How is a tod­dler’s cold best treated?

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - PUZZLES & FUNNIES -

DEAR DOC­TOR: Our daugh­ter caught a cold. She had just turned 2, so we didn’t want to give her cough or cold medicines, but we did want to help her feel bet­ter. What could we have done? Would honey have helped?


For most chil­dren in most cases, the com­mon cold won’t cause se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions. The bad news is that colds ab­so­lutely con­vey dis­com­fort and mis­ery. Wak­ing hours can be­come marathons of crank­i­ness. At night, bouts of cough­ing mean a sleep­less night for par­ent and child alike.

Don’t reach for an over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine. Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, OTC cough medicines are not rec­om­mended for chil­dren younger than 2 years old. Many doc­tors rec­om­mend wait­ing even longer to ad­min­is­ter OTC med­i­ca­tions. Check with your pe­di­a­tri­cian.

As long as we’re on the sub­ject, pre­scrip­tion cough medicines that con­tain codeine or hy­drocodone should never be used for chil­dren younger than 18 years old. Read the la­bels of OTC cough medicines be­fore dis­pens­ing them to chil­dren be­cause some may con­tain codeine.

There is no cure for the com­mon cold. An­tibi­otics, which tar­get bac­te­ria, aren’t ef­fec­tive against colds, which are caused by viruses. And with OTC med­i­ca­tions not suit­able for young chil­dren, we’re left with the com­fort mea­sures our grand­moth­ers would have ap­proved of.

The main symp­toms of the com­mon cold are the re­sult of the im­mune sys­tem fight­ing off the virus. Whether it’s fever, sneez­ing, cough­ing or that non­stop out­put of mu­cus, each plays a phys­i­o­log­i­cal role in get­ting your child healthy again. The goal isn’t to elim­i­nate the symp­toms com­pletely, but in­stead to make them eas­ier to live with. That means keep­ing your lit­tle one hy­drated with plenty of flu­ids, both warm and cold. Us­ing a cold air hu­mid­i­fier can help ease nasal con­ges­tion. When nasal mu­cus be­comes thick and gluey, you can use saline drops, avail­able at the phar­macy, to help loosen things up. Ten­der, in­flamed nos­trils are a par­tic­u­larly un­pleas­ant side ef­fect of a runny nose. We find that a dab of A&D Oint­ment rubbed around the perime­ter of the nos­trils of­fers in­stant re­lief and pre­vents fur­ther chap­ping.

Honey can help soothe a raw and in­flamed throat in chil­dren older than a year. Sev­eral stud­ies have shown honey re­lieves cough symp­toms and can help kids get bet­ter sleep. Please note that honey is not rec­om­mended for chil­dren younger than a year old be­cause it may oc­ca­sion­ally con­tain bac­te­ria that can cause bot­u­lism. Also im­por­tant is a bal­anced diet and plenty of rest, so that the body’s im­mune sys­tem can do its best work.

Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, is an in­ternist and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of medicine at UCLA Health.

Dr. Eve Glazier

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