Getting the back to school blues (and colds and sniffles!)

Flo nasal family range products

Back to school tips!

by Mim Jenkinson, Tell Me Baby Australia

Is your child starting school or daycare soon? As many of us may have experienced, this time of transition can really impact a child’s health and well being, so we hope the following information offers some key insights in helping keep your kids healthy when starting school or daycare.

The bane of many parents’ lives is when their little one gets a cold. In the early years, there seems to be a relentless re occurrence of them. And even in the warmer, summer months, when most children start school or day care, this too can be a period of snotty noses and sneezes within many families.

So, what’s the deal with these constant colds?

Colds are a regular occurrence in babies and young children because they’re just starting to build up their immunity. It might feel like your child is constantly sick or that their cold seems to hang around forever, but be reassured this is quite normal in very young kids. Still, for many parents, knowing when to take your child to a GP or not, can be tricky. Parents sometimes take their children for treatment of a cough or cold expecting an antibiotic prescription.

However, antibiotics are not the answer for common viral infections. NPS MedicineWise cautions “Antibiotic resistance is a serious worldwide problem, and it’s happening in Australia.” 1 Antibiotics shouldn’t be prescribed in the case of colds and viral infections because they are ineffective because they are used to kill bacteria and not viruses.

If your child shows other symptoms other than a snotty nose, such as a temperature, fever, loss of appetite and/or is very unsettled then it’s a good time to see your GP. If they seem to be sporting a constant runny or blocked nose, it might not be a cold – it might be an allergy, such as hay fever.

Colds vs allergies

Colds and allergies (e.g. hay fever) have similar symptoms and it can be hard to tell the difference, especially as colds in children tend to linger or return quickly after an initial cold.

What is hay fever?

Asthma Australia states that hay fever (also known as allergic rhinitis) is “an allergic reaction to allergens, or triggers, breathed in through the nose – this causes an immune response in the lining of the nose where the nasal passages become red, swollen and sensitive.”Some children may experience hay fever at certain times of the year (e.g. spring or summer) and others experience them all year round. Common allergens include pollen, pet hair, dust, mould or more.

In the warmer months, allergens such as mould, summer grass pollens and pollutants may be the triggers of a person’s allergies.

At school or childcare, your child may be exposed to dry, windy playgrounds and pollen in the air. If their school is in a built-up area, then pollutants could pose a problem. And with warmer temperature and higher humidity, there’s the issue of increased mould spores3 which are not particularly easy to identify in the home or at school or childcare.

What symptoms should I look out for?

If your child is suffering from some of the following symptoms, she/he may have an allergy and should see your GP.

  • Itchy, runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Always feeling like you have a head cold
  • Throat clearing or coughing to clear the throat
  • Mouth breathing
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

A more recent study has also shown that night time bed wetting is common in children with allergic rhinitis, particularly in young boys4.

There is a wide range of different options to help relieve hay fever symptoms but sound medical professional advice is key because treatment depends on many factors including age and severity and frequency of hay fever symptoms. For more information, visit Asthma Australia’s website.

How can a cold or allergy impact sleep?

Infants up to the age of two months are obligate nose breathers5. This means that when their nose is blocked, they do not instinctively know to breathe through their mouth which, can result in disrupted sleep. Whether a baby is bottle fed or breastfed, a blocked or congested nose may also interfere with feeding as breathing through the nose may be very difficult during suckling.

Toddlers and young children may also wake frequently during the night due to the discomfort of a blocked, itchy or runny nose.

What can be done?

For newborns, infants and children, a simple nasal saline, preferably one that can be used daily, without any preservatives, can be very useful in tackling a congested nose from a cold or allergy. A nasal saline can help thin mucus, wash away allergens and germs and as a result, help your child breathe easier6. Whether you or your child has a cold or an allergy, Flo’s extensive family range of preservative-free products can help relieve symptoms of either.

There’s a product for every age in the family including Flo Baby Saline Drops or SprayFlo Kids Saline SprayFlo Saline Plus and Flo Sinus Care.

The Flo family range is also:

  • Non-medicated and preservative-free for gentle daily use
  • Effective in relieving nasal congestion for both colds and allergies
  • Quick and easy to use to make dosing completely hassle-free
  • Available in most pharmacies throughout Australia
  • Supports the work of Asthma Australia

Flo Baby Saline Spray was recently awarded the best baby healthcare product by Tell Me Baby Members (Australia’s top parenting review site). Parents love how effective it is but also how easy is to use, as it can be sprayed at any angle. This means that using it on the wriggliest of babies is a breeze!

Flo spray products can easily be popped into a school or daycare bag too so that your child can get some relief from a runny, itchy or blocked nose even when they away from home.

Always read the label. Use as instructed. If symptoms persist, talk to your healthcare professional.

Don’t forget that along with regular nasal washing with saline, regular hand-washing is also important for both adults and little ones, to prevent the spread of germs. Here’s wishing both you and your child a smoother, healthier transition to school or daycare this summer!


Online References:

  1. NPS Medicinewise
  2. Asthma Australia
  3. AMI Environmental
  4. NEJM Journal Watch
  5. International Journal of Pediatrics