Colds and coughs: what are the best treatments?
For a first-time parent, watching your child suffer through a nasty winter cold can be confronting.
High temperatures, snotty noses and barking coughs seem to go hand in hand with the winter months, and if your child socialises with other kids, it’s pretty easy for them to pick up the germs.
The average preschool child has at least six colds a year
and young children often get them because they haven’t had a chance in their young bodies to build up an immunity.
Because there are more than 200 types of virus that can cause colds and upper respiratory tract infections you can’t be immunised. They are more prevalent in winter because people stay inside and more easily pass on the infection.
While the common symptoms of colds, including sneezing, a runny nose and red eyes, are pretty mild, they can also include vomiting, being pale and sleepy, having trouble breathing and fevers that don’t get better with paracetamol.
AMAQ spokesman Dr Matt Young said colds were really common in kids in the winter months and often seemed worse at night because of the cold air.
He said while there was no easy cure, there were a few methods parents could try to keep their children healthy and well.
“What we have to remember is that the human body is very resilient against most germs and we have about 200,000 years of evolution on our side,” Dr Young said.
“That means your body is designed to deal with them. A lot of treatment for colds and coughs in common sense. If the child is showing signs of a temperature, keep them cool with cold flannels, let them wear less clothes and give them some Panadol or Nurofen.
“Antibiotics should be considered if they are coughing up green or yellow phlegm or if they have sore ears,” Dr Young said.
For first-time parents, who are unsure what to do next, Dr Young recommends taking children to a doctor if they’re showing signs of ear pain, if they have nasty phlegm, or if their tonsils in their mouths are swollen or coated in a white substance.
Easy cold remedies for concerned, and tired parents, include:
- Giving a child paracetamol in recommended doses for up to 48 hours
- Offering extra breastfeeds if the child is less than six months old
- If on formula, offer smaller amounts more frequently
- If older than six months, try offering plenty of water to keep their fluids up
- Cool face clothes and baths to lower temperatures can help
Dr Young said the best weapon against the war on colds and flus was ensuring they had a healthy diet, plenty of water and exercise and a good night’s sleep.
“Many people use supplements in their child’s diet but the reality is that supplements are for people whose diets are lacking key nutrients,” Dr Young said.
“The best thing to do take them to the fruit and vegetable shop – they’re the best supplements.”