Mar 30, 2009

Treating coughs and colds in children

New advice was published recently on treating coughs and colds in young children. A large number of different products are available to treat such conditions but parents are now advised not to use these as they do not help and could have side-effects.  Instead, 3 simple steps are given for children with either coughs or colds:

1. If they are uncomfortably hot or shivery: increase the amount of fluid your child normally drinks, lower their temperature with paracetamol or ibuprofen for children.

2. For coughs: try a simple cough mixture with honey and lemon or glycerol.

3. To help with breathing: plain saline nose drops, available from the pharmacist, can help babies with blocked noses who are having trouble feeding. Vapour rubs and inhalant decongestants can also help.

Thanks to the submission from Robert to our e-mail, who says:

‘While over-the-counter medicine may not work on children, by spending time to show concern for the child and giving the impression that medicine is going to help it will make the child feel better and due to the placebo effect it ought to help them recover quicker. What is a better substitute for medicine is a spoonful of honey stirred into hot water, which helps to lubricate the throat, provide an energy boost, and of course helps keep the child hydrated. If this is given to the child and treated in the same way as if it was over-the-counter medicine it should combine the effects of both to help speed recovery from the illness.’

I’m sure the producers of the numerous over-the-counter remedies will not welcome this most recent advice, but most parents will be relieved to know that the common sense approach is the correct one. At nursery we are only allowed to give medicines prescribed by a child’s GP, so have always had to explain that cough and cold mixtures are not something that we can give out. Instead, I think we better stock up on lemons……mind you, as we were recently reminded, babies under 1 year are not supposed to be given honey due to the risk of botulism spores. Do you ever wonder how we all survived infancy?!

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