It’s the dreaded sound of winter; it starts with just a little sniffle, and before you know it, your kid is in the midst of a full-blown cold – a coughing, sneezing, mucous-producing bundle of germs. And once one person gets it, you know the whole family is going down. Yep, school and work will be missed, which sounds like fun except you’re all sick. With your busy lives, you just don’t have time to slow down. Oh, what to do? Put your kids into bed and surrender?
Most parents want to do more for their little ones so they turn to the bathroom medicine cabinet. Cough syrup, decongestants and antihistamines — these ought to eradicate those nasty cold symptoms, right? Don’t count on it.
A recent review of children’s over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medications revealed that these products are not all that effective in treating respiratory infections, the common cold or ear infections. And, beyond that, the dosing of these meds is often imprecise, creating a very real and dangerous risk of over-medicating. Despite their popularity, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that these medications should not be given to infants and small children. So how do you help your kids feel better?
- Try some honey in hot water — the honey coats the throat and the steam helps loosen mucous. (Do not give honey to children under 2 years old as it may contain botulism spores that may be deadly to small children.)
- To help relieve cold symptoms give kids plenty of fluids, including chicken soup, which has been shown to help ease symptoms.
- For a stuffy nose, try saline drops and bulb suctioning.
- To treat a cough a humidifier can help keep mucous loose, allowing for a good night’s sleep.
- To sooth a sore throat children who are old enough to gargle can try a salt water.
The best way to beat a cold is not to get one — so make sure your family washes their hands after using the bathroom and before eating at a minimum.
A final note: children under 3 should not be given cough or cold medicines unless prescribed by their pediatrician. Older children should only be given these meds under the advice of their physician and conservative dosing measures should be taken.