3 Simple things to improve your child’s cold symptoms
|Sarah Osborne, CPNP
About the author: Sarah is a PNCB Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at One Health Pediatric Center in Owensboro Kentucky, and mother of five. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Science and Nursing from the University of Kentucky and her Master’s Degree in Science and Nursing from Vanderbilt University. Pediatrics is her passion.
As a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and a mom, I see a lot of snotty noses. The number one question I get in my office this time of year is “what can I do for my child’s runny nose and cough?” Unfortunately, no one has discovered a cure for the common cold, or the “Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)” as it is referred to in medical terms. These viral illnesses are something our bodies just have to fight, and none of the over-the-counter cough and cold syrups are recommended for children under 8 since research has not been able to show them effective. The best thing we can do when a virus gets ahold of us or our little ones is treat the symptoms and let their immune system fight the virus.
So how do we best do that you ask? Several things can help. I tell all my patients there are three big things that improve cold symptoms for a child. These are:
1. Saline and suction
2. Cool mist humidifier
3. Elevate the head of the bed
These three things in addition to encouraging lots of fluids, and getting plenty of rest will help the most with that dreaded runny or stuffy nose. Why do they work? Because helping to keep that mucous thin and moving is the biggest thing you can do to help get over a cold in children. A few drops of saline (such as Neilmed’s NasaDrops® Saline on the Go) in the nose and a good suction bulb (such as Neilmed’s Naspira® or Nasabulb®) can help get all that mucous out of little noses so that children can eat, drink, and sleep better. Removing the drainage from their noses can also help prevent it from sitting in their sinuses and allowing bacteria to grow causing sinus infections (sinusitis) or ear infections.
A humidifier also works to help keep all that congestion thin and moving. At night, a child is drinking less and their mucous can get thick and dry, making it difficult to breathe through their nose. It can also collect in the back of their throats causing them to cough and lose sleep overnight. In children over one year old, honey or a vapor rub may also help, but the humidifier helps keep their noses from getting so dry and allows for better drainage.
Elevating the head of the bed by adding an extra pillow in older children, or putting a pillow or rolled towel under a crib mattress to elevate the entire mattress in smaller children can also help keep that mucous from collecting in their noses and the backs of their throats at night.