Few feelings are worse than watching your child suffer from a nasty cold. Grown-ups endure the common cold through patient rest, but if rest and patience aren’t your child’s strong suits, how can you help alleviate the misery of a cold sufferer? Here are four ways you can help your child make it through a bout with the cold.
Keep Your Child Hydrated
Image via Flickr by Runar Pedersen Holkestad
Keep pushing those fluids! Hydration is important for everyone, and when a cold strikes, fluids can help thin mucus buildup in the nose and throat. A child whose throat aches may be reluctant to swallow any more than necessary, so try a cup of heated broth or apple juice — the warmth can help open a stuffy nose while also making an itchy throat feel better.
Stay away from beverages that are high in citric acid, such as orange juice, which can irritate an already sore throat. If a warm drink isn’t what your child wants, try freezing juice into a popsicle instead.
Irrigate Clogged Nasal Passages
Because decongestants can have harsh side effects in children, drying out sensitive nasal tissues, try an over-the-counter saline rinse instead to flush out a stuffy nose and ease sinus pressure. To help alleviate an infant’s discomfort, use a bulb syringe in combination with saline drops to suck out excess mucus.
You can also loosen nasal congestion by running a humidifier. Change the water in its reservoir daily to prevent mold growth, and avoid dampness and risk of steam-related injury by not aiming the flow directly at your child.
Soothe a Sore Throat
Administering warm or cold fluids, easing nasal congestion, and running a humidifier can all help lessen the soreness in your child’s throat. But if they don’t do the trick, a low dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen can also help ease the pain.
However, before administering any medicine to your child, ask your pediatrician for medical advice — many medications that are considered safe for adults are not approved for use in children.
Know When to Call a Doctor
One of the hardest parts of caring for a child who has a cold is knowing when you’ve done all you can. When fluid administration and other home interventions can’t beat a cold, consider using a service such as Curely to consult a doctor. The following are some circumstances in which you’ll want to seek professional intervention:
- If your baby is three months old or younger, consult a physician when you see signs of a cold. Colds are especially hard on very young children.
- If your child is wheezing, breathing rapidly, or struggling for breath, call a doctor or, in serious cases, take your child to the emergency room.
- If symptoms of your child’s cold last longer than 10 days, you might be dealing with something more than just a common cold. A doctor can help you discover what treatments may be needed.
Regardless of how you treat your child’s cold, remember that being sick can be scary for children. These home interventions can help ease a child’s symptoms, but don’t forget that nothing makes a child feel better like an extra dose of love from a parent.