Tips for Treating your Childs Cold!
Did you know that children get colds more often than adults? This probably explains why we seem to be dealing with coughs and colds the whole way from September to June in the pharmacy! Colds are viral illnesses which cause a whole variety of symptoms including blocked noses, sneezing, running nose, sore throat, hoarseness, a cough, watery eyes and sometimes a high fever. Here’s a quick list of my top tips for dealing with colds in children or babies (you might even use some of the tips for yourself!).
- Colds are self limiting usually which means that they will go away by themselves. That means the focus should not be on curing the cold, but relieving the symptoms instead. Is your little one suffering from a cold or congestion? It can be so frustrating for them as when they are feeding they rely on their little noses to do all of the breathing work!
- There can be many causes of nasal congestion, for example it may be due to a common cold or virus or it may be due to something like hayfever or an allergy. Allergies are treated with anti-histamines available in Grant’s Pharmacy for your little one, but congestion caused by a cold or flu can be treated as below.
Luckily there are lots of ways you can help congestion in kiddies. Saline nasal sprays are a great way to clear their little noses before a feed or before bed. I would recommend the Calpol nasal saline spray as it seemed the gentlest spray after much investigation! It’s suitable from birth. Some of the other sprays can be a little stronger but I have found that this can be quite a shock to a baby and will give them more of a fright!
- Some people prefer the saline nasal drops like Nasosal brand which are also suitable from birth – but can be a little bit more fiddly to use! It’s really important to close one nostril while squirting the product up the other! It’s like you are flushing out the nasal passage-ways and I admit that babies hate it – I’ve had 5, so I have had lots of experience here. But it does work and darling baby gets over the stress in minutes.
- A nasal aspirator can be used for persistent blocked noses – this is handy just before a feed to help your little one breath and suck better. These look scary but actually are quite easy to use. It’s kind of like hoovering out the nose! For really gunky noses, it’s a great choice. Additionally, it works instantly and is a quick (short lived) fix before a feed.
Put a few drops in the dish on your vaporiser!
Olbas oil for children is great to alleviate congestion in children over three months of age. It contains a natural formulation of pure plant oils which restore easy breathing. It is useful when your little one has a cold, flu, blocked sinuses or hayfever. It contains cajuput oil, mint oil, eucalyptus oil and levomenthol. For babies over three months you can add two drops to a muslin square or their pyjamas allowing the child to breath in the vapours. It works really well with the vicks vapouriser which is described next!
- My personal favourite is the Vicks Steam Vapouriser. If a baby is very congested this steam vaporiser can be left running overnight in their bedroom – a worthy investment as there is only so much time a busy Mammy can spend in a steamy bathroom! This product helps to keep mucus thin and running and stops it accumulating in the chest. It can help to reduce the risk of infection and offers great relief of symptoms of coughs and colds in babies – especially overnight when they can be most troublesome! You can also add a few drops of olbas for children to the dish on the Vicks vaporiser when children are older than three months. This helps to keep the sinuses clear which reduces congestion and prevents a build up of mucus in the chest. I have to say the vick warm steam vapouriser is without doubt the most useful healthcare product I have bought for my children. We have used it from birth up to six years regularly. There are no refills to buy so it’s only a once off cost and refills with water – simple.
- Another tip for a congested baby or toddler is to try to tilt your baby’s cot a little so that they are not lying flat to help to prevent a nasal drip from running down and irritating their airways causing a cough. This can be achieved by placing a book under the top two legs of the cot or by placing a pillow or blanket under the top end of the mattress.
- Vicks VapoRub is used to relieve nasal catarrh and congestion, sore throats and coughs due to colds in children over 2years. It contains aromatic ingredients such as Menthol and Camphor to calm a cough, Eucalyptus and Menthol to relieve nose congestion, and Eucalyptus to relieve catarrh. It is designed to be massaged into the chest and back to help clear the passages and promote easy breathing. It can also be melted into hot water and inhaled as a steam for a quick and effective way to clear congestion.
If your baby is persistently congested or their mucus is a colour other than clear such as yellow, green or red then do bring them to their GP.
- A cold might linger for a couple of weeks and it’s common enough for kids to have caught another one before clearing the first so it can feel like it is just never ending! Just be reassured that unfortunately it is normal and so long as they aren’t battling a high temperature or showing any respiratory infection signs then you are able to continue to treat them at home.
- If they are battling a fever you can treat it with paracetamol or ibuprofen as appropriate –
- It’s important to consider a multivitamin if your child is suffering from recurrent colds – I have a few favourites such as Pharmaton for young kids and Sambucol for children. These are of benefit if your child is a fussy eater and refuses to swallow the healthy options we’d all love to see them fill up on.
- If you are worried about a persistent sore throat, cough, sore ears or fever do get your little one checked out by a doctor as it’s possible for a common cold to lead to a secondary infection or any of those areas. Unfortunately antibiotics do absolutely nothing for viral infections so if your doctor has no reason to think its bacterial then you should be happy to just continue with the symptom relief until it resolves itself.
Heating can cause airways to dry out resulting in thicker mucus which is more susceptible to infection so if you can’t invest in the Vicks Warm Steam Vapouriser for the treatment of colds then leave a bowl of water under your radiators (take care with toddlers) and even a clean damp towel sitting on top of a warm radiator to try to stop the room from drying out.
- To prevent colds, coughs and congestion the Salin Plus salt therapy device is proving extremely popular with our customers! Salt particles dissolve mucus and make it easier to expel the mucus from airways. This devise is also very useful for asthmatics and older patients with COPD who find they can breathe much easier in the moist saline environment it creates.
- Keep your kiddies snug when leaving the house with a cosy scarf and gloves. Asthma can be triggered by the cold weather so wrapping up well is a good tip.
- Honey in some warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice can be great for soothing the throats of children over 1 year – the honey coats their throats and the lemon breaks down some of the thick mucus! We sell this product in the pharmacy too if the DIY version is too much trouble.
I hope you found this information helpful and as this is my last article of 2017, I would like to wish all my readers and customers at Grants Pharmacy, a very happy and healthy Christmas and an equally enjoyable New Year. If anyone wishes me to include an article about a topic they would like to know more about, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook me at Grants Pharmacy. I would love to hear from you. Remember, drop into Grants Pharmacy for free advice and helpful tips about conditions that you can treat at home. We are located in Wexford, Enniscorthy and Arklow beside Pettitts Supervalu and in Gorey town on the Avenue. Find us on facebook. Until next year, Happy Christmas, Leonie Grant, Superintendent Pharmacist.