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COVID-19, flu, and RSV in kids: A winter survival guide for parents from Consumer Reports

Posted at 6:31 AM, Dec 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-19 07:31:29-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/CONSUMER REPORTS) — Cold and flu season is here and doctor's offices are packed with sick kids suffering from numerous respiratory illnesses. To improve your chances of keeping your child healthy, Consumer Reports has a winter survival guide for parents.

This winter parents could be battling a virus-triple-threat — the flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus or RSV.

“Health care facilities are already being overwhelmed by sick kids, especially with RSV which causes cold-like symptoms and sometimes serious respiratory problems—especially in babies,” said Kevin Loria with Consumer Reports.

No one wants a sick kid or an unnecessary trip to the doctor’s office or hospital. So, here’s what you can do to help keep your kids from getting sick, relieve symptoms when they occur, and recognize when something is truly an emergency.

“While there’s no magic way to keep your kids from ever getting sick, there are some things you can do to better your odds, like keeping your kid's vaccinations up to date," Loria said.

That includes the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, when eligible.

Also make sure you show your kids how to properly wash their hands — scrubbing for 20 seconds, when they get home, after using the bathroom and before eating. Wearing a mask is still an effective way to protect yourself, especially in crowded indoor spaces.

If your child does end up getting sick, make them as comfortable as possible.

“Kids generally need time to get better, so let your child rest, watch some movies, perhaps. And very importantly, keep them hydrated," said Loria.

As for medication, check with your doctor first, but it’s usually OK to use children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen. But steer clear of cough medicine — it doesn’t really work well for them and can even be dangerous.

It’s also important to know the signs of an emergency. If your child has a fever of 105 degrees, is showing signs of dehydration or is having trouble breathing, take them to the ER. Any fever in newborns, under two months, is also an emergency.

And don’t forget: if you have a sick child, keep them home, to help keep others from getting sick.