Two days into October, with Fall officially here, cold season is upon us which only means one thing: flu season will soon be here. With kids already sniffling, though, parents are asking: what can we do to help our kids feel better?
If you think back to last year, cold and cough medications are no longer recommended for kids – they simply don’t work and are dangerous. Due to improper use and dosing, too many kids in the past have been giving fatal combinations of over the counter cold and cough medications that had become household names.
Last year, there was a voluntary recall of those medications for infants and toddlers after the FDA issued very strong warnings about those dangers. This year, physicians are urging the FDA for a similar recall for kids under 6 years of age.
Colds are viruses and viruses take time to heal. Medications are designed to help with symptom relief but do nothing for duration or cure. If the medications are dangerous and potentially fatal, they are simply not worth the risk.
- have your kids wash your hands a lot
- teach them to sneeze and cough into their elbow
- have tissue on hand and show them how to use it
- make sure they stay hydrated with oral rehydration fluids or sports drinks (kids need the extra sugars and salts when sick!)
- use a saline nose spray to keep the nasal passages open
- use mist to help your child breathe more easily
- encourage solid foods as tolerated by appetite
- treat fever with Tylenol or Motrin/Advil: we’ll believe you if you tell us your child had a fever at home…don’t let them cook to prove the point to us.
Many parents worry because they feel that treating the symptoms is the only way to ward of complications such as pneumonia or to prevent a simple cold from becoming worse and “developing into something else”. Viruses don’t work that way. Viruses last 7-10 days and during that time, a bacteria can enter the picture causing a secondary infection such as a pneumonia or ear infection. This variable is impacted as much by luck as it is by the hardiness of your child’s immune system.
Finally, if your child is sick, be sure your child stays home until fever free for a full 24 hours. That will help ensure that other kids are protected from your child’s illness, and maximize your child’s chances of avoiding other issues, like those bacteria trying to make a house call.