Is Your Kid Sick? Here’s What to Do First

As a parent, you know when your kid is not acting like their normal self. They’re fussy and irritable, or turning down their favorite foods at dinnertime. It may seem like something is off, but you can’t quite place your finger on the issue. Then it hits you – you reach over, touch your child’s forehead, and they feel warmer than they should.

It’s normal for a healthy child to get at least 6 colds a year.1 So if your child is not acting themselves, they may be coming down with an upper respiratory tract infection—the common cold or flu; viruses cause both. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the common cold or flu, but you can help your child feel more comfortable by using age-appropriate OTC medicines to relieve symptoms like congestion, cough, or fever

5 Signs Your Child Isn’t Feeling Well

You can usually tell when your child is acting outside the norm. Below are some helpful signs that show your child isn’t feeling well. Nevertheless, always check with your child’s health care provider regarding the signs and symptoms below.

1. Dull or glassy-eyed look
Your child’s eyes may look unfocused, appearing dull or glassy-eyed during the day when they should be alert. This may mean that they are not feeling well.

2. Pain or discomfort
Your child may look like they are in pain or uncomfortable. They may even cry or whimper. They may not want to do their favorite activities.

3. Fussy and not playing
If your child is fussy, irritable, or not playing throughout the day, this could be a sign that they may be sick.

4. Sleeping for too long
When a child is not feeling well, they may sleep longer than usual, or take a nap when they normally wouldn’t. During sleep, the immune system is active, fighting viruses that may cause an infection. This could be the body’s way of putting its immune system to work.

5. They feel warm
A fever is one of the signs that your child’s body is fighting an infection so it makes sense that they may not be feeling well. The temporary rise in body temperature to kill viruses could mean that your child’s immune system is working hard to fight off an infection. Fever is a telltale sign of flu in adults; however, children may have a fever with either a cold or a flu. A fever can make your child uncomfortable.

5 Steps to Take When Your Child has a Cold

If you’re wondering what to do when your child has a cold always check first with their pediatrician or health care provider because many conditions may have similar signs and symptoms. Nevertheless, here are 5 simple steps that can help:

1. Check your child’s temperature
When your child isn’t feeling well, it’s helpful to know whether they have a fever, and then deciding whether to give them a fever reducer, or let their natural immune system continue to fight the virus. Have a thermometer at hand and keep track of your child’s temperature throughout the day or night.

2. Make sure your child is drinking plenty of water
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to keep your child comfortable as they fight off a cold or flu virus, especially if they are vomiting or have diarrhea. Offer lots of fluids throughout the day. Offer warm fluids if your child has congestion; it can soothe dry nasal passages and may help keep mucus thin so it is easier to remove.

3. Consider age-appropriate OTC medicines to relieve some of the most bothersome cold and flu symptoms
While OTC medicines can’t cure colds or flu, or make them go away faster, they can help relieve or ease symptoms caused by upper respiratory tract infections. Always check with your pediatrician before offering your child any medicine, read the label, and use as directed. It is also important to keep medicine containers closed and out of reach of children.

4. Keep your child at home if possible
If your child is showing symptoms, let their teacher know that he or she needs to remain at home to recover and avoid spreading germs in class at school. Keeping your child home can help prevent the spread of viral infections to their classmates and teachers.

5. Give your child extra snuggles
Your child will need all the extra love and snuggles they can get while the immune system works the cold or flu virus out of their system. Take a time out of your regular schedule to snuggle up!

A Guide to Kids’ Cold and Flu OTC Medicines

Common cold symptoms include nasal congestion, sore throat, coughing, scratchy throat, and runny nose. In kids, the flu includes many of the same symptoms, including fever, but with the addition of chills, sweats, and muscle aches and pains.2

Vicks offers an extensive line of OTC medicines that helps relieve your child’s cold and flu symptoms. First identify which symptoms your child has, and then look for the children’s OTC medicine with the active ingredients that address those symptoms, so you can make sure your child is getting the relief they need.

Let’s look at symptoms and the OTC medicines that address them.

Stuffy Nose
A stuffy nose can make your child uncomfortable during the day or at night. Young children may have trouble blowing their nose to clear secretions. And when they can’t breathe, they can have trouble focusing at school, playing, eating, and sleeping well.

If your child is 4 years old or older and has a stuffy nose, they may be given a nasal decongestant that contains an active ingredient like phenylephrine. Nasal decongestants work by decreasing the swelling of nasal passages to open nasal passages, thereby relieving a stuffy nose.

Vicks Children’s products with nasal decongestants include:

Your child’s cough may make you worried, especially if it’s making it hard for them to breathe or keeping them up in the middle of the night. Nighttime cough is not fun and can disrupt your child’s sleep, leaving them (and you) exhausted, sleepy, and not ready or alert to take on the next day.

If your child has a cough, they may be given an age-appropriate cough and cold medicine containing a cough suppressant. The active ingredient in many cough suppressants is dextromethorphan. Cough suppressants work by easing the urge to cough, thereby relieving cough due to minor throat and bronchial irritation.

Vicks Children’s products with cough suppressants include:

Another cough suppressant is Vicks VapoRub Children’s topical rub; it relieves cough without the fight trying to get your child to take a spoon of medicine! Rubbed gently on the chest, throat and back, medicated vapors start to work instantly to suppress cough. Plus, you can use it on kids 2 years and older.

Thick Mucus
Thick mucus can make it hard for your child to cough it up and out.
If your child is finding it difficult to cough up thick mucus, a cold medicine with an expectorant may help. Expectorants work by loosening phlegm (mucus) and thinning bronchial secretions to help make it easier to rid the bronchial passageways of bothersome mucus.

Vicks Children’s products with expectorants include:

Runny Nose
The constant dripping coming from your child’s nose is just as uncomfortable as it looks. A runny nose is an excess of watery nasal secretion, the immune system’s way of flushing out a virus and delivering virus-fighting cells to the site of infection. It is often one of the earlier signs your child may have a cold virus.

If your child has runny nose, they may be given a medicine with an antihistamine to dry up the nasal passages and stop that constant drip coming from their little nose.

Vicks Children’s products with antihistamines include:

A fever is a temporary increase in your child’s body temperature. It’s a sign that your child’s immune system is doing a good job of fighting off an infection by making a hostile environment for the virus.

If your child has a fever, they may be given a cold medicine that contains a fever-reducer like acetaminophen, which is also a pain reliever that can alleviate headaches, and minor aches and pains.3

Vicks Children’s products with fever-reducers include:

It’s Always Appropriate to Call a Doctor’s Office About Your Child’s Cold or Flu

If your child has a mild cold, you can offer care at home and Vicks Children’s extensive products may be of help. But it’s also important to keep an eye on your child – paying attention to how long their symptoms last and the severity of symptoms.

If you have any concerns at all, it’s always a good idea to check in with your pediatrician to make sure you’re taking the proper steps to improve your child’s symptoms of cold and/or flu.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)1, you should call your pediatrician immediately if your child has symptoms like trouble breathing that is not severe, or wheezing, or a fever over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The AAP has a full list of symptoms and when to call who for help; you should always talk to your pediatrician to discuss your child’s specific needs.

We hope your little one is back to playtime in no time!

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