5 Tips for Managing Cold and Flu Season

Dr. Jeremy Friedman shares his tips on when to seek medical treatment for your sick child

From the print edition, October 2011

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Does your little one have more than just a case of the sniffles? We asked Dr. Jeremy Friedman, chief of pediatric medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, for his tips on when it’s time to seek medical attention. Here’s what he had to say.

1. Prevention is better than treatment or cure. Make sure that your child is fully immunized and protected against those serious illnesses that we are now able to prevent through routine immunization.

2. Most viral infections may be accompanied by a fever for two to three days; if the fever goes on longer, then have him checked out. Fevers in babies under three months of age need to be addressed immediately as the baby’s immune system is still underdeveloped and infections can spread throughout the body.

3. Don’t rely on your child’s temperature; rather, base your decision on how your child looks, plays, eats and interacts. If he is playful, interactive and drinking okay then these are reassuring signs that he is dealing with what is likely a viral illness and there is no immediate rush to get him looked at.

4. If your child cannot keep fluids down and is having diarrhea then there is the potential for dehydration. If he is becoming listless and you notice a drop in the amount of urine being produced, then it is time to seek help.

5. Trust your gut. If there is one thing that 20 years of pediatric practice has taught me, it is that parents have a very well developed sense if things are not as they should be in their children. If you have that sense, then act on it!

Looking for more information about cold and flu season? We’ve debunked 8 myths about winter illnesses and put together a handy guide to some of the season’s common ailments.


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