Happy New Year! I am not sure what 2016 has brought into your household, but for the King household 2016 has arrived with a bunch of coughing and snot. Tis’ the season! From what I have seen with recent urgent care and office visits I feel that 2016 has brought the same baggage to many households in the Greater Dayton area. So here are my thoughts and advice:
- Hydration is SUPER important. Water the best mucolytic, the treatment to break down and thin out all of that mucous so that you can cough it out, blow it out, sneeze it out or otherwise rid it from your body. Staying hydrated also helps your body eliminate waste more effectively. Water is the best substance for hydrating.
- REST. I know, what is that word? Is it part of our vocabulary anymore? But, yes, rest is VERY important! If you do not feel you can stay in bed for an entire day or three at least slow down, give yourself a break and know that you will catch up as soon as your body recovers. LISTEN to your body. Cancel those dinner plans, reschedule a meeting or two. It will only be worse if you get worse and develop more serious complications. Your body is pretty amazing at healing itself, give it a chance!
- Remember mom’s chicken noodle soup?? This salty broth can help to clear your throat, ease a sore throat (think salt water gargles), hydrate you and bring back feelings of comfort. For most people this meal is easy to digest and for all another form of hydrating. For the little ones I will use pedialyte, especially if they are having a hard time drinking a lot.
- Breathe in humidified air. Because of the cold many of us have turned on our heat. For a lot of households this means forced air heating which is extremely dry. Whenever your nose is congested you breathe more at night through your mouth. This leads to dryness in your throat which can become very sore. If you put the humidifier bedside then I find that this allows for all that snot to stay thinner and easier to pass, similar to the way a bath or shower will help. For the little ones I do recommend bath time to loosen up all of that snot. Another trick is taking a warm wash cloth, placing over your face and breathing for a couple of minutes – a personal humidifier.
- Honey. Honey has natural antioxidant and antimicrobial properties and can be used as a natural cough suppressant. Audrey and Ethan have even been known to come to me with a fake cough because they enjoy the taste of honeyJ Take 2 teaspoons straight, mix it with some warm apple juice or lemonade (it will mix better warm, you can always then add ice cubes if you prefer cold drinks) then take it throughout the day or before bed. I like to mix a couple of teaspoons of honey with a glass of water and some freshly squeezed lemon. Yes, there have been research studies reporting this benefit as well! This is great because we know that cough suppressant medications are not recommended for children less than 6 years of age. One important note, due to the concern for infant botulism, honey is not recommended for children under the age of 1 year.
- Nasal saline. I still recommend nasal saline for almost anyone with nasal congestion. We especially like the mist applicator tips in our house because they are well tolerated and we do not feel like we are drowning. I use nasal saline throughout the day to ease that congestion and sinus pressure, as well as relieve the itchiness of a dry nose. This will help your children with that itchiness which would help reduce the nose pickingJ
Hang in there, this will pass. Remember that cough is not all bad, it is a protective mechanism as well to help prevent stuff from getting into your lungs. As always, check with your doctor. The advice above is to empower you when we as the doctors/ health care providers tell you that your child has cold, upper respiratory tract infection, or viral illness.
Watch your child for the following signs that would make me want to see your child as a doctor:
- Trouble breathing – too fast, too hard. Especially if this persists after you give them nasal saline and suction them.
- Concern for dehydration – not making enough wet diapers, refusing to feed.
- Fevers that are lasting longer than four days.
- Symptoms that have been going on for a few days that seem to be getting worse instead of better.
- You are just concerned. That is why we do what we do, to help you and empower you to take the best care of your children!
Remember to wash your child’s hands regularly, sneeze and cough into elbows, drink lots of fluids and rest!