Thursday, April 28, 2011

What to Do When Your Child Has a Cold



If your child has a cold, he or she will want you to fix it fast. Unfortunately, colds last from seven to ten days, and a young child may not have a concept for that length of time. The good news is that you may be able to make them feel better and distract them during the healing process.
There are some similarities between a cold and the flu, but usually there are enough unique aspects to help you figure out which is which. A cold usually has a lower fever, a runny nose and a sore throat. The flu has a high fever, headache, body aches, etc.
Going to the doctor is a judgement call you will have to make, but be aware that antibiotics don't do anything to shorten the duration of a cold. It is dangerous to take them too frequently, so demanding a prescription is counterproductive.
Dehydration is a big threat when a child is ill, especially if it hurts to swallow. Popsicles and other frozen, milk free treats may be helpful. There are also products designed to help keep the electrolytes balanced. Those are usually found on the "baby" aisle of your local supermarket.
Children get very restless when they are ill. They may not understand what is happening and why they feel that way. Even older children, who have a good idea about colds and so forth, can exhibit signs of restlessness. There are several ways to deal with this.
The first one I learned from my mother. She kept a hidden supply of toys, books, etc. that she brought out when we were sick. These distractions helped wile away the hours we were cooped up indoors recovering.
The second one involves herbs. Before I list a few of the herbs I think may be helpful, let me emphasize the importance of speaking to your child's pediatrician first. Some herbs may be too strong, and the amount to use varies with age and weight. Catnip and chamomile are the two safest relaxing herbs. Of the two, you stand a better chance of getting the child to drink the chamomile. Its taste is sort of like apples and it is mildly sweet.
There are warning signs to watch out for while your child is recovering. If the symptoms start to get better then suddenly get worse, that is a possible sign of infection, which will need an antibiotic. If the fever goes up, symptoms worsen or the cold lasts for longer than ten days, those are also signs the doctor is needed. Lastly, if you just feel that the situation warrants a trip to the doctor, go with your instincts, they are usually right.
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