The FDA has recently stated that it is not safe to give cough and cold medicines to children under two because of potentially life-threatening side effects. Last fall the FDA strongly recommended not to use them prompting drug companies and stores to stop selling them. They said that it was questionable if they even worked in children under 6. The FDA has not decided if the OTC medicines are advisable for children from 3-6 and will decide by next fall.
So now what. You have a young child, it has the sniffles, a cold, or a cough. You have traditionally gone to the drug store and gotten one of these OTC medicines. Well, there are options. Alternative medicine has been used for thousands of years to help combat the cold season for people of all ages. The obvious, although sometimes not so obvious is rest and fluids. Rest, meaning stop, stay home, and rest. Sleep as much as needed, and allow your body to restore and repair. Fluids – tons! Drinking fluids for kids will help the mucous thin and soothe sore throats. A tea made of honey and lemon (honey should not be used in children under 1) can also help. This combination is tried and true to help soothe dry and sore throats. A cool mist humidifier while they sleep can help keep their nasal passages and lungs moist during the night. If their noses are completely stuffy, have them try to blow it. If they are not at that stage yet, a nasal aspirator can help. Gently suction out the mucous. A saline spray/drop can also be used to thin out mucous. Have them also sleep slightly propped up in bed. If they sleep on a pillow, then use a rolled up towel underneath, if they are in a crib, you can put the same under the crib mattress. This helps with coughs and stuffy noses. For coughs, sometimes standing in the bathroom with a hot shower going can soothe their cough. If it is croup, going outside in the cold air can help. Hydrotherapy on a little ones chest can help ease symptoms and increase their immune system. This includes alternating a hot and cold washcloth on their chest for a total of three times each. Make sure the child stays warm and does not catch a chill. A mentholated salve with a combo of menthol, eucalyptus and camphor rubbed on the chest can also help. Have them stay away from dairy products, as they can increase the production of phlegm. Stick with “clear” foods, like soups. If there is a fever, keep the child in loose fitting clothing, don’t bundle, or plunge into a cold water bath. Cool washcloths on the forehead are ok. Fevers are pretty “normal” for kids, although you want to contact your primary care if they have a fever over 104 or a fever for more than 3-4 days. Childrens Tylenol or ibuprofin can be used if they seem really uncomfortable. Never use aspirin.
The most important thing for kids is constant hand washing. This will help prevent a cold to start with and help prevent its passage “around the house”. Also, most important is lots of love and cuddle time. A good movie, their favorite blanky, and mom and dad are some of the best remedies a kid could ask for!
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