Ahh Chooo!

Ahh Chooo!

Mark Stewart

Just about every parent agrees: Navigating the minefield of the cold and flu season often boils down to knowing your children and possessing some basic common sense.

The first rule of thumb: Virtually no one remains perfectly healthy through the winter. Last year, 25 million to 50 million Americans were infected with at least one virus, and young children contract up to six colds every winter, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

“The best method to prevent your child from catching a cold or catching the flu is to seclude them from other children, which is virtually impossible,” says Anthony Kotin, chief medical officer at Prudential HealthCare. Short of that, parents can investigate various Internet sites that will help them through the cold and flu season:

* KidCare (www.charm.net/jblake/kidcare.html), a general site for parents that provides tips on medical, safety and insurance issues concerning children, as well as links to other health and safety sites.

* KidsHealth at the American Medical Association (www.ama-assn.org), designed by the AMA and the Nemours Foundation, with information about safety and accident prevention, emergencies and first aid, baby development and childhood infections and a directory for hospitals and physicians that cater to the specific needs of children.

* The Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Website (www.ccmckids.org), with advice on colds and flu, plus tips on making and administering saltwater drops.

Parents who want to access Web pages for most major pharmacy chains, such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreen, can go to www.4colds.com, which has links to all those sites plus information on prevention and treatment of colds and flu and information on certain alternative medicines.

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