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Manage Illness at Home

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There are many viruses that spread during the fall and winter season.  The more common viruses that are causing illness in people right now are: Stylised cartoon depiction of a viral particle with various surface protein spikes

  • Rhinovirus (common cold) 
  • Influenza (flu) 
  • COVID-19 
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) 
  • Gastroenteritis (Stomach Bug) 

These viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics and can often be managed at home.  

The following chart may help you manage your symptoms at home and help you understand when it is time to see a doctor. 

Understanding Viruses and How to Manage Them

  Virus

Common Symptoms

Level of Infectivity

Managing Your Symptoms at Home

  When to See a Doctor

Common Cold

Stuffy nose
Sore throat
Sneezing
Cough
Low-grade Fever

Less contagious

Drink plenty of fluids

Rest and reduce activities

Take pain medications: acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever or body aches

Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash your hands often

Stay away from others to keep from infecting them

Wear a mask when around others

Viral symptoms should be managed at home

Flu

Body aches
Chills
Cough
Fatigue
Fever
Headache
Sore throat
Stuffy nose

Contagious

Difficulty breathing (gasping for air, shortness of breath, wheezing or trouble taking a breath in)

Severe or worsening cough

Dehydration from vomiting or diarrhea

A fever that lasts more than 72 hours

You have underlying heath problems (like heart or lung disease) or take immunosuppressants

COVID-19

Body aches
Chills
Fever
Fatigue
Cough
Diarrhea
Nausea/ Vomiting
Shortness of breath
Loss of smell/taste
Headache
Stuffy nose
Sore throat

More contagious

Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Runny nose
Sneezing
Cough
Fever
Wheezing

Very Contagious

Keep your child comfortable

Offer plenty of fluids

Give ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever

*DO NOT give over the counter cough and cold medicines for children under 6 years old

Take your child to the emergency if:

-your baby is under 3 months and has a fever

- your child has trouble breathing

- your child has lips that look blue

- your child is no longer able to suck or drink

Take your child to see a doctor if your child:

- has had a fever for more than 72 hours

- is not eating or is vomiting

- is not having wet diapers

Gastroenteritis in Adults

Nausea
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Stomach pain or cramps

Contagious

Drink plenty of fluids

You may not feel hungry (this is okay!)

Rest and reduce activities

Take Gravol for nausea/ vomiting

Good handwashing

You have a fever

You have severe stomach pain

You have blood in your stool/ diarrhea

You are not unable to keep fluids down for 24 hours

You are not urinating

Your symptoms are not improving after 48 hours

Gastroenteritis in Babies or Children

Nausea
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Stomach pain or cramps

Contagious

Keep your child comfortable

Offer plenty of fluids

Good handwashing

Your child has a fever

Your child seems tired or very irritable

Your child is in a lot of discomfort or pain

Your child has bloody diarrhea

Your child seems dehydrated

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease and Control (CDC)

Government of Canada

Toronto Public Health

University of Toronto

 
Managing Fever in Children

(Adapted from About Kids Health – Fever)

What is a fever?

A fever is a body temperature higher than 38°C.Temperatures between 37°C and 38°Care not considered a fever.

When your child gets a fever, it is a normal response to their body fighting an infection caused by either a virus or bacteria. It is part of their immune system trying to fight the infection. 

It is important to note how long the fever is lasting, not how high the fever is.

Always use a thermometer to measure your child’s temperature.

 Age of Child

 Most Accurate Temperature

 Alternative (Easier, but less accurate)

< 3 years old

Rectal temperature

Armpit temperature

> 3 years old

Oral temperature (under the tongue)

Ear (tympanic) thermometer

For help on how to correctly take your child’s temperature, click here.

How to take care of a child with a fever

  • Keep your child lightly dressed and use light blankets.
  • Ensure your child drinks plenty of fluids.
  • Use medication (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to help keep your child comfortable
  • DO NOT use aspirin to treat your child’s fever.
  • A child with a fever may not have an appetite and may not eat much. This is not a concern,if your child is taking plenty of fluids and is peeing regularly.

When to seek medical attention

Go to the nearest Emergency Room if:

  • Your child is less than3 months of age and has any fever over 38°C.
  • Your child develops a rash that looks like small purple dots that do not go away when you apply pressure with your fingers (blanching).
  • Your child is not able to keep down any fluids, is not peeing and appears dehydrated.
  • Your child is in constant pain.
  • Your child is lethargic (very weak) or difficult to wake up.
  • Your child has a stiff neck.
  • Your child has a seizure associated with fever for the first time or a long seizure associated with fever.
  • Your child does not use their arms or legsnormally or refuses to stand up.
  • Your child appears blue around the lips or is struggling to breathe.
Book an appointment with your Doctor if:
  • Your child is older than 3 months and has any fever over 38°C lasting more then 72 hours.
  • Your child is looking or acting sick, such as is less interactive and more irritable.
  • Your child seems to be working harder to breathe, such as breathing faster or you can see your child’s ribs when they breathe in (indrawing).

For more information, visit About Kids Health.

Additional Resources: