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Common cold is indeed common- be it kids or octogenarians, there is no age bar of catching this nuisance of a condition. But when kids and young children catch, it can make them difficult and make them even more uncomfortable than adults.
Colds usually have a life period of 4 to 10 days. Even without medicines or remedies, colds will automatically heal within this period. However, the symptoms in this period can be overwhelming for children.
So remedies that manage the symptoms are very useful, even if they fail to get rid of the actual cold. Some of the remedies are also useful in shortening the shelf life of the cold. If the cold is due to some allergen, that can be treated with over the counter drugs that work wonders in getting rid of the cold quickly.
1. Saline Drops:
If your child has a stuffy nose, then there is nothing better than saline drops administered directly into the nasal canal. Sometimes children get fidgety at the idea of saline drops and may wriggle too much to be administered saline drops. If your kid is just as picky about saline drops, you can use the saline nasal sprays. Ask your child to blow his nose hard before using a clean, sterilized atomizer to spray some saline solution into his nose.
However, it is important to keep the humidifiers clean. Humidifiers pose ideal environment for mold, mildew, bacteria and such germs to grow. Unless it is thoroughly cleaned before use, it can send jets of harmful bacteria floating in the air and end up doing a lot more harm than a common cold.
A steaming shower or a steam bath is equally good in clearing up clogged noses. Here, along with the humid, warm steam there is a constant flow of hot water, which helps children in breathing more easily. If your child likes long baths, let them do so in a tub filled with warm, almost hot water. This is also helpful when your child is running a fever along with clogged nasal passages.
4. Vapor Rub:
Vapor rubs can be used on babies right from the age of 3 months. However, make sure that the vapor rub is suitable for children (that is, it has no warning against use on children). Usually, vapor rubs that have camphor or menthol are not recommended for use on children younger than two years. Vapor rubs made of natural ingredients like aloe, herbs, essential oils and beeswax are usually safe for little children. There are several recipes of homemade vapor rubs that you can use to make some of your own.
Honey acts as a soothing coating on the sore throat. Warm the honey a little which will make it a little runny. Let your child have a teaspoon of the warm honey. You can also add a few drops of lemon juice with it. This adds a zing to honeyâ€™s cloying sweetness and also delivers vitamin C to your child. However, be careful not to give honey to children younger than 12 months as this may lead to botulism, which can even be fatal for very young babies.
6. Extra Fluid:
Common cold often leads to dehydration. Sore throat along with dehydration can be a very painful condition, especially for children. That is why, it is important that your child keeps up his intake of fluids. Since sore throat makes it difficult to swallow, allow him to have his favorite fluids. Let him have chocolate milk or hot cocoa or fruit juice. Fruit smoothies made of your kidâ€™s favorite fruits is a very healthy option. For babies less 6 months of age, it is best to stick to milk or formula.
If your child has a sore throat, it helps to gargle with salt water. Sore and irritated throat is usually caused by swollen cells along the throat"s lining. Gargling with salt water helps in extracting the extra fluid from these cells through osmosis. So this time honored tradition indeed has a solid scientific reason. In a glass of warm water, add half a teaspoon of salt and ask your child to gargle. This remedy, of course, is not suitable for very young children who have not got the hang of gargling yet.
8. Elevating Head:
When your head is in a horizontal position, mucus clogs up the nasal cavities more easily, making it difficult to breathe. To prevent this, let your child sleep with his head slightly elevated. You can fold towels or an extra pillow to form the right height. If your baby sleeps in a crib, use a single towel, folded in quarters, under his pillow. You can insert extra pillow under the mattress for a more comfortable slope to sleep on.
9. Nose Blowing:
Blowing the nose can just do the trick if your child has recently caught a cold. Ask your child to blow his or her nose into paper towels every time you hear them breathing noisily. It may be difficult for children below 4 years of age to do this properly, so teach them by example. Show them how to blow your nose. If the skin on his nose gets sore from blowing and rubbing, rub a little petroleum jelly on it.
10. Neti Pot:
Neti pot helps in flushing the nose with saline water. This moisturization of the nose thins out the mucus and unclogs the stuffed nose. However, it must be kept in mind that the water used for this purpose must be distilled. Tap water contains certain bacteria that our stomach acid kills, therefore is suitable for drinking. But these can cause infection in the nasal cavity.
11. Chicken Soup:
Chicken soup is a very soothing warm liquid that helps in case of irritated throat. Chicken soup also loads your child up in lots of minerals. Make sure you serve the soup warm and not very hot. Too hot soup will make the throat even more irritated.
Peppers or any kind of spicy food is great if you have nasal congestion. Peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which is chemically similar to guaifenesin, an over the counter cough syrup. Eating peppers leads to thinning of mucus and easy removal from the nose.
13. Asian Pear:
Asian pear and honey make for a great cold fighting remedy. In fact, honey steamed pear is an old Korean cough remedy. Your child can either eat the pear whole or you can steam the pear with honey and ginger (scoop out a ball from a halved pear and place the honey and ginger in it to steam) and serve warm.
Zinc helps in fighting all of the symptoms of common cold. In fact, zinc lozenges are prescribed to kids whenever they start exhibiting the first signs of a cold. The lozenges usually have 15 to 25 milligrams of zinc gluconate glycerin or simply zinc gluconate per unit.
15. Vitamin C:
There is some scientific backbone to the fact that vitamin C helps in boosting your immune system. And healthier the immune system, shorter the life span of a cold. So, eating vitamin C can essentially reduce symptoms of colds. However, it is only possible if your child takes a lot of vitamin C and it is harmful to take such high doses of any vitamin in the short term. So simply make sure your child has lots of vitamin C rich food in his daily diet so that he can be better geared to face a cold next time.
16. Soft Food:
The throat is often sore during this period which makes eating and swallowing very hard. This, coupled with loss of appetite, can be harmful for your kid. Warm, soft foods like puddings help in restoring appetite and also donâ€™t hurt the throat.
17. Holy Basil:
Holy basil is an old Ayurvedic treatment for cold. You can wash the leaves and let your kids chew it up or let the leaves steep in tea before letting them drink it.
18. Cough Drop:
If your child is coughing a lot during his common cold, you may want to give him cough drops. Cough drops help in cooling and soothing the scratchy, irritated throat. Sometimes they are medicated with benzocaine or many contain menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus oil, honey or spearmint. Make sure there is no lower age limit to consumption of the cough drops before you give them to your child.
Aspirin is an analgesic which helps in reducing pain. It also helps in bringing down a fever if your kid happens to be running one. But be careful while administering. Aspirin has been associated with Reyeâ€™s syndrome in kids, so consult a doctor before giving it to your kid.
Ibuprofen is another pain killer that soothes aching muscles and helps in bringing down the fever. To safely give your child ibuprofen, consult a doctor first.
Acetaminophen helps in case of cold and inflamed sinus cavity. However, you must check with the doctor to make sure the dosage is right.
Garlic has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties which help in fighting the cold or flu virus. Eating a raw clove of garlic is the best way, but your kid may find the idea revolting. So mash up a clove, mix with some honey or olive oil and salt. Spread on a piece of cracker and let your kid eat it.
If your kidâ€™s cold roots from an allergen, antihistamines are ideal. Again, like all the over the counter drugs, this must be administered with caution and the dosage must be fixed by the doctor.
24. Elderberry Syrup:
Elderberry syrup is a great herbal remedy for colds. To make the syrup, boil the berries in water until they turn pulpy. Smash and strain the mixture; add honey to the syrup according to taste. Honey and elderberry together makes for a great cold remedy.
Ginger is one of the greatest cold and flu natural remedies. You can either increase the amount of ginger in food, or if your kid is very patient, grate a piece of ginger and let him swallow half a teaspoon.
26. Ginger and Lemon Tea:
Lemon contains a lot of vitamin C and ginger has cold fighting properties. So a tea brewed with both can deal cold a powerful blow.
28. Calling Emergency:You Must Call Your Local Emergency If:
- Your infant is grunting while trying to catch his breath
- Your childâ€™s lips, nail bed or gums have become bluish
- Your kid stops breathing for over 10 seconds
29. Calling the Doctor:You Have To Call The Doctor If:
- Your child is very weak
- He doesnâ€™t want to play
- He is wheezing
- Your infant is incessantly crying despite tries to calm him
- Fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in babies younger than 3 months
- Fever that persists for more than three days in older babies
30. Preventive Measures:
- To make sure your child doesnâ€™t catch a cold, you can take the following preventive measures.
- Wash hands regularly, especially before eating or coming home from outside.
- Take multi-vitamin supplements daily
- Drink lots of fluids
- Donâ€™t allow smoking near the child
- Keep the surfaces of your house clean
- Wash his toys and other belongings after his cold is healed
- Use paper towels when anyone has come down with a cold and safely dispose of them immediately after use.
These simple tips will take you a long way in keeping colds at bay. Remember a childâ€™s immune system is growing and hence he or she is more susceptible to colds and allergies. Home remedies are by far the best way to treat a childâ€™s cold without any side effects.