Cold and flu season

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Cold and flu season
Cold and flu season

Your child's nose keeps running and a cough is heard. You might be wondering if it's a cold or the flu?


A cold or the flu?

It is not always easy to distinguish a cold from the flu since the symptoms may seem similar to you.

A cold is defined as an infection of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the nose, nasal passages and throat. Most often, the common cold is manifested by symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. These symptoms can last from two to seven days. Compared to other infectious diseases, colds are not very contagious. You have to have been in close contact with an infected person to contract it. To be transmitted, viruses must enter the nose and infect the nasal membranes. Inhaling contaminated droplets produced by a coughing or sneezing person can be a way of catching a cold. The cold temperature of the winter season cannot be the cause of the common cold. If it is true that we catch colds more frequently in winter, it is because we also tend to stay indoors more often and longer, near someone with a cold. The drier air in ourheating dries out the mucous membranes of the nasal membranes and without a sufficient layer of mucous membranes on them, the nose becomes more vulnerable to cold-causing viruses.

flu is a respiratory infection caused by the flu virus. There are many strains of the virus circulating around the world, year-round. In Canada, the flu season normally runs from November to April and can affect 10-25% of the population each year. The flu is a more serious respiratory illness than the common cold and is manifested by fever, cough, fatigue and muscle aches, sometimes accompanied by eye pain, sore throat, hoarseness or an inflammation of the neck glands. In children, it is common to observe a loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms can last more than a week.

Like the common cold, the flu is spread by droplets thrown into the air by coughing or sneezing from an infected person. Your child can catch the flu by inhaling these droplets through their nose or mouth, or by coming into direct contact with their eyes. The flu virus is also found on the hands of infected people as well as on surfaces they have touched. Your child can also catch it if they touch a contaminated person's hand or surface and then transfer the virus by touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

Does your little one go to daycare?

He ismore likely to catch cold or flu viruses. Unfortunately, when many children are in contact with each other and they all handle the same toys, this situation is very conducive to contamination. There is still good news! Children who have suffered from several colds will become immune to the viruses that infected them and thus, they will be less susceptible to these viruses the following winter. By kindergarten age, children who have contracted many colds in daycare will have fewer problems than those who were spared more before starting school.

The importance of being attentive to the symptoms of Covid-19

We now know that covid-19 symptoms can be similar to those of a cold or the flu, so it's important to follow government recommendations in terms of quarantine and screening as soon as the symptoms appear below:

  • new or worsening cough
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • temperature equal to or greater than 38°C
  • feeling feverish
  • chills
  • tiredness or weakness
  • muscle pain or aches
  • loss of smell or taste
  • headache
  • abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting
  • intense discomfort

To vaccinate against influenza or not?

In Quebec, the flu vaccine is offered free of charge to children aged 6 to 23 monthsand their loved ones. Since circulating influenza viruses can change from year to year, the composition of the vaccine should be reviewed annually. This is why it is recommended that you have your child vaccinated every fall, even if they received a vaccine the year before.

Are you hesitating to have your child vaccinated? Note that the vaccine is recommended by the Quebec Ministry of He alth and Social Services and by the Canadian Pediatric Society. It is also important to know that the vaccine does not immunize your child against the common cold. Do not hesitate to ask your family doctor for advice.

If you wish to have your child vaccinated, you can contact the CLSC closest to you.

Some advice and information

On average, a child under the age of five has eight colds a year.

Flu and cold viruses can stay alive on surfaces for at least eight hours and can be contracted if a child touches their nose, mouth or eyes after touching a contaminated surface.

Frequent hand washing helps reduce the spread of colds, flu and many other infections! It is important to teach your child this hygiene measure, especially after blowing his nose, after coughing, after using the toilet and after visiting a hospital or medical clinic. The same goes for parents! For hand cleaning to be effective, it must be done with warm water and soap, by rubbingvigorously for at least 30 to 40 seconds.

Toy cleaning is another recommendation. Did you know that a child between the ages of 18 and 36 months usually puts an object in their mouth every 3 minutes?

Teach the child to cough or sneeze into the bend of their elbow to prevent it from contaminating their hands.

Baby is too small to blow his nose on his own and has a stuffy nose? You can aspirate secretions with a nasal bulb. If the secretions are a little thick, you can put 2 or 3 drops of s alt water (eg HydraSens) in each nostril. This will help him breathe better and, by blowing his nose or encouraging him to blow his nose, you considerably reduce the risk of ear infections. To teach your child to blow his nose, you can make him extinguish a candle by blowing through his nose.

If your child has the flu or a cold, offer plenty of fluids and encourage them to get plenty of rest. If symptoms persist, see your doctor.

Never give aspirin to a child or teenager with flu symptoms, especially fever, unless you have discussed it with your doctor. In fact, a dose of aspirin given to a child or adolescent who has the flu can cause Reye's syndrome, a rare but very serious disease characterized by, among other things, serious damage to the brain and liver.

Doré, Nicole, Danielle Le Hénaff. Living better with our child from birth to two years.

National Institute of Public He alth ofQuebec, 2003, p. 409-414.

Canadian Center for Occupational He alth and Safety- He alth Canada- Your He alth and You - A Parent's Guide to How Common Colds Are in Children - Information on Reye's Syndrome


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