The best way to treat a tod­dler with the com­mon cold

The Progress-Index - - AMUSEMENTS - Dr. El­iz­a­beth Ko & Dr. Eve Glazier

Dear Doc­tor: Our youngest daugh­ter caught a cold over the hol­i­days and was pretty mis­er­able. 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?

Dear Reader: The good news is that for most chil­dren and in most cases, the com­mon cold won't cause se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions. The bad news, as any­one with small chil­dren knows, is that colds will ab­so­lutely con­vey a cer­tain level of dis­com­fort and mis­ery. Wak­ing hours can be­come marathons of crank­i­ness be­cause the young pa­tient is be­set by aches and pains, co­pi­ous mu­cus and feel­ing gen­er­ally crummy. At night, the lit­tle one's bouts of cough­ing mean a sleep­less night for par­ent and child alike.

How­ever, tempt­ing as it may be, don't reach for an over-the­counter (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 than that to ad­min­is­ter OTC med­i­ca­tions, so check with your pe­di­a­tri­cian to see what they rec­om­mend. And as long as we're on the sub­ject, pre­scrip­tion cough medicines that con­tain codeine or hy­drocodone should never be used in chil­dren younger than 18 years old. Al­ways read the la­bels of OTC cough medicines be­fore dis­pens­ing them to chil­dren be­cause some may con­tain codeine.

We've suc­cess­fully mapped the hu­man genome but as of yet, 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, as you men­tioned, can help soothe a raw and in­flamed throat in chil­dren older than a year.

In fact, sev­eral stud­ies have shown that honey ac­tu­ally re­lieves cough symp­toms and can help kids to get a better night's 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. El­iz­a­beth Ko, M.D., is an in­ternist and as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of medicine at UCLA Health.

Send your ques­tions to ask­the­do­c­[email protected]­net.ucla.edu, or write: Ask the Doc­tors, c/o UCLA Health Sciences Me­dia Re­la­tions, 10880 Wil­shire Blvd., Suite 1450, Los An­ge­les, CA, 90024. Ow­ing to the vol­ume of mail, per­sonal replies can­not be pro­vided.

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