By now, most of you will have seen or read reports of the massive infant’s cold and flu medication recall. Leading OTC drug companies have recalled their infant cold medicine (for children aged 2 and under) and stores are removing it from shelves all over the country. These recalls include major brands like Robitussin, Little Colds, Dimetapp and Tylenol.
If you haven’t already heard about this, check out this press release at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention from yesterday. Whether these over-the-counter cold medicines for children are safe at recommended doses or not isn’t our intention to discuss, although evidence so far is that deaths and injury occur only when improperly used.
Regardless of whether cold and flu medicines are on the supermarket shelves, children are still going to get sick this winter. So what do we do? Below are some “old fashioned” natural home remedies for colds and flus that will help your child feel better and get well sooner:
Reducing Chance of Sickness in The First Place
One of the best offenses against the flu is a good defense. Get yourself and your children a flu shot this season. Often, you can find free programs in neighborhood health clinics, and inexpensive flu shots at shopping centers and schools. A healthy immune system goes hand-in-hand with good nutrition and an active lifestyle, so be sure your child isn’t watching TV all winter and eating McDonalds for dinner.
Humidifiers, plenty of fluids, and certain nasal sprays (saline-only) can help with sinus problems. Vic’s vapor-rub on the chest can help as well. Sick children (and adults, for that matter) should avoid milk and other dairy products because they can encourage mucus production, which can make congestion even worse.
Boosting Immune Systems
It is very important that your child gets over his or her cold or flu as quickly as possible. The longer a child stays sick, the greater their risk of developing something worse. Proper nutrition, plenty of liquids (including electrolyte solutions), vitamin C, and natural remedies like Echinacea should do the trick.
Getting The Fever Down
A cool, damp rag laid across the child’s forehead can help reduce the fever slightly. Under extreme circumstances, an ice-cold bath may be used as a last resort since extreme changes in temperature can be shocking and damaging to the body. But let’s not forget that children’s Tylenol and Motrin have NOT been recalled and can help reduce body aches and fever when instructions are followed from the bottle.
Other Homeopathic Cold Remedies
Here are a few other homeopathic cold remedies, but please be aware that even natural and herbal remedies for colds should be dosage-conscious for children. We suggest consulting with a professional before trying any herbs that you aren’t educated about:
– Fresh garlic and onions
– Cayenne pepper
– A teaspoon of salt and vinegar added to a cup of home-made barley water, gargled and SPIT OUT to sooth an inflamed throat. Don’t swallow.
– A soothing herbal tea from honey, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and a slice of lemon. Add to boiling water, let cool to a hot but drinkable temperature, and drink every few hours. A simpler version of this that my grandmother used to give us is just honey and lemon tea.
– To help children get over sickness faster, you may consider a homeopathic antibiotic mixture such as: 1/2 tablespoon each of Echinacea root, licorice root, and barberry bark (can substitute for Oregon grape root if needed). Add these ingredients to two cups of water, bring to a boil for a few seconds, let it cool for about twenty minutes, strain out the herbs and drink. A 50-pound child should drink about one cup of this tea per day. If they don’t like the taste, try adding a little fresh apple juice or grape juice.
Kids get sick. That is just a fact of life. The average child gets about 14 colds every year. But If your child is sick for more than 48 hours, or has a sustained high-temperature you should take him/her to the emergency room or schedule an appointment with your pediatrician as soon as possible. Even a little cold can turn into a repertory infection or pneumonia within days.