The flu season is here!
Is it safe to give cough and cold medicine to our children?
Cough can be troublesome, especially for children. Parents can feel helpless spending the whole night up watching their child suffering from cough and blocked nose. Over-the-counter cough and cold medicine are being used a lot by parents as they believe it can help their kids. However, many researches have showed that these medicines are not really effective. On the contrary, they can be dangerous to little kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend any over-the-counter cold medications for children younger than age 4.In my practice.
How can you help your child with common cold?
- Offer fever reducer medications such as paracetamol or acetaminophen. They can also reduce the pain due to sore throat or body ache. Dosing should be given with care according to the child’s age or weight. Children less than 3 months of age with fever should be seen by a doctor first before giving any medicine.
- Offer normal saline nasal drops. They keep the nose and throat clear and moist. There is no active medicine in these drops, hence you can give it to your child as necessary, specially before they feed or sleep.
- You can use suction bulb to draw mucus out from the nose
- Offer your child plenty of fluids. Water, juice and other liquids can help keep the throat moist and the secretions thin. Warm liquids, such as tea and soup can also help.
- Depending on child’s age and symptoms, I may prescribe medications such as antihistamine.
Shall we use antibiotics?
Antibiotics work against bacteria and not viruses. Cold and flu are typically caused by viruses hence antibiotics will not be of benefit. On the contrary, the child might unnecessarily suffer from the side effects of antibiotics.In my practice, I see many children who have been unnecessarily started on antibiotics prior to coming to see me. Unfortunately, misuse of antibiotics increases the chance of having serious infections caused by strong bacteria resistant to the common antibiotics.
At LifeWorks we believe that Prevention is better than cure!
We recommend that your child gets annual health check with pediatrician to make sure your child’s growth and development is appropriate for his or her age. Your kids will be able to fight infections better if they eat healthy balanced diet and do exercise as these boost their immunity in addition to the recommend vaccines according to age. Your child’s pediatrican might be able to help you recognize if your child’s nutrition is optimum and vaccination is up to date and give advice accordingly.
We can also help our children stay healthy during flu season by teaching them few tips such as:
- Avoid close contact with sick people when possible.
- Keep hands clean. Show them how to wash their hands properly and when to do so.
- Teach them to cough or sneeze into a tissue. If not available, they can do it into the crook of their arms.