Monthly Archives: January 2013

Is it a Cold or the Flu?

How do you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

With children, trying to figure out the difference between a cold, defined as;  A contagious viral upper respiratory tract cold_or_fluinfection. The common cold can be caused by many different types of viruses, and the body can never build up resistance to all of them, and the Flu, defined as; Short for influenza,  is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract.

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar flu-like symptoms it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone.

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense.

Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?
Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can be carried out, when needed to tell if a person has the flu.

What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?
In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense.  Most people who get the flu recover completely in 1 to 2 weeks, but some people develop serious and potentially life-threatening medical complications, such as pneumonia.

Colds are a frequent and recurring problem. Going out into cold weather has no effect on causing a cold. Antibiotics do not cure or shorten the duration of a cold.

Symptoms of a Cold include:
Symptoms of a cold can be felt about 1 to 4 days after catching a cold virus.

  • Burning feeling in the nose or throat
  • followed by sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • feeling of being tired and unwell
  • fever is not usually present
    This is the period when you are most contagious — you can pass the cold to others — so it’s best to stay home and rest.

If you are coughing up dark material — or feeling a lot of distress low down in your lungs,  you may have a bacterial infection. These symptoms can also be caused by a cold virus other than a rhinovirus (the most common viral infective agents in humans and the predominant cause of the common cold).

Usually there is no fever. In fact, fever and more severe symptoms may indicate that you have the flu rather than a cold.

Cold symptoms typically last for about three days. At that point the worst is over, but you may feel congested for a week or more.

Except in newborns, colds themselves are not dangerous. They usually go away in four to ten days without any special medicine. Unfortunately, colds do wear down your body’s resistance, making you more susceptible to bacterial infection.  If your cold is nasty enough, seek medical attention. Your doctor may take a throat culture by brushing the throat with a long cotton-tipped swab. This will show whether you have a bacterial infection, which requires treatment with antibiotics.

Call Your Doctor About a Cold If:

  • You notice an inability to swallow
  • You have a sore throat  for more than two or three days, particularly if it seems to be worsening
  • You have an earache
  • You have a stiff neck or sensitivity to bright lights
  • Your are pregnant or nursing
  • Your newborn or infant has cold symptoms
  • Your throat hurts and your temperature is 101 degrees F or higher
  • Your cold symptoms worsen after the third day. You may have a bacterial infection.

And, NEVER give a child or infant any medications that contain aspirin, or salicylates, due to the risk of triggering Reye’s Syndrome.

How Are Flu Symptoms Different From Cold Symptoms?
Unlike symptoms of a common cold, flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. It often starts with the abrupt onset of fever, headache, fatigue, and body aches.

  • fever (usually high)
  • severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles and around the eyes
  • generalized weakness
  • ill appearance with warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes
  • headache
  • dry cough
  • sore throat and watery discharge from your nose

Seasonal influenza is not usually associated with gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, at least not in adults. However, these symptoms appear with stomach flu, which is a popular but inaccurate term for gastroenteritis.

Common Flu Symptoms in Children
Typical signs of seasonal flu in children include high-grade fever up to 104 degrees F (40 degrees C), chills, muscle aches, headaches, sore throat, dry cough,  and just plain feeling sick. Flu symptoms in children may also cause vomiting and belly pain. These flu symptoms usually last for three to four days, but cough and tiredness may linger for up to two weeks after the fever has gone away.

And, NEVER give a child or infant any medications that contain aspirin, or salicylates, due to the risk of triggering Reye’s Syndrome.

Flu Symptoms in Infants and Toddlers
In young children, seasonal flu symptoms may be similar to those of other respiratory tract infections such as croup,   bronchitis, or pneumonia. Abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea are frequently observed in young children. Vomiting tends to be more significant than diarrhea. Fever is usually high and irritability may be prominent.

Because young children are at increased risk of getting severe flu complications, the CDC recommends that all children aged 6 months get a seasonal flu vaccine every year.

And, NEVER give a child or infant any medications that contain aspirin, or salicylates, due to the risk of triggering Reye’s Syndrome.

 Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of Reye’s Syndrome, a disease that can be triggered after a child suffers through a viral infection.   Reye’s Syndrome symptoms can often be mistaken for flu, or gastroenteritis, since vomiting is one of the first signs of Reye’s, followed by lethargy, listlessness, loss of pep, then confusion, irritability, and combativeness.

Do not give your child medications that can mask these symptoms, such as pepto-bismol, (of which, some products contain salicylates (aspirin)).

ALWAYS read the label before administering any Over the Counter medication to your child!  If in doubt, ask your pharmacist. 

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What To Do After Giving Your Child Aspirin

What To Do After Giving a Child Aspirin

3 phone calls within 30 minutes from moms who did not know about the aspirin – Reye’s Syndrome link.  All 3 moms inNo Aspirin Products for Children!  tears.  All 3 moms thinking they have seriously endangered their child’s life.

One mom, of a seven year old, asked her office co-workers if they knew of the danger of Reye’s and aspirin (salicylates). Half! yes, half! of her co-workers were unaware that aspirin products could trigger Reye’s Syndrome.  Half had never heard of Reye’s Syndrome!

This is very scary! The children of the half who were unaware of Reye’s are at terrible risk.

One mom stated that her mother told her “she always use to give her and her siblings aspirin, those little orange chew-ables , and that it never did any harm to any of them.”  They were lucky. Very lucky. Many other families lost children to those little orange chewable “baby” aspirins.

There is no cure for Reye’s. There is no test that can be run to determine if a child is susceptible to Reye’s after ingesting aspirin products.

The only thing a parent can do after giving their child aspirin is watch for Reye’s symptoms.

Symptoms usually show up AFTER the child begins to feel better, goes back to school, and begins to return to a normal everyday routine. They will be their normal selves, and then:

Vomiting is where it begins. The kind that hits hard and fast, without warning.
     This is the first Red Flag.
At the second or third bout of this vomiting, the child should be taken to the emergency room – preferably an emergency room at a children’s hospital.

Then, loss of energy – loss of pep. They will feel lethargic, not interested in playing.
Combine this with the vomiting, and you have a stronger case for Reye’s.

They will want to sleep a lot. They will be difficult to wake up.
They may lose some motor skills; be unsteady on their feet, walk into walls, not recognize where they are, be confused.
At this point, it is -absolutely- critical the child get to an emergency room where a diagnosis of Reye’s can be made.

They may become combative – not want you to touch them, or strike out at anything near them.
At this point, it is imperative the child be admitted to ICU and Reye’s Treatment begun.

Coma is the last phase.

The worst thing about Reye’s is that once Reye’s is triggered, there is little time. The faster the diagnosis of Reye’s can be made, and the treatment for Reye’s begun, the better the child has of surviving.

Most doctors will not think about Reye’s as a first diagnosis. Many of them have not seen a case of Reye’s. They will diagnose the problem as gastroenteritis, or meningitis, and many parents will be asked if the child is on drugs.

You, as a parent, will have to –insist– that your doctor test for, and rule out, Reye’s.

Most doctors think Reye’s has disappeared. We are here to tell you, sadly, it has not, and we receive case reports throughout the year.

If your doctor is unsure, and wants medical support from one of our specialists, all they have to do is call the Foundation at 800.233.7393  and we will put them in touch with one of our knowledgeable doctors.

We tell parents and caregivers; Reye’s is rare;  just watch for symptoms for about 10 days after the child begins to feel better. If symptoms appear, act quickly. We are more than happy to answer any and all questions, too.  Don’t hesitate to call or email us with your concerns. We are here to educate and support you.

Yes, Reye’s is rare, but it has not gone away. If Reye’s was gone, the Foundation’s mission would be accomplished and we would have dissolved.  We are still here because Reye’s is still here, and there are still parents and caregivers who do not know about Reye’s. The only way we can eradicate this horrible child killing disease is through education and awareness.

Save a child’s life, and a family unnecessary trauma and horrific loss, by spreading the word: Kids and Aspirin Products DON’T Mix!

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NRSF and Dick Van Dyke Go To The SAG Awards!

In 1987, Dick Van Dyke lost his granddaughter, Jessica Van Dyke, to Reye’s Syndrome.  Like so many others, Dick’s dickvandyke1relatives and friends had never heard of Reye’s Syndrome prior to Jessica’s death. When Dick found out about the lack of general knowledge on this childhood killer, he pledged his full support in bringing the awareness of Reye’s Syndrome to the public by volunteering to become the Honorary National Chairman for the National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation.

He donated his time and services to create a series of television and radio commercials for the National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation to raise public awareness about Reye’s Syndrome and the danger aspirin posed to children.  That same year, he became the official spokesperson for the National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation.

 Dick Van Dyke Warns about Reye’s Syndrome

  During that time, he also promoted Reye’s Syndrome awareness by appearing on the Phil Donahue Show and Hour Magazine co-hosted by Gary Collins. Dick participated in the Annual Jaime Beth Slavin Celebrity Golf Tournaments in support of NRSF’s Reye’s Syndrome research.

At the age of 86 he shows no signs of slowing down. This year, the Screen Actors Guild will award Dick its highest honor; The Life Achievement Award.

Screen Actors Guild & American Federation of Television and Radio Artists co-president Ken Howard called Van Dyke “an enormously talented performer whose work has crossed nearly every major category of entertainment.”

The 86-year-old entertainer will receive the honor at the annual Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony in January. His humanitarian work on behalf of the NRSF will be highlighted in a special segment.

Born December 13, 1925, in West Plains, Missouri, to Loren and Hazel Van Dyke, he grew up in Danville, Illinois. He is the father of Barry Van Dyke, and older brother of actor Jerry Van Dyke, who is best known for his role on the TV series Coach. His grandson, Shane Van Dyke, is also an actor and directed Titanic II. Dick’s career spans six decades.

Dick starred in the films Bye Bye Birdie, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show and Diagnosis: Murder. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, and he has already won a Tony, a Grammy and five Emmy awards.

Dick will be presented the performers union’s most prestigious accolade, given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession,” at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, which premieres live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, at 8 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. CT, 6 p.m. MT and 5 p.m. PT.  The work he has done with the NRSF will also be showcased.

Thanks for all you do, Dick! We’ll be cheering with you!  Chim, Chim, Cherri! 

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