A spoonful of honey – treating children’s coughs

honey and lemon2

‘Tis the season, coughs and snotty noses abound. A nasty cold or cough is uncomfortable for all, but for infants and very young children, unable to express themselves or understand what is happening, it can be particularly difficult. Before you go out and get an over-the-counter medication to soothe your child’s throat be aware of the warnings against using over the counter cough and cold medications.

In 2007 a number of children’s cough medications were withdrawn from the market. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advised parents and physicians not to give young children cough and cold syrups.

A growing body of evidence suggested that non-prescription medications for cough and cold actually did little to aid recovery. These medications also pose risks with regard to a rare adverse reaction due to unintentional overdosing. The Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory recommending that parents do not give these products to children under the age of 2 because of the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

What to do when we want to ease our children’s discomfort.

(Information posted here does not constitute medical advice and should not be used to replace seeking a health care professional’s expert advice.)

It is important to understand that most coughs and colds are the result of contracting a virus and do not respond to antibiotics. Inappropriate use of antibiotics can result in an allergic reaction or antibiotic side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and yeast infections. Antibiotics may also kill beneficial bacteria and encourage the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The best way to treat cold and coughs is with prevention.  Teaching and modeling proper and frequent hand-washing is important. See this post on RSV for more prevention tips.

Here are several suggestions:

Honey and lemon

A favorite in our home, among those over one year old, is a cup of hot water with honey and lemon slices. There have been multiple studies that have shown that honey is effective in easing a cough(1).

 Honey is not to be given to children under one year of age as it carries a risk of infant botulism which can be life-threatening.

Fluids

You can also encourage your child to drink more fluids. Being hydrated whether by broths, water, or juices helps loosen the mucus making it easier for your child to cough or blow their nose. Another plus of keeping hydrated – liquids can sooth an irritated throat.

Positioning

Elevating your child’s head while they sleep can ease a cough.

Saline and suction

If your child is having trouble breathing or drinking because of nasal congestion, you can clear their nasal passages with a little saline solution drops or spray followed by proper use of a suction bulb. (2)

Moisture

Close the bathroom door, run the shower to get the bathroom steamy and then sit with your child in the bathroom. (Young children should not be left in any room with standing water that they can access.) The moist air can help clear upper respiratory passages.

Keep warm, safe and healthy this holiday season.

(1)Warren, M.D., Pont, S.J., Barkin, S.L., Callahan, S.T., Caples, T.L, Carroll, K.N., Plemmons, G.S., Swan, R.R., Cooper, W.O., The Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Children and Their Parents Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(12):1149-1153 FULL TEXT Accessed 12-7-2011

(2) Child and Colds, Healthy Children Blog, American Academy of Pediatrics FULL TEXT Accessed 12-7-2011

Cold home remedies – What should you try?

Home cold remediesYou’ve got a runny nose, you’re congested, your head aches, your throat throbs and you just feel wiped out. It might ‘just’ be a cold, but that isn’t helping you get through the day. Colds are viral infections so antibiotics are no help (and may even be harmful). What should you do? What about all those natural remedies on the internet? Do they have any merit?

We asked TMCOne nurse practitioner Natalie Olendorf for her feedback on some of the more common home-remedy suggestions:

Zinc lozenges or nasal spray

Some studies show starting zinc lozenges or syrup in the first 24 hours of cold symptoms can shorten the length of the cold, but don’t use them for longer than 3 days as they can cause nausea when taken for longer. Some people have lost their sense of smell permanently from use of the zinc nasal spray, so it isn’t recommended.

Nasal irrigation and neti pots

Neti pots have reached the mainstream – they and nasal saline sprays may help relieve symptoms such as pressure and drainage as well as shorten the life of the cold by flushing out mucus and viruses. It’s important to make sure that you use sterilized or distilled water.

Hot ginger and lemon tea

Yum! This combination is soothing and can help reduce inflammation in the throat. Go ahead and try it. It won’t cure your cold, but it might bring some relief.

Echinacea

Echinacea can be helpful to relieve symptoms, but no strong evidence exists to show that it makes an impact on the length of the cold.

Vitamin C

Who hasn’t been tempted to dose up with vitamin C after being exposed to a snotty kid? High doses of vitamin C are thought to help support the immune system, but only take these for FEWER THAN FIVE DAYS. High doses of any vitamin can be dangerous and too much vitamin C may cause kidney stones. Also, it won’t prevent the cold, but the illness may last fewer days if your immune system is more robust. Most people get enough vitamin C from a good diet.

Essential oils, aromatherapy

There are very limited studies on the use of essential oils. And while some may help improve congestion and drainage, it is important not to use them topically or to ingest them.

Steam vapor

Steam vapor helps to decrease congestion and open up the sinuses, which can provide relief from that headache.

Elderberry

Elderberry, extract Sambucol, may help decrease the sore throat, headache and fatigue of a cold. Talk to your physician about using elderberry extract as it may interact or impact other medications you are taking.

This information is meant as a guide, but should not be used in place of medical advice from your health care provider.

If you’re in need of a same day appointment check out TMCOne

Natalie Olendorf F.N.P. and familyAbout Natalie Olendorf, F.N.P.

I am a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner. I have worked in family medicine and urgent care for the last 8 years. Prior to joining TMCOne I worked as a nurse in a Children’s Hospital in Chicago on a solid organ transplant unit and as an emergency room nurse in a Level 1 trauma center.

I attended University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana where I received by Bachelor’s in Nursing in 2003 and then attended University of Illinois Chicago where I received my Master’s in Nursing in 2009. Currently, I am working same-day care and the Fast Pass program at the TMCOne Wyatt location.

I am married and have a young son and daughter. I enjoy being active and outdoors with my family in my free time.

 

 


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