3 Must-Know Tips For Cold And Flu Season


For parents of small children, it can sometimes feel like someone in your house is constantly in some stage of fighting a cold this time of year. Runny noses are a fact of life, right? Fall and winter months are peak times for catching colds or even the flu.

Doctors note that it’s not unusual for children to have several colds each year. “Children younger than the age of six commonly average six to eight colds per year, or one per month from September through April,” says Irvin Kappy M.D. “Some children seem as if they have a cold the entire fall and winter. Adults only average two to four colds per year, with nasal congestion the most common symptom.”

Cold symptoms include low-grade fevers for the first few days of the two-week period, nasal discharge (runny nose), sore throat, sneezing, cough, irritability, decreased appetite and trouble sleeping. In addition to coughs and sneezing, flu symptoms typically include high fevers, headaches and fatigue, Dr. Kappy says. Cold symptoms usually start gradually, while flu symptoms occur suddenly.

So what’s the key to getting through cold and flu season? Dr. Kappy offers these three key tips:

  1. Do your best to stop the spread of germs. “Good hand washing is the best prevention, together with alcohol hand rubs,” Dr. Kappy says. “Stay away from those that are sick, and cough into your elbow and not your hand. Fluids and rest are also still important. Grandma was correct that a steaming bowl of chicken soup also goes a long way.”
  2. Get a flu vaccine. Dr. Kappy says that annual flu vaccines are important in the prevention of flu, and that children older than 6 months of age can benefit from it. He also points out that the flu vaccine does not cause the flu, though at times it may cause mild discomfort.For the 2016 winter season, the nasal flu vaccine will not be available as it has been recently found to be not as effective as predicted. It is still highly recommended that all eligible children receive the flu vaccine, as influenza is known to cause thousands of deaths per year in the United States.
  3. Know when you need to see a doctor. If your child does get a cold or flu, it’s important to know when to take your child to the doctor. Some symptoms that should prompt parents to bring their child to a doctor depend on the age of the child. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), typical symptoms that should prompt a doctor’s visit include: fevers greater than 103 degrees or higher, a fever with a rash, difficulty breathing, irritability or not drinking enough fluids. With children under 3 months of age, any fever over 100 degrees is reason for a doctor’s appointment. Antiviral agents are available as an option in the treatment of some cases of flu.Other symptoms which require medical attention include: any fever lasting longer than 3 days, difficult or fast breathing, wheezing, flaring nostrils, ear aches, bluish skin color of the lips or fingers, changing level of alertness, severe sore throat, or symptoms lasting longer than 10 days.

Need a flu shot? Henry Ford Health System offers walk-in flu shots at these locations. To find a pediatrician or make an appointment, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Dr. Irvin Kappy is the vice chair for the Department of Pediatrics at the Henry Ford Medical Group and sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Farmington Road in West Bloomfield.

Categories: ParentWell