A Guide for All Ages
Watching your little one fight the cold or flu can leave you feeling helpless, especially since most children’s cough and cold medications are not recommended for children under age 4 and could be harmful if misused.
For runny noses, saline nasal sprays are a good option and can be used as tolerated by your infant. If children exhibit additional symptoms such as sneezing, they may have allergies that require an individualized approach.
Northwestern Medicine Pediatrician Anita Chandra-Puri, MD, suggests that you modify things you would do for yourself. “Since an infant can’t blow their nose, we suggest suctioning their nose, or using steam in the bathroom to loosen up congestion,” she says.
Although there are certain decongestants approved for older children, they should be used as directed by your physician. “I suggest parents bring in their child’s medication bottle when visiting their pediatrician. They can review the contents to ensure they do not exceed the recommended dosage,” says Dr. Chandra-Puri. She particularly suggests avoiding combination medications, which could have anti- fever and other medicines included. “Dosing intervals are different, so it’s important to know the components.”
It’s also important to be mindful of worsening symptoms, such as fatigue and labored breathing. “If children are really sick, we look to see if they need oxygen to help with labored breathing, antibiotics for pneumonia or other specific treatment based on their individual needs. Fevers also increase the risk for dehydration,” explains Dr. Chandra-Puri.
When in doubt, ask your pediatrician. Attention to good handwashing, rest and nutrition is always important for the prevention of the cold or flu.
In the meantime, here are ways to alleviate symptoms for additional relief.