As much hand washing and mouth covering as you force (err, encourage) your kids to do, they’re still going to end up getting sick at some point this winter. After all, they come into quite a plethora of germs at school, the grocery store and seemingly, just by breathing. My daughter went through a record number of illnesses after her first few months at daycare, so eventually I learned a thing or two about combating sickness. Believe it or not, there is a light at the end of the puking tunnel. Your kids will eventually be healthy again and you will sanity will return to normal. Well, as normal as it gets for a parent of littles.
As always, consult your pediatrician if you suspect your child has one of these ailments before treating them on your own, but these tips will help get you through the worst of it. Oh, and don’t forget to stock up on wine in case you’re stuck inside for a few days. That may be my most important advice of all.
Coxsackie Virus, aka Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease
Coxsackie virus has yet to make an appearance in our house, but I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from friends. Having a high fever and sores all over your body sounds awful, however, the Mayo Clinic says the disease is relatively mild and symptoms should disappear within a week or so. Still, it’s tough for littles to handle the pain of mouth sores for that long. This is the one time when letting your toddler down multiple popsicles is totally acceptable, along with eating soft foods, getting plenty of rest and using a pain reliever to stay comfortable.
If your child is exhibiting a bark-like cough at night along with a fever, it could be croup. According to the Mayo Clinic, most cases can actually be treated at home with plenty of rest and moist, humid air (like using a humidifier or sitting in a steam-filled bathroom). Propping your child up while they sleep can make it easier for them to breathe as well. The illness runs its course in about three to five days, which doesn’t sound so bad, but there is a chance the infection will stick around. In that case, your pediatrician can prescribe a steroid to reduce airway inflammation.
Conjunctivitis, aka Pink Eye
Ah, the dreaded pink eye. As annoying as the illness seems, it’s generally pretty mild. The CDC says most cases are viral and will clear up in their own after a week or two. Symptoms include itchy, watery, and yup, pink eyes and the illness sometimes follows a bad cold. If the infection seems particularly bad (for instance, gross discharge is oozing out of your child’s eye), then it could be bacterial and may require further treatment, such as antibiotic eye drops (not so fun to squirt in a wriggly toddler’s eye, but they do the trick). A warm or cold compress can also help inflammation, and at the very least, will probably distract your kid from the itching.
Commonly known as the “stomach flu,” this bug causes vomiting, diarrhea and generally, lots of issues that will have you breaking out the Lysol. Fluids are the key to treating the illness, says Web MD. Popsicles, juice and Pedialyte will be your best friends, but wait until the vomiting has slowed down before offering small sips of liquids. Avoid milk and other dairy products until symptoms have cleared up. If your toddler is still in diapers, watch for signs of dehydration, such as going longer than six hours without peeing, and get them to a doctor ASAP if you notice they seem extremely lethargic or appear to have sunken eyes. Once the vomiting has stopped, reintroduce bland foods, like bananas and toast.