Disclaimer: These tips are brought to you by a mom, not a doctor. This does not serve as medical advice. As always, please discus all medications and treatments with your doctor.
We began the plight of illness, the plague of the year, two days before Christmas. With a fridge full of special desserts, French toast casserole (a yearly tradition), and champagne for mimosas, our little family of four was stuck sipping broth and snacking on crackers. One by one, we were all taken down by the flu. Luckily, I, the lone ranger, the supplier of hugs and contagious kisses, was the last to fall.
With the flu, you do not simply get through it; you make it out alive. Watching your kids cough and fight high fevers, all while trying to stay away from “flu media” is scary. We visited urgent care two times in four days. Thank goodness they were open and available on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
After being in a daze for two weeks, the time it takes to really feel like a functioning human again, I am sharing my tips that helped us during our bout with the flu. I hope this helps you or someone you love, and I hope that if you are reading this, you recover fast or do not get the dreaded flu this year.
Natural and Alternative Medicine
Starting with the first sign of illness (which appeared with a fever), I started dosing out elderberry, Oscillococcinum, and extra vitamin C. All of these things are kid-friendly and come in chewable forms that taste good. The key to these homeopathic treatments is to stay on top of the dosing, which is repeating every four to six hours. This was the first time that I was able to use these medicines for the actual flu, and I honestly believe that it helped us get better faster. My husband did not take any (shocker), and his symptoms lasted two days longer. The bonus addition to boosting the immune system is good for everyone in the house or around the infected while contagious.
Fever and Pain Management
Fevers are beneficial to the body’s healing process. I repeat that to myself relentlessly over and over as I try to comfort my children. When you’re dealing with fevers, the most important thing is to stay hydrated. Fluids help to cool the body and keep the infection moving in the right direction. If drinking is too difficult, broth and popsicles can be given. I made popsicles with coconut water and grape juice. Before we offer fever reducers, we do lukewarm baths (a cool bath can lower the body temperature too fast) and cool washcloths over their foreheads. This generally works well during the day when they are lying around and sleeping. This year, I discovered the cooling pads that stick to the forehead and stay cool for hours. I myself loved them! My kids pulled them off, but I used them daily.
Fever reducers such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen also help with the immense pain that comes with the flu. I knew by the look in my kids’ eyes that it was time for pain control.
Cough and Sore Throat
It starts with a cough. A cough that lasts for weeks after the flu has moved through. Alas, all the coughing leads to sore throats. Our pediatrician didn’t recommend cough suppressants for the kids; the cough protects the lungs from infection (pneumonia). Most cough medicines marketed to “kids” are designed for ages six and up. Our go-to “drug” of choice is honey, which can be taken by the spoonful or added to hot tea. Our stove top kettle was whistling nearly all day between the four of us.
Steam showers can also help clear the airways and break up congestion. Even when they weren’t up for being in the shower or bath, I would lay a blanket in the bathroom and let the kids lay on it while the water was steaming up. We did this in the morning and in the evening before bedtime.
Most of the time, when my kids are sick you wouldn’t even know it because they still run around like crazy and beg to play. The flu, however, was a different beast. We didn’t leave our beds for three days and then we made it as far as the living room couch. The bedside table was full of cups of water and juice, boxes of tissues, and a makeshift pharmacy. Beyond sleeping, all we did was watch television, and I didn’t count the hours of screen time. Daniel Tiger is right: rest is best.
Even though we were all sick, I cleaned and sanitized when I was able to. I washed and changed pillowcases daily, changed the bathroom towels after each bath or shower, and wiped down the remotes and phones. Everyone got new toothbrushes, which is recommended after any virus.
- I kept an extra clean towel on the bed, within reach at a moment’s notice in case coughing led to vomiting.
- We ran the dishwasher daily full of cups (seriously so many cups), but I served food on paper plates so I didn’t have to deal with dirty dishes. I know it’s not the best option for the environment, but it’s only temporary.
- Once we were moving around I encouraged sitting out in the sun each day. Luckily in Texas it wasn’t hard to do this, even during the winter.
- Watch for any signs of lingering or new infections. Ask your kids if their ears hurt, listen to their coughs, and be aware of fevers that go away and then return. Don’t be afraid of bugging your doctor.
- The flu is contagious from one day before showing symptoms to five to seven days after you start feeling sick, regardless of whether fever is no longer present. We stayed home for the duration aside from visiting the doctor.
- Wash bedding, towels, and backpacks with a cup of vinegar in the wash cycle.
- Take advantage of grocery delivery and H-E-B Curbside pickup.
Do you have any suggestions for treating the flu this season? I would love to read them!