Although winter months bring kids the joy of hot chocolate, snow angels and rosy cheeks, it also brings the unfortunate side effects of sniffling, coughs and fevers. While illnesses and injuries are inevitable during the winter months, pediatrician David A. Quale, M.D. alleviates concerns for parents by offering advice on keeping kids healthy at home.
Quale and the other physicians at the new Wayzata Children’s Clinic in Maple Grove see children and adolescents ranging from birth through college age. While they see patients for a number of conditions, Quale advises on several situations that are perfectly treatable with a little care from parents. “As far as keeping kids at home, obviously there is a lot of illness and a lot of injury that can be managed at home without coming to see us,” Quale says.
During the winter months, respiratory symptoms like runny noses or coughs in children often concern parents. “Anything they can do to elevate their child when they sleep, even sticking a towel under the mattress just to get them propped up a little bit, really helps with how that post nasal drip drains, especially with the younger kids,” Quale says.
Some of the most effective treatments the doctor recommends are very simple, using resources parents have right at home. “Nasal saline and suctioning can help, especially in younger kids when their nose gets stuffy. Humidifiers can be helpful, or running the shower, shutting the door and steaming up the bathroom [will help] soothe some of those symptoms as well,” Quale says.
Headaches are another common symptom parents are likely to witness. “The first thing that helps headaches is hydration,” Quale explains. “Kids that are well hydrated and drinking a lot of water get fewer headaches. It’s definitely best to use the over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and Tylenol, though sparingly. They are more effective at treating the first sign of headaches than they are at reversing bad headaches,” Quale says.
Fevers factor into the list of ailments as well. “A lot of illnesses out there are just 24 to 48 hours of fever and possibly some other symptoms.” Quale says that acetaminophen and ibuprofen are very good medications for fever, and they can also help with pain. Parents can give their child a dose of Tylenol (an acetaminophen) or ibuprofen and check in after 30 minutes and see how their kiddo is doing.
Quale advises parents to remind children about the importance of frequent hand washing to decrease the spread of germs as well as covering their coughs to keep family members, friends, classmates and others around them as healthy as possible.
Finally, the pediatrician gives advice on the importance of staying active during the frosty months when it seems much easier to hibernate.
“As the winter months come, it gets colder and colder outside. For a lot of kids, their activity levels go down, so we encourage families to get their kids outside: go build a snowman, go sledding, go ice skating, things like that. And when it’s too cold to be outside, keeping them active with indoor activities: bowling, indoor roller skating or playing games is a good way to beat the winter,” Quale says.