Pass the Tissues: Help for When the Whole Family is Sick

iStock_000024744075_FullThe frigid chill of winter often brings runny noses, fevers, and coughing, and it’s easy for the germs to get passed from one family member to another rather quickly. The months of January and February are typically the height of contagious viruses, including the flu and stomach viruses. If everyone in your house is reaching for the cough drops or the tissues, try these tips for caring for multiple sick family members and stopping the spread of germs.

Sanitize the Germ Hot Spots
Use disinfectant wipes on the refrigerator door, phones, toilet handles, remote controls, and doorknobs. These are spots everyone in the family touches. Also, wash your laundry in hot water since it kills more germs than cold.

Scrub Up Often
Washing your hands properly can reduce your odds of catching a cold by 30 to 50 percent. Many viruses are spread through hand-to-hand contact, so to effectively kill germs, you need to scrub for at least 20 seconds.

Start a No Sharing When Sick Rule
When anyone is sick, don’t share towels or toothbrushes. Don’t let children share toys, blankets, or stuffed animals. Also avoid eating off of anyone else’s plate. Strep throat and stomach viruses can be passed through saliva.

Drink Up
Hydration is vital to getting well, but reminding children to drink can feel like a chore. Add in the factor they may be lying down and you have the extra challenge of preventing spills. Keep a number of cups with lids and bendable straws on hand so it’s easy to drink from any position and to take the cup from bedroom to couch without spills.

Tracking Medication
Parents are often exhausted when children are sick, so remembering the last time kids took their medicine is a challenge. Make a small chart on the side of each medicine bottle or create multiple charts that include the name of the family member, the medicine, the day, and the time doses are taken.

Keep Children’s Activities Low-Key
Rest can help speed up recovery from an illness. Help your children engage in low-key activities without marathon TV sessions. Get out puzzles, board games, crafts, crayons, and coloring books. Older children might enjoy playing cards. You can also access audiobooks from websites or your local library and play them on your computer, smartphone, or MP3 player.

When to See a Doctor

LeBauer HealthCare has a team of doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who are prepared to diagnose and treat winter’s worst viruses, including the flu, bronchitis, ear infections, and gastroenteritis (sometimes called the stomach flu). We offer families primary care services at six locations throughout the Triad, including Greensboro, High Point, Oak Ridge, Whitsett, and Burlington.

If a family member is running a fever over 100 degrees for several days, continues coughing, or can’t stay hydrated due to vomiting or diarrhea, you should contact a doctor as soon as possible.

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