Ah Choo! Not another COLD!!!

Written by: Allison Foster

In addition to snow plows and shovels scraping the streets and sidewalks, sneezing and coughing are familiar sounds of this time of year.  Colds are most common during this season, not because of the frigid weather, but due to the fact that we all huddle indoors together and increase the spread of viruses that cause the common cold.  So much for the season of sharing and giving!

When it comes to our little ones, we all know that the common cold can really cause significant discomfort and illness for what seems like an eternity.  Unlike adults, who average about 3 colds per year, kids typically have 2 to 3 times that amount of colds each year, and each cold can last for 2 weeks at a time.  Many kids end up with back-to-back colds that make it seem as though your child has been sick forever!  There are close to 200 cold viruses out there, and when you combine that with a child’s developing immune system you end up with lots of sneezing, coughing, and stuffy-nosed kids.

Since colds are caused by viruses, and not bacteria, there are no medications that will get rid of the cause of the illness.  Antibiotics won’t work because they only get rid of certain types of bacteria.  Therefore, you must rely on lots of symptomatic relief measures to help soothe your little one while their immune system does all of the work to get them better.   So the next time your child’s doctor says “it’s just a cold,” try these safe home remedies to help your little one feel better!

·       Nasal saline drops and bulb syringes(all ages)

Gentle salt water drops help clear the nose of mucous when kids are too young to blow their noses.  Babies also benefit from this when a stuffy nose interferes with feeding.  I suggest using it 10 minutes before a feed and as needed throughout the day.

·       Cool mist vaporizer(all ages)

Breathing in moist air loosens the mucous in the nasal passages and makes it easier and more comfortable to breathe.  Avoid using a warm mist vaporizer that can be dangerous to little toddler hands that like to pull things down.

·       Baby-safe vapor rubs(3mos and up)

For babies above the age of 3mos, baby-safe vapor rubs(only contain oils and eucalyptus) applied to the chest or back help baby breathe more comfortably by producing a cooling sensation in the nose.  Babies should not be exposed to vapor rubs containing camphor or menthol.

·       Honey (12 mos and up)

Honey is proven to alleviate coughs and soothe sore throats.  In fact it works better than OTC cough medicines that are not recommended or safe for young children anyway. Honey is not to be given to babies under 1 year of age for risk of infant botulism.

·       Acetaminophen(3mos and up or doctor approved)

Acetaminophen will not get rid of the cold but can help alleviate the fever and aches that cold viruses can cause.  Consult with your pediatrician’s office to confirm the correct dosage for your child.

As always, if your child’s symptoms seem worse than what you would expect for a cold, or your child is not getting better after 3-4 days of symptoms, contact your pediatrician for an appointment.  Otherwise, hang in there and know that as each winter passes, your child’s immune system will be better equipped to protect them from the next cold season!  

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 11:58 AM