{Ask a D-Mom} Cold & Flu Season

by Leighann on January 28, 2010

One of the things that I value about the online community I have found is being able to ask questions and receive advice from parents and patients who know exactly what I might be facing.

Do you have a burning question you would like answered? Maybe it’s something completely frivolous, but you just need to know.

Use the contact form to Ask a D-Mom (or D-Dad) your questions and we’ll try to answer them for you.

Cold and Flu Season

Regular reader Tracy writes:

Emily seems to be sick all the time! She started Junior Kindergarten in September and she seems to pick up all the colds. She has a runny nose, sneezing, chest congestion, and coughing (especially at night). We have taken her to the doctor and they just said it was a cold. Once they gave us low sugar amoxicillin, but it still didn’t clear things up.

Maybe it’s just winter and cold season. But of course having her with a cold just makes her numbers out of wack. Does your child take vitamin C or anything? Emily takes a Flintstones Children’s Vitamin in the morning, but vitamin C tablets are just full of sugar. Do you have any advice to get us through this cold season?

My thoughts:

If this is Emily’s first year of being around kids in a school setting, it’s probably common to get colds a lot.

Halls Defense Vitamin C Drops are sugar-free. But read the label because it might have sugar alcohols which can give some people diarrhea, upset their tummy, or affect blood sugars weirdly. I looked at the label of the Centrum Kids Multivitamin we have in our cabinet and each vitamin contains 100% of the recommended vitamin C.

We never ask for sugar-free antibiotics. But the pharmacist suggested to us that the tablet form of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc. is likely to have less sugar than the syrup. The reality is that most of these products contain artificial sweetener, not sugar. Read the labels, I only realized this after worrying about it!

My best advice is to get vaccinated as early as possible each year against the flu. (Read the posts Diabetes and Vaccinating against H1N1 and My H1N1 Vaccine Questions Answered; I talk about our sick days.)

And of course follow your care team’s recommendations for sick day management. I find that sometimes I see blood sugars rising before the first symptoms of a cold. When blood sugars rise, encourage rest and drinking lots of water.

Lorraine of This is Caleb says:

The number one thing we do to try to prevent colds is wash hands. Wash, wash, wash. It seems to be the best defense for us.

When my oldest son started preschool, he seemed to have a cold or runny nose all the time for the first few months. My sister, a veteran mom, told me this is common for kids when they start school, but they eventually build up an immunity and it will get better. That sounded a bit ridiculous to me at the time, but I have found it to be true.

My oldest brought those germs home to my younger kids who seemed to get the lion’s share of those sniffles out of their system before they started school. Now it’s just the occasional cough or cold or sneeze here or there (knock wood).

My kids take a children’s vitamin (although not religiously) but no other supplements. They have rarely needed antibiotics. In fact, the only time Caleb needed one was from a site infection a couple of years ago. Other than the occasional dose of Motrin and sugar free cough drops, there aren’t any other over the counter remedies I have used.

Rachel of What Life has Become says:

Oh isn’t cold and flu season so fun with a diabetic child! We’ve been very fortunate that Tristan hasn’t had too many colds (knock on wood). When he does, we usually manage it the same way that we do with his non-diabetic brother. We give Tristan over the counter medicine without looking for sugar free. For us, it hasn’t affected his blood sugar one way or the other. When Tristan was first diagnosed and he got his first cold, his diabetes team told us that it was fine to give him regular cold medicine.

We do however work hard on prevention. Tristan does take a multi-vitamin. Also we are fortunate that his school is very proactive in trying to stop the spread of colds. Tristan (and all the other children) know to cough in their elbows not their hands. We also use Purell at home and we send it to school for Tristan and the other children to use.

When we are unfortunate and Tristan does get a cold, we monitor his blood sugar very closely. Lots of rest and liquids. At night to help him with the coughing we will usually elevate his head a little bit by adding an extra pillow (I wouldn’t do that with a young child in a crib). The humidifier is also another thing that we use when need be. However, we have been told by his pediatrician not to use Vick’s Vapor Rub on him or in a humidifier because it irritates their breathing passage and can cause more damage. I hope this helps. I wish I had a formula to give you but I don’t! Hang in there, concentrate on prevention and TLC.

Do you have any advice for the cold and flu season?

Are colds inevitable or are they preventable?

Do you give your child a multi-vitamin and/or vitamin C?

Do you ask for sugar-free or low sugar antibiotics (or over the counter medicines such as Tylenol, etc.)?

Do you have any other advice for getting through cold & flu season?

(Please read the disclaimer. None of the comments given here represent medical advice.)

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tracy Shannon January 28, 2010 at 11:41 am

Thank you for all your help/advice!! It helps so much to hear from other moms!


2 Meri January 28, 2010 at 11:49 am

I found that good communication with the teacher is priceless. She can give you the heads up if a couple kids come down with the flu. I have taken my kids out for a couple days just to keep them from getting what was going around. Also, make sure they have a policy to wash their hands before eating snacks, and have your child wash their hands before they leave school. Little diabetics immune systems aren’t so great…taking extra steps go a long way. Good luck!


3 Renata Porter January 28, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I think it’s a great idea to work with the teachers to give you a heads up when there is someone sick in the class. However, I am old school in thinking that the surest way to get your kid incredibly sick is to have them avoid everything and clean too often. The body builds immunity by fighting off things like the common cold. Now understand that if someone in class has the flu, make sure your child understands how to try to stay clear of the cough/sneeze zone, but by point is balance. Several sick kids in the class or school, keep your kid home. One kid….just have yours stand clear.

The only other thing I would add to the comments above is that testing needs to increase. Maybe to every 2-3 hours if they are ill and are showing signs of high BS. I always let my kids go through a day and let their body’s fight off what is going on. If it seems that their temperature is really out of whack and we can’t get the BS numbers down, then we go in.

Last comment: My daughter was sick this year for the first time in 12 years. My son, only gets earaches time to time. I owe that to letting their bodies work until you have to step in.


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