Beat The Family Flu

When it comes to family wellness, few things are worse than having flu in the household. It’s not impossible for the entire clan to fall ill all at once, and it’s no fun looking after the kids and spouse when you’re suffering, too. The following tips will help you stay on top of things.

Cold or flu? Over a hundred different viruses cause symptoms of the common cold, making it the commonest disease in humans. Adults get an average of 2-3 colds per year, while kids sometimes suffer as many as 10, partly because of increased exposure in nurseries and school, and partly because their immunity is not yet primed against them. Influenza symptoms initially resemble a cold but quickly get significantly worse and last longer.

If someone has obvious cold symptoms, do not shake their hand! Encourage everyone to wash hands regularly (at least 20 seconds using soap and water) and use antibacterial hand wipes/sprays and antiviral tissues in between. Keep an antibacterial gel handy. Make sure used tissues get disposed of appropriately and keep surfaces clean with an antibacterial cleaner. Wash bedding, towels and clothes regularly and in a hot cycle.

Use decongestant oils to help everyone breathe more easily.

Medical notes When you’re not feeling well yourself, it can be hard to keep track of who’s had what medicine when, so it’s a good idea to make notes. Write down the date of when the illness started and the times and type of medicine administered. Keeping everyone on the same medicine schedule will avoid giving too much. Many flu and cold medications come with paracetamol, which is dangerous if taken too often, so check different remedies to see what’s in them. If it helps, put an alarm on your phone to let you know when you can give another dose.

Rest, Rest, Rest Taking things easy is the best treatment for colds and flu, so make sure everyone gets enough. Put kids in bed with a colouring book or on a sofa with a blanket in front of their favourite DVD but check them regularly. And make sure you get enough sleep yourself.

Stay positive Even when everyone feels lousy, it’s still possible to have fun. You’re in this together – that’s what family is all about. During convalescence, play games when you’re up to it, have drawing competitions, make Get Well cards for each other; focusing on the positive will make sick days pass faster, help cheer each other up and contributes to the healing process.

Keep eating It can be a pain to prepare food when you’re not feeling well, but it’s important that everyone eats well. Now is a good time to defrost some frozen homemade meals. It’s possible to place online orders for meals these days, so you shouldn’t have to leave the house if you’re not feeling well. Vitamin C helps to reduce the inflammation associated with colds and flu, so eat fruit and make orange juice ice pops to help soothe sore throats. Drink plenty of water to maintain hydration, too.

Limit visitations The last thing you want is to make another family miserable, so curtail visits from play-friends, neighbours and family members while you’re all getting better together. Don’t be afraid to call in sick to work. Most bosses have families of their own and will understand. Just make sure you stay in touch to let your company and the school know how things are progressing and when you and your children will be back to your normal routine. For flu, your children should not be back at school until for at least seven days. Even if they seem well, there is a chance they can infect other pupils. Siblings should be kept at home for five days even if they show no signs of being unwell as they can pass on the virus.

When can kids return to school? A mild cold will cause little distress but a child with a heavy cold or flu who has a temperature should be nursed at home until they are back to normal. Unfortunately, working mums regularly send sick children to school as there’s no-one to look after them, and one in six mothers have been made to feel ‘guilty’ by their boss after taking time off to look after a poorly child. Yet, as an employee you’re allowed time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, including a child who depends on you for care. Your employer may want to talk to you if they think time off is affecting your work, but you can’t be sacked, passed over for promotion or treated unfairly because of this – check your contract or company handbook to see what rules apply.

Caring for a house full of runny noses and congested chests is no fun, but it’s vital to take the time to look after yourself too. If you feel you can’t cope, ask for help from a close friend or family member.

Symptom Common Cold Influenza
Headache Uncommon Pronounced
Blocked nose Usual Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore throat Common  Sometimes
Cough Mild to moderate Mild to severe
General aches & pains Slight Severe
Extreme exhaustion Never Pronounced
Weakness Mild Severe, can last 2-3 weeks
Fever Slight or none Usually 39 degrees C or higher for 3 to 4 days 

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