Coughs, colds, and fever. Whether you
are an experienced parent or new to the
gig, when your child is sick you worry.
Lynn Auck, a dual certified nurse practitioner
at Northwest Ohio Orthopedics
Urgent Care and mom of 2, is here to put
your mind at ease. Auck says that the
most common illnesses she sees during
the winter months are respiratory related.
“We treat a lot of croup, upper respiratory
infections, RSV, and flu during the
winter.” She’s helped us break down the
symptoms, home remedies, and red flags
for the 5 most common winter illnesses.
Upper Respiratory Infection
(a term for the common cold)
Symptoms: Nasal congestion, cough, sore
throat, and low grade fever
Duration: Symptoms can last up to 14
days, building over several days and peaking
between days 3 and 5.
Home remedies: Using a cool mist humidifier
at night, saline spray with nasal
suctioning, propping your child up with
pillows to sleep, standing or playing in a
steamy shower, and Vick’s on the chest
and neck. Auck suggests consulting with
your doctor at a well check about over the
counter medications and dosages you can
use at home to reduce fever or alleviate
When to call the doctor: If you don’t see a
significant improvement of symptoms after
14 days, a fever higher than 100.4 after
a 5 days, or the development of new or
“secondary symptoms” such as ear pain
then it’s time to call your doctor.
Symptoms: Coughing is the body’s response
to an irritant in the throat such as mucus or
Duration: Acute coughing, due to illness,
can linger up to 4 weeks.
Home remedies: Adding moisture back
into the air makes it more comfortable to
breath. Use a cool mist humidifier in your
child’s bedroom or have him or her play
in a steamy bath or shower. Offer fluids
throughout the day to ease sore throats.
Honey is also an option to soothe the
throat if your child is over the age of 1 year
old. Many coughs are caused by postnasal
drip so suctioning or nose blowing can
help relieve coughs.
When to call the doctor: Contact your doctor
at any sign of respiratory distress such
as nasal flaring-if your little one looks like
he or she is breathing like a dragon, rib
retracting-if you can see your child’s ribs
as he or she is breathing, or the appearance
that the child is using his or her neck
muscles to breath.
Good to know: A tight, barky cough is
croup a highly contagious virus that typically
gets worse at night.
Symptoms: Fever is a temporary increase in
body temperature (over 100.4) due to illness.
Duration: Fevers can last 3-5 days.
Home remedies: With the guidance of their
doctor, parents can use a fever reducing
medication such as Motrin or Tylenol. The
American Academy of Pediatrics does
not recommend alternating medications
Motrin and Tylenol, rather advises routinely
giving Tylenol or Motrin as directed
on the packaging or by your doctor. Auck
recommends Motrin because it lasts longer,
6-8 hours, and “it’s better pain relief
in addition to reducing the fever.”
When to call the doctor: Seek medical
attention if your child has any trou ble
breathing, shows signs of dehydration,
seems lethargic, or if you notice behavioral
changes. If the fever is uncontrolled,
meaning medication is not reducing your
child’s temperature. Finally, if your child
is less than 3 months old call your
doctor immediately due to any fever
over 100.4 degrees.
Noro Virus (fancy name
for G.I. bug)
Symptoms: include diarrhea, vomiting,
nausea, stomach pain, body ache, headache.
Duration: Symptoms can last, on
average, 1-3 days.
Home remedies: Giving your child small
amounts of an oral replacement, such as
Pedialyte, over the course of the day can
help prevent dehydration. Auck recommends
making a game out of drinking
Pedialyte using tablespoons or measuring
cups. Allowing your child to take turns
pouring the oral replacement or counting
how many spoonfuls they have been able
to keep down in a 30 minute period. Frequent
hand washing with warm, soapy
water can prevent spreading the virus to
those around you.
When to call the doctor: Contact your
doctor at any signs of dehydration; less
than 3 wet diapers in a 24 hour period,
unusual sleepiness, crying with few or no
tears, or behavioral changes.