A cold or flu usually takes about ten days to run its course. It is always advisable to try some home remedies. While none of these home remedies will shorten the child’s illness, but they may help the baby feel a lot better. Nasal drops prescribed by a doctor clear the nose when the child is too young to blow his/her nose. Feverish children can get considerably dehydrated from sweating. The child should be kept hydrated. Though children with flu are often not hungry; they still need nourishment to fight the flu. Easy to digest meals must be given to them. Children under 6 should not be given any over the counter cold and cough medicine because of potentially dangerous side effects.
A baby’s cough can mean very different things. They can be broadly classified as
- Dry Cough: This occurs when a baby has a cold or allergies.
- Wet Cough: This results from a bacterial infection in a child’s respiratory tract.
Though most of these infections are caused by viruses, these infections do not last long and the mother need not panic.
Some infections are caused by bacteria and need treatment with antibiotics. These include certain infections of the ear and throat, urinary tract, blood infections and meningitis. A very sore throat with a fever can be caused by streptococcus. It must be treated with antibiotics, if not, it may lead to rheumatic fever or heart damage. Though children under 4 months do not cough, if they do it may turn out to be serious. Febrile convulsions are seizures that happen because of fever. They occur in children between the ages of six months and five years. Though children outgrow febrile convulsions by the age of 4-5 years but a doctor should be consulted.
Medical attention is needed if the child:
- Looks paler and sicker than before, is lethargic and weak
- Has trouble breathing
- Becomes drowsy
- Refuses to drink, and is not passing enough urine
- Complaints of a stiff neck and persistent headache
- Vomits persistently, or has frequent bouts of diarrhoea
- Is less than 12 months and has fever.
Fever is a result of the body’s attempt to fight an infection. When the infection or other cause of the fever has completely gone, the child’s temperature will return to normal. Small quantities of clear fluids like water, weak or mild tea or juice may be given. The recommended dose of paracetamol in the liquid form should be administered. Under no circumstances should aspirin be given to the baby.
Upper respiratory infection is an infection that leads to a runny nose and congestion. It is a viral infection and affects infants more than others. This should be treated by the doctor.
Symptoms may include:
- Runny nose
- Cough and hoarseness
- Mild fever
Some common home remedies include:
- Herbal decoction where tulsi leaves, ginger powder, clove, black pepper, turmeric has been boiled in water and strained.
- Honey soothes throat inflammation in children and suppresses cough in a natural manner. A combination of lemon and honey also helps. Infants below 12 months should not be given as it may cause botulism.
- Eucalyptus oil in a steam bath is also a good remedy to ease congested chests and clear blocked nose.