Kids' cold and flu

When one family member gets a cold, it often spreads quickly to the others. Here are some tips on how to cope with a "family cold" and how to avoid spreading colds around your family.

Coping with a family cold:

  • Stock up. Visit your local pharmacy for all your cough and cold essentials. You'll need cough and cold products, good-quality tissues, hand sanitizer, a thermometer (if you don't already have one), and plenty of fluids (such as 100% fruit juices and chicken soup).
  • Be aware that "one size fits all" doesn't apply when it comes to cold relief. Cough and cold products for adults are not necessarily appropriate for children, and oral (taken by mouth) over-the-counter cough and cold products aren't recommended for children under 6 years of age. As an alternative for children 2 years of age and over, take non-pharmacological measures and supportive care that may provide relief, including the following:
    • Allow plenty of rest.
    • Ensure hydration by providing water or clear soup.
    • Clear nasal passages using saline spray.
    • Provide adequate humidity.

  • Children 6 and over may use oral cough and cold products, but they will need smaller doses than adults, usually based on weight. Always read and follow the label. Even adults should be wary of sharing cough and cold products. If you have different symptoms, what works for your partner may not work for you. Ask your pharmacist to recommend cough and cold products (and doses) that are right for each member of the family.

  • Take good care of yourself. Do your best to eat well and get as much rest as you can. There are over-the-counter cough and cold products that are specifically designed to help you sleep though the night so you'll feel stronger and better able to care for your family. You may need to ask family or friends to help by bringing food, running errands, or helping with child care (just be sure to follow the prevention instructions below so your helpers don't get sick too!)

Preventing colds from spreading:

  • Everyone in your family, including children, should be reminded regularly to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with more than 60% alcohol. Wash hands before eating, touching your face, or feeding children. Wash hands after using the washroom, changing a diaper, visiting someone who is sick, coughing or sneezing, or touching pets. It's also a good idea to wash your hands when you get home from work or school.
  • Use tissues when coughing or sneezing. If tissues are not available, cough into a sleeve.
  • Avoid sharing towels, drinking glasses, or utensils.
  • Keep your home clean, especially common surfaces such as kitchen and bathroom counters, doorknobs, and taps.
  • Be sure to change your toothbrush after being sick.

  • Stay home from work or from school if you have flu symptoms.

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