Kloee Sander World Herald staff writer
Grandpa’s old whiskey cough medicine hasn’t been approved by paediatricians for a long time. And with the plethora of blogs touting home remedies and drug aisles that promise to help your little one, it can be quite confusing to know what’s safe and effective.
“There are so many products that you can read about, that you can buy online, and you assume people will think they’re safe because they’re being sold and are supposed to be for a child or an infant,” he said dr Mikail Kraft, pediatrician at Methodist Hospital. “But I do advise parents to always read the label and make sure it’s FDA approved. If this is not the case, be sure to speak to your pediatrician.”
CHI family doctor Dr. Diva Wilson said, “Children are not small adults.” Parents shouldn’t treat them the way they treat themselves. Children should never take adult medicines, even in small doses. Parents should only give medicines that are made for their age and weight.
Colds are caused by a virus. Symptoms such as coughing and runny nose are good signs, because coughing protects the lungs from fluid buildup and snot helps get the “garbage” out of the body. Coughs can last up to four to six weeks, so parents should not worry immediately. However, if new symptoms, such as a fever, appear after a week, they should consider seeing a doctor, Kraft said.
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Cough medicines are not always the best option for children. It can often make children sleepy or make them misbehave.
Both Kraft and Wilson said giving children a teaspoon of honey is a great way to relieve coughs, and there is data to support its effectiveness. The honey coats the throat, soothes coughs and may help children sleep easier, Wilson said. Do not give honey to children under 1 year old. It can cause botulism, a potentially fatal disease.
It is important for a child with cold symptoms to feel comfortable. Cool mist humidifiers are ideal for all ages and can help keep mucus thin and clear for easier breathing. For children under 1, Kraft said, parents can put two to three drops of nasal saline in each nostril and use a bulb syringe to help them breathe.
“With (fever) there is a lot of confusion and you could ask 10 different doctors or 10 different nurses and you would hear 10 different things. But from what infectious disease doctors are telling us, there’s no such thing as a fever that a child gets from being infected too high,” Kraft said.
Fever helps fight infection and is a good body response. Kraft said for children, the difference between a 104-degree fever and a 101-degree fever is minimal. A baby younger than 2 months with a temperature of 101 degrees or if the child refuses to eat or wake up, parents should take him to the emergency room.
Children with a high fever are unwell and feel unwell. The primary goal of parents should be to make their child with a fever as comfortable as possible. Tylenol and Motrin for children can also be given at the right dosage and alternately, Kraft and Wilson said. Fever dehydrates the body, so parents need to give their child plenty of fluids. Cold baths are “uncomfortable and unnecessary,” but a cool rag or ice pack on the forehead can help children feel more comfortable, Kraft said.
Both Kraft and Wilson agree – hydration is key for children with stomach problems. Water, Pedialyte, and Gatorade are great liquids to give kids when their stomachs are upset. If they can’t hold down fluids or there is blood in their diarrhea or vomit, parents should take them to the hospital, Wilson said.
It’s okay if kids eat mostly liquids for three days. Parents should not force their children to eat balanced meals, but to eat simple foods. Bland foods are the best you can give them. Wilson recommends the BRAT diet: bread, rice, applesauce, and toast. When kids can keep fluids and bland foods down, parents can start reintroducing richer foods, Wilson said.
Peppermint is a proven home remedy for an upset stomach. If a child can handle the taste, parents can give them mint-flavored things to soothe their stomach. Decaffeinated tea and drinks like ginger ale and lemon-lime pop aren’t scientifically proven, but there’s no harm in having a baby either, Wilson said.
For most home remedies, Wilson said, “I’ll usually tell people if it doesn’t hurt you and you feel like it’s helping, go ahead and try it.” If it helps you feel better, that’s great!” Parents can always consult their family doctor or pediatrician before giving their child any medication or home remedies.
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