Come winter and kids feel uneasy and so do parents, when they have to spend sleepless nights, trying to figure out how to relieve their kids’ coughing and congestion. Often they are confused between symptoms and at times, unsure whether to call a doctor or make a midnight run to the emergency room. When you get cold, you shiver and produce body heat by muscle activity. Babies cannot shiver. Instead, they use a special kind of fat to make heat chemically. The calories used to make chemical heat are calories the baby should be using for growth or normal activity. Putting a warm hat on your baby on a cold day saves ‘go and grow’ calories. Children, with more immature immune systems, catch cold and flu more often than grownups. Most of the time, children need simply a little symptom relief and a bit of comforting.
Some parents insist on keeping their kids away from medication but certain symptoms warrant immediate attention. In the first 3-4 years of life, children catch an average of 4-5 colds a year. According to Dr. P.K. Singhal, “Coughing clears the throat and lungs of mucus and germs, so don’t attempt to suppress it unless it interferes with your child’s sleep or she’s genuinely troubled by it. There is no need to worry so long your child is reasonably active, comfortable and relishes his food and drink. Recommendations -: Consider liquids. All that hacking irritates and dries out your child’s throat, making it hurt even more. For babies, feed her more often. Comfort her throat by giving any drink she likes. Citrus drinks are not recommended as they are known to irritate inflamed throats. Cough drops are a great fix. Have your child gargle with a teaspoon of salt mixed in a glass of warm water to ease throat pain. Caution-: A cough can possibly be a symptom of sinus infection, asthma, bronchitis, or other illnesses, so call your doctor if your child continues hacking non-stop, can’t catch her breath, or has trouble swallowing. If throat pain is severe, consult your doctor. Prefer to leave a stuffy nose alone, or, at most, treat it gently. Most cold viruses hang out in the nose and thrive at body temperature. Nasal congestion is the body’s way of fighting the virus as it enhances the temperature of the nose. Even your kid’s running nose is a good symptom – the germ filled mucus is in the exit mode. Decogestants may interfere with these healing processes and can cause side effects. They are known to act as stimulants and may keep children awake if taken around bed time. They are never given to babies under 6 months.
Recommendations -: Keep your child’s mucous membranes moist, thin secretions, and replenish fluids by giving him a lot to drink. Contrary to popular myth, milk is fine. Moisten and flush your child’s nose with saline nose drops or sprays or mix one teaspoon of salt into eight ounces of warm water. This will loosen nasal congestions. Clear your child’s nose before bedtime by running your shower to create steam. Have him sit in a warm tub or just inhale the steamy air. Elevate your child’s head at night to drain congestion and prevent mucus from pooling in his throat, which triggers coughing. Prop older kids up with pillows. For babies, raise the crib or mattress no more than two inches by placing a rolled towel beneath it. Caution-: Call your doctor if your little one’s nose is still running after three to five days or he has ear pain that persists for more than a day or two. Allow the fever run its course which can actually shorten your child’s illness. Raised body temperature creates a less hospitable environment for viruses. Consult doctor if high temperature (102 degrees F) continues to linger for more than 2-3 days. Recommendation-: don’t accept the myth that your child can “sweat out” her fever. Covering her in blanket will make her feel worse, increasing the fever and possibly bringing on complications like febrile seizures. Ensure a normal temperature for the room. Sponge and bathe your kid in tepid water to dissipate his body heat. This can be effective on its own, or you can use it to comfort your child while you wait for the pain reliever to start working. Make sure your child has plenty to drink. The dehydrating effects of fever can cause headaches and body aches and increase the side effects of medication. Caution-: Call the pediatrician if your baby is an infant and has a temperature, or if an older child looks ill and his temperature is higher than 102 degrees.
Asthma is seldom fatal but one of the scariest things about it is that you never know whether an attack will bring on only a mild wheezing or land you in the hospital emergency room. Asthma is the most common serious chronic condition among youngsters under 18 and doctors often misjudge the severity of the condition. Asthma is a long term, inflammation of the lungs, characterized by narrowing of the airways. Researchers are uncertain as to what exactly causes it, but it is believed to be inked to an abnormal immune response. Sensitive muscles in the bronchial tubes tend to twitch and this sparks off the terrifying attacks. As they surge towards a fully fledged spasm, air passages often clog up with increased amount of mucus, followed by wheezing and shortness of breath. There’s always something specific that triggers sensitive lungs into spasms. Asthma is not just a frightening disease but equally complicated and is completely reversible. Try to figure out the ‘triggers’ and you may be on the road to recovery.
Bronchospasm can be checked by numerous drugs and inhalers but the trick lies in finding the cause. The preventer inhaler is required to damp down hidden inflammation in the lungs as the reliever can only open up the airways to make it easier to breathe-it can’t tackle the underlying inflammation that causes the irritation in the first place. Some precautions and few common nutrients reduce asthma risks in children. Recent studies appearing in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care medicine suggest the importance of vitamin C, beta carotene and selenium. Children with low levels of these nutrients in their bloodstream were more likely to develop the airway disease. These three nutrients are antioxidants that neutralize the free radicals (unstable oxygen molecules that damages cells and is a contributing factor to disease) and are believed to combat asthma. A daily intake of 30-35 mg of vitamin C is recommended for children and this assumes greater importance for anyone in the house is a smoker. Sources of vitamin C are broccoli, guava, rose hips, sweet peppers, etc. Sources of beta carotene are the plant form o f vitamin A which gives carrots, squash and other vegetables their orange or yellow colour. Sources of selenium are brazil nuts, fish, meat, mushroom, grains, onion, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, etc. Although parents can’t necessarily prevent asthma but certainly they can help their kids to understand the disease better.
Recent studies suggest: Antibiotics may contribute to asthma and allergies so prefer to avoid them unless it is essential. Kids with asthma are likely to have parents suffering from anxiety disorder. Kid’s asthma provokes anxiety in adults which in turn aggravates the child’s condition which sets a vicious cycle. Children often fail to take their medications routinely. The worst culprits associated with asthma are cats and cockroaches. Humans are allergic to its saliva, faeces and skin cells left behind. The quality of air in your home may be promoting asthma. Consider possibilities to improve them. To reduce the spread of infections, ensure that your child routinely washes his hands with soap as and when required. Volatile organic compounds (chemical irritants) found in polishes, paints, solvents, glues are known triggers for asthma. According to an Australian study published in Thorax identifies the prime culprit as benzene, ethylbenzene and toluene.
So make sure that these compounds are not interfering with your kids everyday life. Add to this the fact that early infancy is a critical period in the development of a child’s lungs and immune system. Drink at least a cup of liquid to keep the airway moist. Your asthma medication may also spell danger, as they come with a host of side effects. Bronchodilators, for instance, irritate the very tissue they are meant to clear.Because coughing and wheezing are the most common signs of asthma, they can easily be confused or mistaken for symptoms of the common cold. So how to tell if your child simply has a cold or something more serious? If its asthma, your child may experience some or all of the following symptoms: Coughing: Especially if it occurs after running or crying, or more often at night. Wheezing: You can hear a whistling sound when the child breathes, not all kids with asthma wheeze, but if you hear it when the child breathes out, talk to your child’s doctor. Rapid breathing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Tightness in chest: You may need to ask your child about this. Running nose, congestion, or sneezing: While these aren’t asthma symptoms, having a cold or flu virus may trigger asthma. Fever: Possibly – While asthma doesn’t cause fever, a flu or cold virus may trigger asthma. Any one of the above symptoms – or a combination of them – can be evidence of asthma. If you think your child might have asthma, be sure to call your pediatrician right away.