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When Natural Is The Only Way To Go
by Patti Hermes
In the news, just in time for cold and flu season, drug manufacturers are voluntarily pulling over-the-counter cold and cough medicines targeted for babies and toddlers. In an announcement by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the makers were taking action in response to reports of misuse by parents which has led to some accidental overdoses.
The FDA is also taking a second look at these medicines, as well as antihistamines, which can be extremely dangerous in young children. In fact, there have been some infant deaths linked to accidental overdoses of cold medicines. And the American Academy of Pediatricians has said these same over-the-counter cough and cold medicines don't work in young children, even as old as six, and may pose health risks.
So what's a parent to do when the whole house comes down with cold after cold after miserable cold? All those expensive cold medicines were only masking symptoms with groggy side effects, and all you really want to do is make your little darlings feel better, right? Well, if you've never wanted to try natural remedies before, now's the time.
You often hear about the best ways to prevent getting sick in the first place: washing hands often and keeping them away from your eyes, nose, mouth; avoiding others who have colds (yes, even friends!); eat a healthy diet with loads of fruits and vegetables. Yet, no matter how much you try to keep them healthy, kids still tend to get 6-10 colds per year.
So, when the family all comes home to recuperate, what do you do? Make them comfortable, of course! Having a cold or the flu can make you feel tired and lazy, right? Because you need REST in order to recover. It's time to lay low, stay home, don't go to school or work, where they'll only be miserable and infect others. Keep the house warm and cozy, maybe dim the lights to invite lots of napping. Instead of noisy cartoons, listen to soft music or read books with them.
Keep them hydrated, inside and out. Make sure they get lots of water, clear broth (chicken and vegetable soups work best), watered-down juices, warm herbal teas (decaffeinated) with lemon or honey for older children.
If they develop a low-grade fever, try treating it with chicken soup instead of Tylenol, for a change. It helps to keep them quietly resting if they just don't feel so well. For achy bodies that keep them tossing and turning, go ahead and give them some acetaminophen, carefully following the directions, or check with your pediatrician's office for proper dosage instructions.
For sore throats, you've probably heard of gargling with warm salt water. Also, try mixing a little lemon juice into warm water, sweeten with honey. For clearing stuffy noses you can't beat the bulb syringe. Also hydrate little noses with a humidifier, steamy shower or bath, and plain old saline for noses. Help little ones to blow their noses rather than sniffle, and remind older ones. For nighttime congestion, my favorite is the vapor rub. Truly, a little goes a long way!
But the most difficult symptom to ease, especially at night, is the cough. Mostly because there are so many different coughs, and so many reasons for coughing, that one solution won't work all the time. When all the humidifying and hydrating and decongesting doesn't work, there's always the Hot Cocoa Remedy, followed by a back rub. You may need to try several kinds before settling on the right one (marshmallows are not recommended). And though it probably won't work on every cough, I'm happy to say that it covers 90% of them in this house. It seems to fix most anything else that ails us, as well.
So stay well this season. But if you can't, then stay home, and get well.
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| Patti Hermes is a freelance writer and columnist, specializing in family and parenting subjects and works for children, as well as essays and a blog, Writes For Chocolate. She works at home where she referees two spirited little boys and occasionally their father. Originally from Massachusetts, she and her husband of eighteen years are now raising their happy family in the Midwest. To read more visit her on the web at