Sheena, a mum pharmacist shares her top tips.
Colds are viral illnesses which can cause sneezing, coughing, congestion, runny noses, sore throats, watery eyes and even a high temperature.
At this time of year children seem to only be recovering from one cold when another one lands! It can be exhausting and draining for everyone in the family! Hopefully I’ll be able to give you some tips which will help treat your child’s cold and have everyone sleeping better as quickly as possible!
The first and most important thing to remember is that colds are self-limiting. This means that all you need to do is ease your child’s symptoms and the illness will pass within approximately 7-10 days. Generally a doctor visit is not needed.
- Congestion – The use of a nasal spray or drops can be so helpful! If your baby is young, I would recommend using it fifteen minutes before a breast or bottle feed. This allows them to feed well without struggling with blocked airways.
- A humidifier – which adds steam to the air, can really help to prevent the airways drying out overnight which really help your child sleep through.
- Coughs – Actually a humidifier is very useful to ease coughs in children as well as congestion. It helps to prevent the airways drying out and also helps to loosen mucus. Many cough bottles are not suitable for children under one due to their honey content. If your child’s cough becomes wheezy or they begin shallow rapid breathing please seek medical advice.
- A high fever should be treated with Paracetamol or Ibuprofen as appropriate (please read the article about using Calpol and Nurofen together as well as the safest way to administer medicine to babies). If you suspect your child’s symptoms are more than just a cold it is worth contacting your doctor. A persistent high fever which does not come down with medication is unlikely to result from a common cold.
- Sore throats can be treated with Paracetamol and Ibuprofen also. It is worth offering your child food one hour after they have ad their medication as this is when they are least likely to be sore and to refuse a meal of feed. Honey, lemon and warm water can be a great ‘tea’ for children over one year of age. The honey helps to coat their throats and soothe pain whilst the lemon helps to thin out thick mucus and reduce irritation from a post nasal drip!
- Hydration – It is essential to make sure your child is taking enough fluids to prevent dehydration. Keep an eye on how much they are drinking and how often they are going to the toilet or having wet nappies. If you are concerned about dehydration at all please seek medical attention. Symptoms of drowsiness include lethargy, drowsiness, and tearless crying.
- Rehydration salts which are available in the Pharmacy are a great, easy way to maintain hydration. Nicer still ice pops also do a fantastic job!!
- Keep a scarf around your child’s neck and mouth when going out in cold weather as this helps to prevent respiratory irritation in very cold weather!
- Keep an eye on your child’s actions – if they are tugging or pulling at their ears more than normal they may have an ear infection which can commonly present like a common cold. It’s worth bringing them to your GP to have their ears and throat checked!
I hope you have found these tips helpful and remember if you are any way concerned that your child’s symptoms are more than a common cold bring them to see their doctor to rule out other types of illness.
Written by Sheena Mitchell, the Pharmacist