How to Help your Child Beat the Common Cold
Cold and flu season is in full swing. Children are at increased risk of catching colds due to their immune systems not being fully developed. The fact that they remain in close proximity to a lot of other children in school or daycare doesn't help things either. On average most children can get 8 or more colds per year.
Instances of colds do increase in the winter months, but probably not for the reason that you may think. The cold temperatures do not actually cause your child to catch a cold. But dry air does lower resistance to the viruses that cause colds. When the heat is running most homes have lower humidity, and outside air is also drier in the winter.
Is your child suffering from the common cold? Medicine can't cure a cold, but there are some things that you can do to help ease symptoms. Here are some tips that can help ease discomfort, and help your child beat the cold.
1. Give Plenty of Fluids
Giving plenty of fluids to your child can help reduce cold symptoms. Also, it can keep your child properly hydrated. Children generally do not feel as thirsty as they normally would when suffering from a cold. So, you should encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids such as water and juices to help them remain hydrated.
2. Get Your Child to Gargle
Gargling can help relieve the pain due to sore throat for a while. Mix a quarter 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water, for your child to gargle. Your child can gargle saline water as many times as required to ease the pain. Be aware that kids under 6 probably cannot gargle properly.
3. Clear Nasal Passages
Use a saline spray to clear out the nasal passages of your child. Most grocery stores and drugstores have saline sprays. You should spray into each nostril, and then ask your child to blow the nose. In addition, lifting the child's mattress a little can help sinuses to drain more easily thereby adding to the comfort of your child.
4. Run a Bath
A nice warm bath (or a heating pad) can help with the aches and pains that are common with colds. In most cases you can also give your child acetaminophen to relieve pain, just be sure to ask your pediatrician for the proper dosage. Never give a child aspirin to treat cold symptoms.
5. Add Moisture to the Air
Running a humidifier or vaporizer can help loosen congestion by adding moisture to the air in your home. Only use cool mist, and never steam. Humidifiers should be cleaned regularly according to the manufacturer's directions, and you should change the water daily.
The above tips can help your child to recover from the common cold. Almost all colds get better with time without medical help. However, if your child displays any of the following symptoms you should immediately contact a pediatrician:
- a persistent cough
- shortness of breath
- seems unusually drowsy
- inability to keep food or liquids down
- severely painful sore throat that interferes with swallowing
- fever of 103°F or higher, or a fever of 101°F higher that lasts for 2 days
- chest or stomach pain
- swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
For more information about the causes of colds and tips for preventing colds, see this article on the CDC website.
Contact Glen Allen Pediatrics to discuss any health-related issues regarding your child. You can dial 804-282-4210 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced pediatrician.