consider getting the vaccination. Although it’s protectiveness is infamously low this year, it can still make your flu less intense…which is worth it!
I wish wellness to everyone! But should you get the flu, make sure your DVD works. There’s going to be many long days on the couch ahead.
Share with us! What do you do when your child is sick?