Best Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Your Child's Cold

Are you worried about your child’s constant cold? Find out what you can do to limit the spread of infection. Further, try these simple and safe kitchen cures for that much-needed relief!

By Dr V Shreevidya

Best Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Your Child's Cold
A little boy having a cold

Is your child having a cold again? The upper respiratory tract, which includes the mouth, nose, throat, larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe), is vulnerable to frequent infections. Upper Respiratory tract Infections (URIs) range from rhinopharyngitis (common cold) to life-threatening illnesses such as epiglottitis, an inflammation of the tissue that covers the trachea.

Symptoms

Viruses account for most of the URIs, which are usually self-treated. Symptoms of the common cold include:

  • Sneezing
  • Running nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever (sometimes)
  • Children may be irritable and complain of headache.

How colds are spread?

  • The virus spreads from one person to another. It is contagious and accounts for most URIs.
  • Bacteria or viruses are transferred when a hand exposed to the pathogens touches the nose or mouth or by directly inhaling respiratory droplets from an infected person.
  • The incubation period varies from one day to 14 days.
  • Most symptoms of URIs, including local swelling, redness, secretions and fever, result from the inflammatory response of the immune system to the invading viruses. 
  • A nasopharyngeal infection may spread to adjacent areas of the body, resulting in sinusitis (inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, which are air cavities in the cranial bones near the nose), epiglottitis or pneumonia.

Prevention

  • Ensure that your child washes his hands regularly to keep them clean.
  • Cups and glasses used by infected children should be washed immediately before another child drinks from it.
  • Used towels, handkerchiefs and napkins should be washed thoroughly.
  • Used tissues and paper napkins should be disposed off immediately.
  • Doorknobs, remote controls, light switches and telephones should be wiped at regular intervals.
  • Wipe clean the common items that the child uses.
  • The child should avoid sudden temperature differences, (like stepping into an air-conditioned room soon after a piping hot bath) which could make him vulnerable to cold.
  • Stress (particularly exam stress), inadequate sleep, improper nutrition can bring down the body's resistance to colds.

When to worry

  • If the cold symptoms worsen after the third day, consult a doctor.
  • If it is a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
  • Your general practitioner (GP) or paediatrician is the best person to prescribe the right antibiotics.
  • Vaccines are recommended for children to prevent serious complications from seasonal URIs.
  • Never have antibiotics without a prescription.

Call a doctor when:


  • The temperature is 100°F or higher
  • The sore throat worsens to hoarseness of voice
  • There is difficulty in swallowing
  • Nasal secretions turn thick and are yellow or green in colour

Kitchen cures

If you or your child have a cold, be prepared to bear the ailment for a few days. As common cold has to run its course before you feel any better.

Since the infection is usually caused by a virus, there is little that medication can do to cure the condition.

In such cases, natural remedies can help to facilitate recovery and provide relief from the distressing symptoms. Try the following home remedies from your own kitchen next time you fall sick.

  • Lemon and honey mixed in warm water can be consumed twice a day. Vitamin C in lemon improves the body’s resistance and lowers the toxic nature of the infection.
  • Saline gargles may also soothe an itchy throat. If your child has a sore throat or throat infection, encourage her to gargle her mouth with lukewarm saline water. For younger kids who do not know how to gargle, show them how to do so.
  • Before going to bed, the child could have a glass of milk mixed with turmeric and ginger. The anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric may ease the symptoms of cold.
  • If your child has a runny nose, he could inhale the vapours of turmeric or eucalyptus oil added to steaming water. The vapours inhaled, cause a discharge of the mucus, thus clearing congestion.
  • If your child is sick, she should drink plenty of fluids like water, soups (chicken, vegetables or even clear soup) and herbal tea. Drinking fluids prevent dehydration and keep the throat moist.
  • Avoid colas and other caffeinated drinks.

So, initial allergic symptoms, such as mild throat irritation or low-grade fever, do not warrant anything more than home remedies and some decongestants. At the end of the day, remember to stay warm and hydrated, and take plenty of rest. This will ensure that the body directs its energy towards fighting the cold efficiently. Take care.

The author Dr Shreevidya Venkataraman is a medical practitioner in Chennai.

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