With the gluttony of the holidays behind us, January is a perfect time to start fresh. Large goals are often hard to achieve, so it may be wise to start small with those New Years Resolutions. Don’t let yourself get into a “winter rut” now that the holiday dash is over. Here are some tips to ensure a happy and healthy start to your New Year:
- Stay active. Embrace the cold winter air with some fun outdoor activities for the entire family, such as hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or sledding. Even if these outdoor activities aren’t your favorites, try to get creative with some indoor fun (i.e. dance parties with young children or active games of hide and seek).
- Stay safe. With any activity, outdoor or indoor, it is important to follow safety guidelines. For instance, helmets, pads, and appropriate cold weather gear are a must.
- Stay positive. With fewer hours of daylight, and the constraints of cold weather, it is easy to find oneself gloomy or less motivated on many days. Although adults may be more capable of expressing these feelings, children may be experiencing many similar emotions. In mild cases, this can all be resolved with a few simple steps involving exercise, play dates with friends, good communication between parent and child. Children who are already predisposed to anxiety and or depression may have a more difficult time. In this case, it is important to follow up with your pediatrician or mental health professional. Warning signs that your child may need more assistance include withdrawal from the family, lack of interest in being with friends, excessive sleep, and either more moodiness or lack of affect.
Along with winter comes lots of enclosed spaces and lots of sharing of germs. Do you feel like your child is “always sick”? One of the most common concerns that we hear is “why is my child always sick in the winter?”
It probably does feel like your child is always sick, it is normal for your child to have at least 8 colds in a 12 month period. Given that the winter months are the time when most respiratory viruses are concentrated, you tend to have back to back illnesses. Just as a child recovers from one cold, they may catch another. A normal cold or respiratory virus can easily last for 7 – 10 days.
Along with illness often comes fever. To clarify, fever is a symptom of an illness that your child is fighting off, it is not an illness in itself. Over time, more and more parents have become weary of fever and fear that it is a sign of a more serious infection. Most often, a fever is harmless. Some signs and symptoms of fever include shivering, flushing, and feeling warm. According to pediatric standards, a low grade fever is considered 100.4 to 102, a moderate fever is 103 to 104, and high grade fever is 105 to 107. Although we understand parents’ concern when your child is ill, fever is a sign that the immune system is working the way that it should be.
That being said, there are certainly things that we can do to help a child feel better with fever. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are both fever reducers. These medications will reduce a fever by 1 to 2 degrees, but if the body still needs fever, it will not take a fever away completely. This is a common concern of parents who worry that the acetaminophen or ibuprofen is not working. In fact, most often it is working well but the body still needs fever to fight off infection. Ibuprofen should only be used for children 6 months and older. We recommend choosing one fever reducer and sticking with it rather than alternating between two. Another fever reducing method is to put your child in a warm bath, which will also bring down a fever effectively.
If a fever is persisting more than 48 to 72 hours, in an otherwise healthy child, please call us so that we can evaluate your child further. The exceptions to this guideline would include infants under 3 months, a child that looks very sleepy and isn’t drinking properly, children with co-morbidities (i.e. sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, cancer, etc.). If you are unsure if your child fits into any of these categories, please call us when the fever starts so we can develop a plan of when your child should be evaluated. In fact, we encourage parents to call if there are any concerns about your child’s health.