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Hello and Welcome to HealthiNation I’m Dr. Preeti Parikh.
Kids and colds seem to go hand and hand.
In fact, the common cold is the number one reason children visit the doctor and stay
home from school. On average kids get 3 to 10 colds a year, and when colds can last as
long as 10 to 14 days – that’s a lot of time spent sniffling and sneezing.
Remember, there is no cure for the common cold. It’s a virus, so antibiotics won’t
Most colds are simply a nuisance. But a call to the doctor may be necessary if symptoms
are extreme, or if your child is very young.
Here’s when you’ll need to pick up the phone.
If your child is 3months old or younger. Colds can actually lead to more serious problems
for young babies.
If your child has a strong cough or congestion for more than 2 weeks, or if they are extremely
drowsy, lethargic, or cranky.
If they stop taking fluids or aren’t wetting as many diapers as usual.
Or if they have difficulty breathing, tug on their ear or complain of an ear ache.
You may also need to call your doctor if your child has a temperature of 103 or more. Or
if their temperature is higher than 100 degrees for more than 3 days.
That said, it’s not just about the numbers. The key is to see how your child looks. A
fever is not always a bad thing, it’s actually a sign that your child’s body is fighting
the infection. So use your best judgment and call your pediatrician if you’re concerned.
If your child is just suffering from a bothersome cold, you’ll be looking to bring them comfort
in the simplest and safest way possible.
Here are some things you can do to help.
You may want get a pen and paper to take notes, and you can pause as needed.
First, give children of all ages plenty of fluids. Hydration is key, and can help loosen
Try non-medicated saline nasal drops to help thin mucus, along with a suction bulb to clear
And use a cold mist humidifier in their room to help sooth irritated nasal passages.
And believe it or not, buckwheat or dark honey may be the best call for reducing and soothing
the cough of a child over 1 year old. Studies show these natural remedies are even more
effective in young children than cough medications. As adults we frequently turn to over the counter
medicines to help relieve the annoying symptoms of a cold. We’ll use multi-symptom pills
or cough syrups, that bundle together various drugs like antihistamines, decongestants,
cough suppressants, and pain relievers.
But for younger children, whose bodies are different than adult’s, we need to be careful
with these medications. They can have life threatening side effects if a child is accidentally
overdosed. And research suggests many aren’t as effective for children under age 6.
And remember, over the counter cold medications do not cure a cold, or even shorten how long
But, if you do think your child needs over the counter medication, here are some guidelines
to keep in mind:
First, children under six should never use cold & cough medications without specific
instructions and guidance from a doctor. They bring high risks for young children, and should
Never use adult medication for any child under 12
Never give aspirin to a child under 18, it can cause Reyes syndrome, a rare, but potentially
Now, your doctor may recommend acetaminophen, or if your child is over 6 months old, ibuprophen,
to help with a high fever or as a pain reliever.
When using these drugs, check to see if the drug is labeled “infant” or “pediatric”.
They come in different concentrations than other cold and cough remedies.
Also, read the “Drug Fact” section on the box and follow the directions.
Using the package guidelines when determining dosage based on both age and weight is very
And also check the “active ingredients” section to see what is in it, and be sure
it’s appropriate for your child.
Pay special attention that you aren’t giving a double dose of something, like Ibuprophen
or acetaminophen. These medications are often found in many cold & cough medications.
If you’re uncertain about what is in a specific medicine, or if aren’t certain if it is
the correct drug for your child – call you doctor before using it.
Follow these steps, work with your doctor, and your baby or child will be well on the
road to feeling better.
Thanks for being part of HealthiNation. Be sure to watch our other segments for more
on kid’s health.