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Navigating Caring for a Sick Child Amid Flu, COVID, and RSV Season

Navigating Caring for a Sick Child Amid Flu, COVID, and RSV Season

It’s only December and my daughter has been sick twice now with the same virus. For two weeks straight now, she has been sick with nose and chest congestion, consistent coughing, runny nose, and sometimes even lacking appetite. Next thing I know, I’m sick, then my husband is sick, and then the cycle starts again! Having a sick household back to back-is the most exhausting thing for a mom. However, this time has taught me a lot about preparing should it happen again. If you’re a mom who’s in the same position as me, then you will want to keep reading because I am going to tell you how to combat this never-ending cycle without having mommy burnout.

Noticing the Early Signs of a Sick Child and Acting Quickly

If there is one thing I have learned already about navigating a sick household this cold and flu season, it would be noticing the early signs of a cold and combating it before it gets worse. As a parent, it’s your job to know what’s abnormal about your child when they get sick. Of course, every child is different in how they may respond to getting sick. When it comes to my daughter, everything always starts with a random cough! And it’s not that cough where it sounds like she drank water too fast, it’s that dry and rough cough that makes every mom look up at the ceiling, take a long blink, and have the urge to shout, “NO!” like Michael Scott from The Office. If you’re a mom then you know exactly what I am talking about.

The second I hear this cough I immediately race to the pantry to find her children’s medicine. My preference for child cold and flu medication is Hyland’s Daytime and Nighttime. However, when I notice the signs early I usually start her on Mommy Bliss Cold and Cough. Mommy Bliss is my favorite for early signs of a cold simply because anytime I have given it to my daughter I’ve noticed her cough suppression immediately. Hyland’s is my second favorite because while it does suppress her cough, it does take longer for her body to respond to it. However, when it does she is not coughing consistently. The medication lasts longer.

That doesn’t change the fact though that right after a cough comes a runny nose! Back to the pantry for children’s Zyrtec! According to her pediatrician, Zyrtec helps dry up the mucus making it easier for her to breathe during the day and night. Before I know it I’m suctioning all the snot and boogers from her nose! Following the runny nose comes the irritability, fussiness, and clinginess. What worked for me this second time around of her being sick was actively wiping down and cleaning everything that was touched. More importantly, I noticed her sickness not lasting as long as the first round.

The key is actively cleaning the house with a sick baby running around. While it sounds exhausting having to care for a sick child and clean at the same time, it has its benefits. One of the benefits is I didn’t stay sick for an extended period after she passed her germs to me, and the same goes for my husband. These are things I wish I knew the first time around, but there’s a lesson to be had in everything right?

Signs and Symptoms of a Sick Child with RSV, COVID, and Flu According to the CDC

Now you don’t have to take my word for it. Like I said every sick child acts differently and responds to sickness differently. While my daughter may have that rough dry cough I mentioned, someone else’s child may become lethargic when they are naturally an active kid. However, that does not mean you should not be aware of the symptoms according to the CDC. While some of the symptoms of each virus are the same they can also be a little different. Therefore, it is important to take note of each.

sick child

The CDC says people who are infected with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) typically show signs and symptoms four to six days after coming into contact with the virus. Those symptoms include runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, and wheezing. While this may seem straightforward, these symptoms do not hit all at once. According to the CDC, they usually appear in a sick child in stages, and for very young infants the symptoms may only be irritability, decreased activity, and difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fevers or chills, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you think you or sick child may be experiencing symptoms of COVID you could always do a test at home with a home testing kit. Flu symptoms are relatively similar to COVID-19 symptoms. However, it is common for a sick child to have vomiting and diarrhea as opposed to adults.

See Also

Things They Don’t Tell You as a Parent with a Sick Child

Here’s what they don’t tell you as a parent with a sick child….your kid is likely to get sick back-to-back during the flu, COVID, and RSV season. It’s ignorant to think that it will be a one-and-done type of sickness. Nope, not at all the case. Especially if they are in school or daycare, you can expect germs to be spread everywhere and passed around from child to child. Now while this all may seem kind of scary or concerning, don’t let it overwhelm you. The good news is you child is likely to fight off the virus a second or third time around better than the first time because their bodies have developed a stronger immune system.

That is not to say however that you shouldn’t aim for your child to have a strong immune system before they get sick. According to Harvard Health Publishing, you can boost your child’s immune system by putting them on a healthy diet, making sure they get enough sleep, keeping them active, managing their stress levels, and making sure they are up to date on all their vaccinations. Don’t forget about the obvious precautions too such as teaching them to cover their mouths and nose when they sneeze and washing their hands.

The Takeaway

sick child

The bottom line is you cannot stop your child from getting sick. It’s the inevitable. You can do your best to prevent them from getting sick by keeping them on a healthy diet and staying up to date on their vaccinations. When you do have a sick child, it’s important to actively clean and wipe down anything he or she may touch. Not just for the benefit of your health, but so that the virus does not keep bouncing around the house back and forth. Lastly, I highly recommend going to Costco and getting children’s cold and flu medication, chicken noodle soup, pineapple juice, and orange juice, and having it on standby. There’s nothing worse than having a sick child and you don’t have everything you need to combat it. Don’t be like me and get caught with your pants down and have to make a quick run to Walmart with a fussy baby. Always be prepared. It’s better to have it all and not need it than to need it and not have it at all.

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