Here are a handful of home remedies that will help you soothe your sick child during cold and flu season.
Your young child has a bad cold and you’re struggling to make her more comfortable — you go to the medicine cabinet to find something to provide relief but quickly realize you have nothing appropriate to give her, given her age Studies have taught us that, for children under age seven, cough medications provide no benefit and for those under age four, the risks can outweigh the benefits. That’s why recommended experts say that you should never give children under four any cold medications. So, what are you to do now?
Actually, for both young and older children there are some good home remedies that you can use. And in most cases, these treatments have been found to be more beneficial than over-the-counter medications. For example, saline washes of the nostrils and warm steam showers can help break up the nasal mucous and decrease cough spasms. A warm steam shower increases humidity and helps to keep the nostrils moist but if the rest of the house or bedroom is very dry you might consider using a humidifier in those rooms. For infants, in addition to the saline wash, make sure to suction your child’s nostrils to help extract the mucous.
Give your child lots of fluids — including warm fluids — to keep him or her hydrated, which helps thin out the mucous. There is no evidence that milk causes thicker secretions so whatever your child wants to drink let him have it. Cough syrups with ingredients like dextromethorphan have actually been found not to be beneficial under the age seven. However, ‘good old’ honey can help, especially dark buckwheat honey. Honey should only be given to children above age one because of the risk of infantile botulism. Infant botulism is an illness that happens when an infant digests contaminated honey with bacteria, Clostridium botulism, which produces a toxin inside the body. Older children have mature digestive tracts which can usually rid the body of the spores before producing any toxin.
So, for children above the age one, you can give ½ to 1 teaspoon (2.5 ml to 5 ml) as needed. The honey helps to thin out the secretions and loosens the cough. Remember all of these are symptomatic measures and it will take some time for the virus to pass. However, make sure to check with your pediatrician if your child is less than two months old, has a fever for more than two to three days, has symptoms lasting for more than a week, is having breathing issues or has severe ear or throat pain. The cough and cold season can be tough…keep washing those hands…sneezing in your elbow…and know your child may have up to eight to 10 colds a season. But rest assured, colds actually help build immunity…so there is a silver lining?
Do you have any home remedies you use?