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How To Manage the Symptoms of a Cold or Flu

Cold and flu season is comin’ in hot, as temperatures are winding down and we say goodbye to long summer days and hello to the fall chill. And along with it all the fun of runny noses and coughing to keep your kids, and you, up all night.

So how can you best manage those symptoms? Because let’s be real, a “cure” for the common cold is still quite a ways out.

Over the counter cough and cold medications are not safe to use in kiddos under the age of 4, and studies have shown that they have less than stellar results often in kids older than that.

What is a desperate parent to do?!?

A teaspoon of honey has actually been proven to be excellent in calming a cough in a sick child (over the age of 1, of course).  I actually really like Zarbees for their variety of natural honey elixirs and find them to work really well with my girls - they have one for kids under age 1 without honey as well (no, I don’t get a kickback for mentioning this brand).

Any other bulb syringe haters out there? That big green booger sucker strikes fear into the heart of many infants just at the glimpse of it. I really like the nose Frieda or any other variation of it - it’s a lot gentler on little noses and with the use of your own suction (don’t worry- you physically can’t suck their snot into your mouth, there’s a stop chamber in between) you can gently remove those boogies and help them breathe more comfortably. Using Little One’s nasal saline beforehand, just a drop in each nare can also help break up the deep crusty ones and ease their exit.

Another useful tool can be a warm, steamy shower, or turning on the shower and sitting in the bathroom with it on for a little while. This can loosen up any thick, sticky phlegm and let them breathe a little more easily.

A humidifier can also be helpful with this but does take diligent cleaning and drying between uses to make sure you don’t blast your kid with molds from being put away with water in it.

If they are burning up and achy, sometimes alternating the appropriate dose of Tylenol with Motrin, switching every 4 hours between the two medications, can give them better relief than using just one or the other (just make absolutely sure not to go over the recommended dose in 24 hours for either one).

Just remember, if you ever question what’s going on with your child, a fever just isn’t breaking or something doesn’t seem right with them, don’t be afraid to call your doctor for advice. See my blog “Flu vs. Cold” to help determine when/if you should worry more.


About Amanda Magrini

Amanda Magrini, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician at Northern Nevada Medical Group’s Los Altos location in Sparks. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Nevada, Reno and her medical training at the University of Nevada School of Medicine. Dr. Magrini has practiced family medicine for seven years, including residency, and enjoys her specialty, because she likes taking care of the whole family, from newborns to grandparents. She likes preventative medicine, helping people take care of themselves and the relationships she is able to form with her patients. Dr. Magrini grew up in Sparks, NV and likes that it is a safe place to live with great educational opportunities and beautiful scenery. She thinks Northern Nevada is a great place to raise a family and looks forward to raising her own children here. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, boating, running and traveling the world. Dr. Magrini is also very close with her family; she is married to her high school sweetheart and values spending time with him and the rest of her family. Disclosure: "The author is a licensed physician practicing with Northern Nevada Medical Group, but all opinions expressed are solely the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Northern Nevada Medical Group or any other affiliates of Universal Health Services, Inc."

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