Pediatricians recommend home remedies for cough or cold
Cough and cold season is officially in full swing and children regularly catch seasonal illnesses, often several times per year. With all the medications promising relief, how should a parent treat the child?
Instead of turning to over-the-counter cough and cold treatments, parents should consider following the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations and try home remedies first, according to doctors at St. Luke’s University Health Network.
Q. Why not just buy over-the-counter cold and cough medicines?
A. Like all medications, even cold and cough medicines sold over the counter may cause serious side effects in kids, according to the AAP. Due to potential risks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends children younger than four years old never be given over-the-counter treatments.
Q. What does the research say?
A. Multiple studies have shown cough and cold products are ineffective in alleviating symptoms or shortening the duration of symptoms. If it doesn’t work and it may cause harm, you are better off using some of the tried and true “grandma” home remedies such as salt water or honey.
Q. What if the child has a fever?
A. Using a single ingredient fever/pain reducer at the correct dose is certainly a valid option if your little one has fever or pain as part of his or her symptoms.
Q. What are some pediatrician-recommended suggestions to give children relief?
A. There are safer, more convenient and less costly ways to give sick kids some relief from symptoms such as coughing and a stuffy nose.
•Runny nose: Just suction or blow it. Although antihistamines can be useful in treating nasal allergies, they won’t help relieve cold symptoms. Remember the nose is designed to make mucus, but you can keep clearing it.
•Stuffy nose: No medication can remove dried mucus from the nosebut nasal washes can help. Parents can make saline solution at home by adding one-eighth to one quarter teaspoon of table salt to eight ounces of warm tap water. A few drops of warm water will work, too. Using a humidifier or running a warm shower can help keep mucus from drying up.
•Coughing: Children under the age of three months should be seen by their doctor. Babies between three months and one year can be given one to three teaspoons of warm, clear fluids, such as Pedialyte® or apple juice, four times a day. Kids older than one year can take up to one teaspoon of honey as needed to thin mucus and loosen the cough. Research shows honey helps reduce the frequency and severity of nighttime coughing as well, but children must be over the age of 12 months to use it safely.
Q. Is there a situation where children do not need to be treated?
A. Children with coughs or colds may not always need treatment,. If the kids aren’t bothered by their symptoms, and continue to play and sleep normally, there’s no reason to use either over-the-counter or home remedies. These treatments are really only helpful if cough and cold is making the child uncomfortable and prevents them from sleeping.
Q. Are there any other recommendations?
A. Parents should call the pediatrician if the child’s symptoms worsen or if there is a fever lasting longer than a few days. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If your child has an underlying medical condition that may make it harder to handle the common cold or if you’re worried for any reason, call your doctor.