Cold and flu season is fast approaching, and, with school and play, your kids will be in the thick of it. Do you plan on treating them with the usual over-the-counter cold and cough medicines or have you decided you’d rather treat them -œnaturally- with alternative remedies? Before you reach for the bottle of cold medicine or herbal supplements, take the following tips into consideration and talk to your healthcare provider about the best – and safest – treatments for your family.
Conventional versus alternative
Over-the-counter cold and cough medicine sicken some 7,000 kids a year, mostly because of overdoses.
Given the FDA’s warnings, parents are turning to natural, alternative remedies. Unfortunately, this is a confusing, unregulated territory, and some natural remedies can be potentially harmful to kids.
Here are few tips from Dr Rachel Schreiber, board-certified physician in allergy and immunology as well as internal medicine, and Dr Jamie Freishtat, board-certified pediatrician at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Dr Schreiber and Dr Freishtat are also known as the Mommy Docs — they have dedicated their careers to providing parents with tried and true healthcare on their website Mommydocs.com, which offers practical information, blogs, and podcasts on keeping your children healthy.
Alternative remedy tips for parents
Capsules, powders, and potions beware
Keep in mind that herbal supplements should not be given to children.
Vitamins should only be given under the direction of the pediatrician. The FDA doesn’t regulate OTC supplements.
Because young bodies process drugs differently, your kiddos may be especially vulnerable to side effects.
No honey for infants
Despite being a soothing remedy for sore throats and cough, honey should not be given to children under the age of one as it may contain bacterial spores that can cause infant botulism, a rare and serious form of food poisoning. Infant botulism affects a baby’s nervous system and can result in death.
Water is good for you, but not for your baby
Drink eight (8-ounce) glasses of water each day as it flushes out toxins and serves to rehydrate the body.
Keeping your body hydrated through water consumption is important so that mucus membranes are also, in turn, hydrated and thus able to effectively expel virus particles.
Make sure your adolescents are well-hydrated, especially when they are sick. However, babies under the age of one should not drink water unless advised by a pediatrician.
Humidifiers are a good solution to coughs and stuffed up noses as they hydrate mucus membranes and help the body expel germs more effectively.
Opt for humidifiers that have bacteria-eliminating features, like the Vicks GermFree Humidifier, which has a patented UV light chamber that kills up to 99 percent of bacteria, mold and spores in the water vapor that enters the air.
And for maximum safety in the nursery for your little one, use a Vicks Cool Mist Humidifier.
Saline Drops or saline spray
For nasal congestion in babies, consider using nasal saline drops, which are gentler, and a bulb syringe to help loosen and clear mucus.
And for your older children, you can use a nasal saline spray.