Articles on common cold

Cough ,Cold and Ear Infection in Children

Dr. Vipul Mehrotra, Pediatrician
Because their immune systems are still developing, children are especially vulnerable to viruses and bacteria, and they tend to get sick more than grown ups. Most of the time, all kids need is a little symptom relief and comfort. Here's how you can help yours recover faster from colds, coughs, and earaches, plus how to tell when sickness indicates something more serious.Treating coldsBabies and kids typically get six to eight colds a year -- just think of all the stuff they're constantly sticking into their mouths and it's easy to understand why. The good news: These infections actually help strengthen their immune systems down the line. Meanwhile, to help her feel better:Saline drops in the nose can reduce congestion (follow package directions for dosage). This is especially helpful for babies too young to blow their noses. Put a cool-mist vaporizer in her bedroom -- moist air helps alleviate congestion.Give infant acetaminophen (babies older than 3 months only) to ease her discomfort. For babies 3 months or younger, don't give any medication without talking to your doctor first (it can mask a fever, which requires immediate medical attention in infants; for more info, see "Fevers", below).Call the doctor if-You suspect the flu in an infant younger than 3 months, go to the doctor right away (symptoms of flu include fever, fatigue, and listlessness); from 3 to 6 months of age, it's less urgent, so call your pediatrician and ask what the best course of action is. (Remember, symptoms of flu come on suddenly -- as opposed to cold symptoms, which come on gradually -- and they're more intense.) Your child shows symptoms of sinus inflammation or sinusitis (a bacterial infection of the facial cavities), both of which may cause a wet or phlegmy cough, bad breath, and thick yellow or green mucus. Sinusitis may also bring on a headache and fever. If your doctor diagnoses an infection, he'll likely prescribe antibiotics.Soothing coughs.A cough often develops with a cold, and can be persistent. There's usually nothing to worry about, and the best thing to do is let it run its course. To make your child more comfortable-Offer liquids to lubricate an irritated, cough-prone throat. For babies, nurse or bottle-feed more frequently. For children, give water, warm tea, or diluted juice (semi-frozen if you want, for its soothing chill).At bedtime, elevate your child's head with a wedge underneath his mattress. Always ask a pediatrician before giving a child under 3 years of age an over-the-counter cough preparation or decongestant. For all kids, avoid any medication that contains phenylpropanolamine, which may trigger seizures and increase the risk of stroke.Call the doctor if-Your child has a severe cough and a fever of more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit that lasts more than a day; you'll need to have your pediatrician rule out strep. (A rectal temperature is the most accurate reading.) Your child is wheezing and coughing to the point that he's having trouble breathing -- or he shows a loss of appetite and unusual lethargy. This could signal a more serious infection such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can lead to bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small tubes of the lungs. Bronchiolitis can be life-threatening in some babies under 6 months, and in preemies up to 1 year.Your child has a hacking, barking cough -- usually at night -- which means he probably has croup, an infection of the larynx (the voice box). Call the doctor no matter the hour; he'll probably advise you to elevate your child's head and go out into the cool night air with him. If your child is struggling for breath, go to the emergency room. He likely will be given an injection of steroids -- a standard treatment that's safe in kids as young as 3 months -- and perhaps a nebulizer with medication to help open his airways.Your child's cough persists for a week or two and then worsens, with severe and prolonged coughing jags punctuated by gags and gasps and, occasionally, vomiting. This could be pertussis (a.k.a. whooping cough). In spite of its name, babies under 1 rarely "whoop." Nor do adults (kids do). Your doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics.Babies are especially vulnerable until they get the third of four diphtheria- tetanus-pertussis (DtP) vaccinations, usually at 6 months. Those under 3 months are at increased risk for pertussis-related apnea, in which they stop breathing altogether and need emergency help. The best prevention: Stay on schedule with baby shots and remain vigilant for signs of pertussis until full protection kicks in around 6 months. When kids hit 11 or 12, they'll need a booster shot.FeversA fever indicates that the body is working to fight an infection, and is usually not a cause for concern. How your child is behaving is actually a better way to tell how ill she is. If your baby has a fever but plays normally (rather than being listless and fussy), there's probably nothing to worry about. Same goes for toddlers and older kids. As long as your child acts like she normally does, all you need to do is comfort her by:Making sure she gets plenty of rest. Giving her lots of fluids. Infants and toddlers may be given a commercial rehydrating solution, such as Pedialyte or Rehydralyte. Sponging her with tepid water or placing her in a bath of lukewarm water. Giving her acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce her discomfort, as long as the doctor says it's okay. (Children under 18 should never be given aspirin; it's been linked to Reye's syndrome, a serious disease that affects the brain and liver.)Call the doctor if-An infant 3 months or younger has a temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, even if she shows no other signs of illness. (Always use a rectal thermometer for babies this age since it provides the most accurate reading.) And be ready for a trip to the emergency room to rule out a serious infection -- in the early weeks of life, babies have a limited ability to fight illness because their immune systems are not fully developed.Your 3- to 6-month-old has a temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, as children this age have a greater (though still small) risk of a serious bacterial infection than older kids do. An older child's temperature hasn't improved in three days or reaches 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. A feverish child of any age develops other symptoms -- a rash, an earache, swollen glands, or trouble breathing. The pediatrician will want to make sure your child doesn't have a serious illness, such as pneumonia or meningitis. Your child suffers a febrile convulsion. These seizures are scary but not uncommon, and happen most often in babies between 6 months and 2 years. Have the doctor check your child the first time this happens to make sure it hasn't been caused by an underlying condition. Kids prone to febrile convulsions usually outgrow them by age 6 with no long-term effects.Ear infectionsBy age 3, 70 percent of children have had at least one ear infection. The vast majority occur when fluid accumulates in the middle ear and becomes infected (usually a bacterial infection), causing pain, swelling, and redness. If your baby seems uncomfortable and begins pulling on his ears, you may have an ear infection on your hands.About 80 percent of the time, the infection will clear up on its own in a few days, so you may not need an antibiotic. New evidence shows that antibiotics simply don't help most kids that much -- they end pain at best half a day sooner than if left untreated. Many experts think it's best to wait on antibiotics and manage the discomfort by:Giving your child acetaminophen or pain-numbing drops (which your doctor can prescribe) Applying mild heat to the ear-try a warm, moist washcloth.Call the doctor if-You suspect an ear infection and your child is 2 or younger. Your older child has mild pain in his ears for more than 24 hours; is in great pain; is running a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; or younotice pus coming out of his ears, or the glands in his neck seem swollen.Your child gets one ear infection after another. If this is the case, talk to your pediatrician about whether ear tubes are a good option. These tubes are implanted surgically, and are designed to allow bacteria-friendly fluids to drain from the ear. Tube implantation should be a last resort, but chronic ear infections shouldn't be ignored since they can affect a young child's hearing and delay speech.Preventing ear infections-To lower your child's odds of getting an ear infection:Breastfeed. This is associated with a lower risk of ear infections.Feed upright. In young children, the ear's Eustachian tube goes in a straight line from the mouth to the nose to the ear, so when a child lies flat, formula or milk may drain through the tube into the middle ear and provide a meal for bacteria.Limit pacifiers. A study found that babies who didn't use pacifiers had one- third fewer middle ear infections. If your baby loves his, try giving it only at naptime and bedtime.Stop sniffles. Ear infections often follow colds, so cold-prevention tips matter: Remind kids to wash hands with soap and water after they cough or sneeze, and before meals.Don't smoke. Kids who are exposed to secondhand smoke get more ear infections; it irritates mucous membranes and damages tiny hairs in the middle ear.Stay up-to-date with vaccines. The pneumococcal vaccine, Prevnar (recommended for all healthy children under 2), mainly prevents bacterial meningitis, but also guards against seven strains of ear infection-causing bacteria. (Babies typically get four shots, between 2 and 15 months.)SummaryYour child is bound to get her share of coughs, colds, and earaches when she's little. They'll become less frequent as her immune system strengthens. Meanwhile, be watchful of symptoms and give her plenty of TLC.

Natural Ways To Kick A Cold

Dr. Prabha Acharya, Dermatologist
Trying to get over a cold? There are lots of things you can do to ease the symptoms as you get better. Here are some easy ones.Turn Up the HeatWhen a cold strikes, chicken soup and hot tea can ease your symptoms. The reason: heat. As the warmth moves down your throat towards your stomach, it helps loosen mucus, making it easier to cough out. Steam works the same way. Sitting in the bathroom with a hot shower running can relieve your stuffy nose and head.Stay HydratedWhen you have a cold, your body makes more mucus. Making mucus uses up your body's moisture. Getting extra fluids thins out mucus and makes it less sticky, which makes it easier to blow or cough out. Limit drinks with caffeine and alcohol, as they can be dehydrating.Soothe Your SkinYou blow your nose a lot when you have a cold. The result can be red, chapped skin on and beneath your nose. Add a dab of petroleum jelly to the raw area, or use facial tissues that contain lotion.Gargle Salt WaterIf you have a sore throat, make a salt-water gargle by mixing a teaspoon of salt in a small glass of warm water. The salty-warm combo provides short-term relief.Consider SupplementsSome supplements have been found to shorten -- but not cure -- cold. Ask your doctor about zinc, vitamin c, and echinacea. Tell your doctor before starting any new supplement or medication.Your doctor will make sure it won't interact with any other drug you're taking.Prevent the SpreadYou should stay home while you're getting over your cold. If you have to go out, try to limit the number of people you come in contact with. Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze to keep from getting germs on your hands. A little courtesy goes a long way.Hang in there. The common cold usually goes away in about a week, so take it easy, take care of yourself, and you’ll be back to normal even before you know it.

Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin C Fixed

Dr. Narendra Mahara PT, Physiotherapist
Good for a cold?Your immune system needs vitamin C to work right. But extra won't help you avoid a cold, unless maybe you're an extreme athlete, live in a very cold place, or you just need more anyway. Supplements might shorten a cold or ease its symptoms -- if you were taking them before you got sick.Prevents cell damage Vitamin C helps you get rid of chemicals that damage your cells and DNA. It's considered an antioxidant: It neutralizes "free radicals" in your body created by pollution, cigarette smoke, sunlight, radiation, and simply turning food into energy. That could help keep many parts of your body working better for longer and protect you from diseases, including Alzheimer's and cancer.Builds skin, bones, muscles, and moreYour body would fall apart without the protein collagen. Collagen fibers twist around each other to form scaffolding for your bones, cartilage, skin, and muscles (including your heart). They're also in ligaments, tendons and blood vessels. You need collagen to grow new skin and make scar tissue when you get cut and to keep your skin from getting wrinkles. And your body can't make collagen without vitamin C.Brain boosterYou need vitamin C to make key hormones that carry signals from your brain all over your body. These include serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. They affect your mood, memory, motivation, and how you feel pain. For example, serotonin plays a role in keeping your daily sleep cycle on track. It's also what a common drug for depression works on.May preserve sightThe vitamin A in carrots isn't the only thing that's good for your eyes. Some studies show that vitamin C might slow age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from getting worse, but it won't prevent the disease. Other studies suggest a link between vitamin C and a lower risk of cataracts.Fights cancerVery high doses of vitamin C, especially through an IV, may slow the growth and spread of cancer cells. It can help chemotherapy and radiation work better. It may help you feel better and have fewer side effects, too. But it can also make treatments less effective. The FDA hasn't approved vitamin C as a cancer treatment, so check with your doctor to see if this therapy makes sense for you.Here are some ways by which you can fix your daily dosage of Vitamin C and no, they don't include only tangerines:From fruits Look beyond the usual oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes. Berries -- strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries -- are also good sources. So are papaya, kiwi, pineapple, cantaloupe, plums, and watermelon. Even bananas, apples, and pears have some.Fresh and raw are best because vitamin C breaks down over time and when heated.From VeggiesBell peppers are big winners. Load up on leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, collards, and the like), cabbage, and bok choy. Crunch into broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squash are also good sources.It's better to steam or microwave vegetables if you're going to cook them. These methods tend to destroy less of the vitamin. How much do you need? Adult men should get 90 milligrams every day. Women need 75 milligrams, but more when they're pregnant or breastfeeding. Your body can't make it. But most people who eat a variety of vegetables and fruits daily get more than enough vitamin C from their food.If you want to take a supplement, look for the inexpensive ascorbic acid form. Check with your doctor about how much is right for you.Smokers need more When you smoke, you'll have lower levels of vitamin C in your body. It may be because you have more free radicals to get rid of. You should aim for an extra 35 milligrams every day to make up for it.People who are around smokers are also affected and should try to get more vitamin C, too.Too little in body Through the 1700s, sailors on long trips would die from scurvy because they had little or no vitamin C in their diet. It's uncommon today, but people who don't eat well or abuse alcohol or drugs might be low. Medical conditions, such as some cancers and kidney diseases, can also cause problems. Symptoms include being tired, swollen or bleeding gums, loose teeth, achy joints, thickened skin, bruises, and cuts that don't heal right.Too much in body Your body can't handle a lot of vitamin C, and you'll pee out what it doesn't use. More than 2,000 milligrams a day for adults can cause stomach trouble, belly cramps, and diarrhea. Big doses can also lead to kidney stones.Partner with other nutrientsPut red peppers in your spinach salad. Have some broccoli with your baked beans. Or add strawberries to your oatmeal. Vitamin C helps your body use the kind of iron found in plants, which doesn't get absorbed as easily as the kind in meat and fish.Vitamin C also teams up with other antioxidants, especially vitamin E and flavonoids. Bonus: They're often found in the same foods.

Can I Give Curd, Banana, Milk During Cold , Cough & Fever to My Baby?

Hemapriya Natesan
As a parent, we hear so much advice, home remedies,  tips for prevention and treatment of fever, cough and cold that bewilders a new parent and ultimately we end up doing nothing due to fear of harming our little one.Myths surrounding foods and ailments are always not true except for a few genuine home remedies.Myths associated with Cough and Cold in ChildrenDon't allow the kid outside the house if he has a cold.Do not give fruits like Banana, pomegranate, watermelon, orange and grapes.Do not give dairy products like Milk and Curd.Don't bath the child during a cold.Do not give Ragi in winter or during cold.Do not give ghee during a cold.Here are the answers to all these myths1. Can I allow my child to play outside if he has a cough and cold ?This is a very tricky question since it largely depends on the weather and the intensity of the cold and cough of the child. If you think the child has a mild cold and the weather is amicable you can send your little one to play outside for an hour or so. Please also be aware that if he has an infectious type of cold or a cough he might infect his playmates as well (this is the most common reason for contracting cold in children)2. Can I give Bananas, grapes, watermelon, oranges during cold and cough to my child?It has been programmed into our brain that "No fruits during cold and cough in Children" and many of us follow blindly. This is a myth that has been proved wrong now.It has been proved scientifically that increase in fruits rich in vitamin C are in fact protective against cold and cough in children. This doesn't mean that you stuff your children with fruits when they have, consumption of fruits in moderation is the ideal way to combat cough and cold.The fruits can be given in the first half of the day.Research articles emphasizing the protective & beneficial effects of fruits in cough and cold1. Consumption of fresh fruits rich in Vitamin C and Wheezing symptoms.2. Effect of fresh fruit consumption on lung function and wheeze in children.3. Nutrition and children's respiratory health.According to our Homeopathic Expert Dr Bhavi Mody, fruits can be safely given during cough and cold, especially fruits rich in Vitamin C.3. Can I give Milk, Curd during cold and cough for my child?In my childhood days, if I had a cold, then my mom would ban milk till I recover completely which may be weeks :-(Now this is also has been proved wrong, milk and curds can be safely given to babies and children during cold and cough.Milk consumption does not lead to mucus production or occurrence of asthma.The Milk Mucus BeliefHow to feed milk and curd to children during cough and cold - Dhvani ShahThe best way to give curd is to season it (Tadka) with jeera, curry leaves, and ginger.Ginger Powder can be added to Milk.4. Can I give Bath to my child during cold and cough, Fever?Usually, elders advice not to give baths to babies during fever, cough and cold, it may hold good if you are planning to bath with cold water. But most of us bathe our children in either hot or lukewarm water. It is absolutely fine to bath the child with lukewarm water. Not giving a bath to the child for a long duration may exacerbate infections due to poor hygiene so try to bath at least once in 2 days during cold and cough.5. Can I give my baby Ragi during cold and cough?Ragi and Bajra are good winter foods and Ragi can be given to babies and children during cough and cold.6. Can I give my Ghee during cough and cold?According to Nutritionist Dhvani Shah" Ghee is one of the most nutritious Indian foods. It is therapeutic in Nature, helps line the lungs, prevent infection, prevent a dry cough and throw out mucous from the body".Hope that helps dispel some of the most popular myths surrounding Cough and cold in childrenThis article first appeared on www.mylittlemoppet.com, India's leading parenting website.

Colds and Coughs in Children

Dr. Murali Gopal, Pulmonologist
This is one of the most common issues in kids of preschool age. Almost all toddlers would have had at least one episode of common cold (runny nose) and cough before they turn 2. It is commonly caused by viruses and mostly seen in winter months or during weather changes.  These viral infections are self limiting illness, where the child will get better by two weeks from onset of symptoms.It is usual to have fever when kids develop these respiratory tract infections. Some children especially preschool children can develop wheezing following viral upper respiratory tract infections. These can repeat with further infections. Most of these preschool wheezers out grow their symptoms by the time they reach 6-8 years of age. Some of them may require inhaler therapy during episodes. Few children with allergic symptoms may develop asthma as they get older. There is advancement of inhaler therapy over the last few years both for children and adults. There is misconception that inhalers are ‘addictive’. It is best way to give the medicine directly into the lungs as it is breathed in to where it is needed and it reduces the chance of side effect from oral medicines given for wheezing. These medications when given by mouth as syrup or tablets can cause undesired side effects compared to inhalers.Cough is a worrying symptom for most parents. Cough is a natural, protective reflex we have to expel the irritant,phlegm in the breathing tubes and lungs. Cough lasting for more than 3 weeks needs attention especially if it sounds moist. Cough medications may reduce the cough and makes the secretions thicker making it harder to cough up. Some cough medicines available in the market can lead to serious side effects and some are not licensed to be used in children. When do we worry about child’s respiratory symptoms? Cough in newborn baby and unvaccinated babies in the first 4 months of age.Child has persistent cough for more than 3 weeks which sounds moist.Sudden onset of cough following choking and breathing difficulties.Child has breathing difficulty like breathing faster, working hard to breath.Coughing up greenish sputum or blood.Do not self medicate children as their symptoms may vary with episodes. Always consult your child’s doctor before giving medicine to your child, even if medicines are prescribed for similar symptoms in the past.

Recurrent Infections in Children - Homeopathy to the Rescue

Dr. Mahesh M, Homeopath
Cold, cough, fever, blocked nose, breathing with mouth all the time, antibiotics twice a month, decreased appetite and a restless, listless child... I am sure you are worried sick if your child has one of these or more problems. Somewhere you are aware of a feeling that this isn't right, all the medicines you are pumping into that delicate body. But what else to do? First, understand what is happening to your child. What is normal and whether your child’s reactions and problems are within normal limits. It is normal for a child till the age of 5 years to fall sick once or twice a year. Thrice is still permissible. Anything more than that comes under the category of frequent infections. Secondly, once a child has cold and cough, the fever must rise to a good 102 to 103 degrees and then within a couple of days the child must be fine again. Also, there must not be any remnants of the cold and cough in between these episodes. The child must feed well, sleep peacefully and wake up fresh and be raring to go. If this is not what happens with your not, then the child is suffering a low immunity. Typically people will tell you that these problems will go away by the time the child is 5. Observe closely what happens. In most cases, the recurrent infections will give way to a deeper chronic problem such as asthma. So the problem isn't going anywhere but inside.Homeopathy is a true solution in these cases because while the child is not afraid of the doctor and will actually want to take the medicines we give. It is gentle and does not cause any unwanted effects on the child - even newborns. That apart, the main reason to give homeopathy to children with repeated infections is that it builds their immune system and lays a foundation for a strong body and chemical free constitution. Appetite improves and the child develops all round. Think about it. After all, today the biggest challenge to us is to keep ourselves free of all the noxious elements in the environment without us adding to it voluntarily. In such a scenario, homeopathy is your handy tool. Gift your child the freedom of health.

Monsoon Mania on Your Health

Dr. Shashank Kumar Srivastav, General Practitioner
Finally some respite from the heat, time for the colourful umbrellas, waterproof bags and raincoats to come out of the closet. While the monsoons usher in cooler, rain-drenched days, it also increases the capacity for bacterial infection in one's body. Cold, cough, sore throat, viral fever, allergies, diarrhoea, dengue, Swine flu and malaria are the common problems that affect people during this season. 3 types of Infections that Commonly affect and make us ill:1. Mosquito-borne diseases: This season, people are prone to mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue fever and avian influenza or Bird Flu (H5N1). Malaria being lethal, if left untreated. A spell of Bird Flu (H5N1) can cause severe joint pains, which can last for weeks and months. Dengue fever can also be very serious in certain cases where drop in platelet count makes the prognosis poor. However, early detection and treatment can help one recover faster from dengue.2. Air-borne diseases: Air-borne viral infections are often mild and can cause minor infections in adults. However, senior citizens and young children are more vulnerable to these infections and need to take proper care. Viral infections usually present as high grade fever with common cold and cough. The temperature is markedly between 101 degree F - 104 degree F. The only management in this is rest, paracetamol in guided doses of your physician and people can also take antibiotics which will not treat viral infection but will help in prophylaxis to prevent secondary bacterial infections. It's also said that taking plenty of fluids and hot water bath could help has viruses are sensitive to hot water.3. Water-borne diseases: Moulds growing on humid surfaces including your clothes and moist areas of the skin, can also be dangerous during the season. However, mould-induced infections are often mild in nature and can be treated easily. Prevention is always better than cure:One must drink only clean water and use boiled water or water purifiers.One should change their hand towels after a day's use.You can also use an alcohol gel product available over the counter, which is also effective in protecting against flu. One should cover their mouth and nose with a handkerchief while coughing or sneezing or use your arm pits in case you don't carry with you handkerchief.Use mosquito repellents and nets (dengue transmitting mosquitoes usually bite during day time; either early morning or late evening).One should keep their wet and soggy clothes or shoes away from dry garments.Avoid eating out and consume as much fresh food as possible.Drink warm water every two hours and carry home-boiled water while travelling.Avoid visiting crowded places such as theatres or exhibitions.Use hand sanitisers while travelling.Cover your nose while travelling on a bike/while seated next to the window in a bus or train.Avoid getting wet in the rain. Approach your physician for any ill health , avoid taking medications at the counter of pharmacy.Prevention for kids:Parents must keep their children away from those with infectious illnesses while playing with friends in the neighbourhood or at school.Parents should also ensure that their child's nails are always clean to prevent accumulation of germs and dirt; to ensure proper washing of hands and legs and provide nutritious food with a balanced diet. Keep your child indoors during the  rain as it contains acidic elements which can cause skin problems. It is advised to keep young kids and infants inside during the rain or during monsoon season as young children tend to fall sick frequently during this season. Kids should be kept away from rain till the weather stabilises.Parents should take care of themselves so that they don't transmit their virus or infection to their children. The treatment:Infections during the monsoon usually start with tonsillitis, cold and cough and gradually spread to the rest of the body. Symptoms of viral fever are body and muscle pain, headache, joint pain, redness of eyes, skin rash and nasal congestion. Some people also experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. The treatment of viral fever is entirely symptomatic and it usually comes down after four or five days. Here are some home remedies for viral symptoms:Adequate hydration by drinking lot of liquids. Antipyretics and analgesics for fever and body pain. Steam inhalation for nasal congestion and sinus pain. Salt water gargle for sore throat.To keep in mind: Avoid self medication with antibiotics. Though it is highly contagious, the chances of it turning life-threatening are quite rare. If symptoms are severe or long lasting, visit your doctor to rule out any bacterial infection. Take a booster every year.