Nanny and Au Pair Health Care Series
Unless recommended by a physician no over-the-counter (OTC) cold preparations are suitable for a child under four-years-old.
The side-effects cited in this article are representative only and not nearly a complete list of all possible problems medications can pose for children.
Parents may give certain herbs to children to prevent or lessen the symptoms of a cold. Herbs are used because of the inaccurate belief that they are all natural and cannot hurt, and might help, children.
Echinacea: The most popular herb is Echinacea. According to the German government, only one of the four species of Echinacea is useful as a cold preventative. That form is not even available in the United States. Some children, especially those who are allergic to ragweed, may be allergic to Echinacea. The alcohol-based tincture form of Echinacea can be irritating to mucus membranes.
Vitamin C: Some people use large doses of Vitamin C to prevent or to treat a cold. Large doses of Vitamin C can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and heartburn.
Honey: Honey is popularly used to relieve sore throat, or to mix with lemon to relieve colds. Honey should not be given to any child under one-year-old because of the risk of infant botulism.
Iron: Iron-containing vitamins are a threat to children and all vitamins should be kept out of the reach of children. Doctors may prescribe iron for anemia, but only give a child iron with a pediatrician's advice.
Aspirin: Headaches, sore throats, and other pain should be treated with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but never aspirin. Aspirin should not be give to anyone under 19-years-old. Aspirin is to be avoided because it is a salicylate (see below) that can react with a virus that can cause the dangerous Reyes Syndrome. Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen in forms designed for pediatric use, rather than smaller doses of adult formulations.
Salicylate: The adult formulation of Pepto Bismol, Kaopectate, and willow bark are also salicylate-containing compounds and must be avoided by infants, children, and teenagers.
Antibiotics: Do not insist on antibiotics for a virus. Antibiotics do not cure or treat a virus, only bacterial infections.
How to Treat Common Childhood Ailments:
Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea: Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea are all potentially dangerous conditions that may lead to dehydration. Pediatric electrolyte replacement drinks are appropriate. Diluting adult electrolyte replacement drinks will give the patient a drink that is too acidic for a child.
Teething: There are many effective strategies to relieve the discomfort of teething but adult Anbesol and liquor may burn the gums and should be avoided. Cold gel pacifiers are a better choice.
Intestinal gas and heartburn: Intestinal gas and heartburn are treatable with a large variety of safe products. Use those made for the age of the child. Too much antacid can cause constipation, diarrhea, or stomach cramps. Over dosage of acid blockers can inhibit digestion. Track the diet of children with stomach or digestive discomfort for a few days to check if there is a sensitivity to some food.
Among the most effective methods to prevent the spread of illness is careful and frequent hand washing. Plain soap and water are all that is necessary.
Do you use homeopathic remedies when treating sick children?