Tips for Taking Care of Your Family During Cold and Flu Season

Cold and Flu season has hit hard in the area where we live.

Our local walk-in clinic has been treating record numbers of patients. Schools in the region have canceled classes in order to stop the spread of illnesses between students and staff, disinfect classrooms, and to give those who are ill time to recover without assignments piling up.

Source: What is the Difference Between Cold and Flu? By Joseph Nordquist, 2004.

Everyone in my family has exchanged Strep throat, viral illnesses, and colds for the last three weeks. It has been tough to try to take care of the rest of the family while being ill myself and also finally get the kids well to only have them get sick again to weeks later. We’ve had five doctor visits in the last two weeks alone.

Some Basics About Flu and Colds
Each year, Americans get more than 1 billion colds, and between 5 and 20 percent of Americans get the flu. The two diseases have some symptoms in common, and both are caused by viruses. However, they are different conditions, and the flu is more severe. Unlike the flu, colds generally don’t cause serious complications, such as pneumonia, or lead to hospitalization.

No vaccine can protect you against the common cold, but vaccines can protect you against the flu. Everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against the flu each year. Vaccination is the best protection against getting the flu.

Prescription antiviral drugs may be used to treat the flu in people who are very ill or who are at high risk of flu complications. They’re not a substitute for getting vaccinated.


Since I’ve been thinking and discussing this topic a lot lately, I thought I’d put together a quick post that will hopefully be helpful to all of you!

Supplies to keep on hand

  • Electrolyte replacement drinks like Pedialyte, Gatorade, or Powerade
  • Pedialyte popsicles – I find these are very helpful when my kids have a sore throat and won’t drink, what kid wants to turn down a popsicle?
  • 7-Up; ginger ale; Sprite – My kids don’t generally get soda at all, so they jump at the chance to drink it (in moderation) when they are sick. I can usually get them to drink this if I can’t get them to drink water.
  • Hand sanitizer – I keep hand sanitizer in the car, attached to my purse, in the bathroom- basically all over the house. When we get in the car after preschool we use it. When we leave a store we use it…
  • Hand soap – I always keep a refill bottle so we don’t run out.
  • Nasal saline bottles – My youngest hasn’t figured out how to blow his nose yet so saline is very helpful to help flush out snot and help him breathe better. I label the bottles with each person’s name so there is no cross contamination.
  • Nasal aspirator – This is one item I couldn’t live without when my kids were babies. Our Cosco battery-operated nasal aspirator sucks out all the icky stuff and helps the kids breathe easier.
  • Vicks Vaporub – An oldie but a goodie. I like the cream instead of the ointment, but it really doesn’t matter. I always use it before bed when my kids have runny noses, stuffy noses, or coughs. I’ve heard many people rave about rubbing it on their feet and wearing socks but when I tried it I didn’t notice any effects.
  • Pain reliever – A pain reliever like Tylenol or Motrin can be helpful to ease body aches and reduce a fever. Be cognizant that many over-the-counter cold medicines already contain a pain reliever, so check the instructions to make sure you’re not taking a pain reliever on top of an OTC medication that already contains one. Please consult your physician before using any medications.
  • Facial tissues – Obviously, these are a must during cold and flu season. I place a small package in the backseat of the car with my daughter. We have them in almost every room.
  • Boogie Wipes – When my kids were babies we would use Boogie Wipes, which are like baby wipes wetted with saline, to help get rid of stubborn dried boogers and wipe sore noses. They were somewhat expensive but I got a lot less resistance when I tried to clean their noses.
Clean, clean, clean!
  • Disinfectant spray – I spray just about any surface my kids will touch with Lysol to kill as many germs and viruses as I can.
  • Cleaning wipes with bleach – These are very helpful to clean toys that you can’t submerge in water and to wipe icky spots on the go or around the house.
  • Humidifier – I never had a humidifier growing up, but purchased one when my daughter was a baby. I have found that it helps my kids breathe so much better when they are ill. Ours is a warm steam humidifier though, and I don’t care for it as well as others because it seems to make the room much more warm than is comfortable (to me, anyway.)
  • Lip balm, Vaseline, or lanolin – A protectant for chapped lips, noses, or other areas of the face is so helpful to keep them from becoming and feeling too raw, especially when you are constantly wiping or blowing your nose.
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What to do when you or your family is sick

Being ill or taking care of an I’ll family member can be difficult. Often all you can do besides treating the symptoms is provide comfort.

A warm blanket, lots of cuddles, a good movie, naps, and comfort food have gotten us through a lot of rough times.

Photo from Pexels

My daughter will often ask for warm milk with vanilla added to soothe her throat, as she doesn’t like tea with lemon and honey. I usually make a large pot of chicken noodle soup, the age-old remedy for being sick.

My favorite chicken noodle soup recipe


1 bag of noodles

2 stalks of celery

2 large carrots

1 small onion

1 tsp minced garlic

1 small can of mushrooms

1 box or large can of chicken stock

1 can of cream of chicken soup

Salt and pepper (to taste)


Dice the onion, carrots, and celery. In a small pan stir the butter, garlic, onion, celery, and carrots until softened.

In a large pot, add chicken stock, can of soup, chicken, and the frozen peas. Bring to a boil and add the noodles of your choice. I often use small dried homemade noodles or will buy the thick noodles found in the freezer section of the grocery store. I have also used plain egg noodles. Boil until noodles are softened.

Next, add the mushrooms and vegetables. Add salt and pepper, seasoning to taste.

Things to remember

  • There’s nothing wrong with wearing a surgical mask to help keep you germ-free, especially if you are out in public or to a doctor’s office.
  • Make sure to get a flu shot: prevention is best!
  • Keep a small trash can nearby to hold used tissues
  • Change pillow cases and other bedding
  • Wash favorite blankies and stuffies
  • Teach kids how to properly cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze
  • Push fluids as much as possible to prevent dehydration
  • Wash dishes with the dishwasher on sanitizer mode
  • Clean toys too! I use mesh lingerie bags to throw toys that can be submerged into the washing machine.
  • If you are prescribed antibiotics do not stop taking them if feeling better: continue the whole course and discard when finished. Do not save antibiotics.
  • If using cough and cold medicines for children follow the guidelines on the box and refer to your primary care physician for any questions and/or concerns
  • Keep any medications out of reach of children
  • Keep babies, young children, those with compromised immune systems, the elderly, or those with multiple comorbidities away from locations or situations where they may be exposed to illnesses
  • If you do have to take the kids to a clinic, be prepared with a tablet and a video, a coloring book, or some other distraction. The two times I took my son to the clinic last week we waited almost two hours in the waiting room. Little ones have a short attention span so have a go-to so you don’t go crazy.
  • Try to keep kids from sticking everything in their mouths. From fingers to pencils to toys to books, my kids are always putting something in their mouths.
  • Wash everyone’s often
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Wash your hands

.. we searched 4 electronic databases for hand-hygiene trials published from January 1960 through May 2007 and conducted meta-analyses to generate pooled rate ratios across interventions. Improvements in hand hygiene resulted in reductions in gastrointestinal illness of 31% and reductions in respiratory illness of 21%.

Effect of hand hygiene on infectious disease risk in the community setting: a meta-analysis.
Aiello AE1Coulborn RMPerez VLarson EL.

Kids are bad about washing their hands properly, so use a song to make it fun and educational

What ate your go-to remedies to ease the discomfort caused by a cold or the flu? Leave some comments below!

Disclaimer: None of the information above is intended to diagnosis, treat, or prevent illness or disease. Always consult a physician and seek medical attention as needed.

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