With the start of a new school year, cold and flu season isn’t far behind. Children are more prone to getting colds and the flu because they don’t have a strong immune system the way most adults do. In fact, most children average between 6 and 10 colds each year. Dealing with the constant barrage of sniffles and coughs can make for a long school year. The good news is, there are multiple ways to treat your child’s cold symptoms and have them on their way to feeling better in no time.
Avoid OTC Cold Medications
Your first thought when your child starts coughing and sneezing might be to reach for that bottle of cold medicine. Cold medicine is not proven to be effective in children under the age of 12, and pediatricians warn that it can be dangerous if given to children under the age of 4.
Children’s bodies are not built the same as adults, so their bodies cannot process decongestants and other medications in the same manner. This can lead to potentially life-threatening consequences if the cold medicine is not given correctly. That’s why it’s best to avoid them altogether and try more safe, proven remedies.
Stick with Simple
A simple saline solution is one of the best ways to relieve nasal congestion in your child. It’s safe and can even be used in infants as young as six months of age. You can either place a few drops into each nostril several times a day to moisten their nasal passages and loosen up mucus, or have your older child spray the solution into each nostril and gently blow their nose after.
Keep it Moist
Dry, cracked nasal passages allow germs to enter the body, leading to more frequent colds and bouts of the flu. Using a humidifier in your child’s room or a whole house humidifier is the best way to avoid the dry air that can wreak havoc on nasal passages.
A cool-mist humidifier is also soothing to a child when they are suffering from a cold. The cool, moist air helps to loosen mucus in both the chest and nasal passages, making for a more productive cough and less nasal congestion.
Treat the Fever
A low-grade fever often comes along with a cold, which can leave your child feeling tired and miserable. Treating any fever over 100.4 with a safe medication like Tylenol or Advil is the best way to keep your child comfortable. Once their fever breaks and they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without any medication, they can return to school.
You can also use cool washcloths on the forehead to make your child more comfortable and help to naturally reduce their body temperature. Avoid putting your child into a cold bath or shower to lower their fever as this can dangerously reduce their body temperature and lead to bigger problems.
Keeping mucus loose and flowing out of the body is the quickest way to help your child recover from a cold. Warm liquids like tea and chicken broth can soothe the throat and clear up nasal passages. Cool liquids like orange juice, apple juice, and frozen popsicles are also soothing to sore throats and often contain vitamins that can boost the immune system. Even if they aren’t hungry, keep offering them fluids at least every half hour to make sure they don’t become dehydrated, especially if they are suffering from a fever.
Parents often feel they need to get their child back to school as soon as possible when they have a cold. Not only does sending a child back to school too soon expose other children to potential germs, it can also make their symptoms last longer. Don’t forget the most important cold remedy of all- plenty of love and attention from the one they love the most…you!