When cough and cold season has hit your household, these tips will soothe your little one’s sore throat—and help everyone get a good night’s sleep.
Most parents can agree: the only thing worse than being hit with a cough or cold yourself is having your little one suffer from a bug.
For starters, it’s hard to watch your child struggle through the physical discomfort of a respiratory illness. Coughs can also have downstream effects that are hard on the whole family—particularly if non-stop coughing and breathing difficulties keep the whole household up all night.
It’s also trickier to treat symptoms in younger kids: while pharmacy shelves may be full of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, Health Canada cautions that certain active ingredients—including some antihistamines, decongestants, expectorants and antitussives—pose health risks, including overdose and serious side effects, for children under six and are unsafe to use.
So how can parents provide little ones with some relief from the endless hacking and misery of cough, cold and flu season? Joshua Abraham, a pharmacist, and Director of Quality Assurance at Dr. Chase Pediatrics, recommends seeking out tried-and-true natural ingredients that have safely been providing children with cough and cold relief for generations.
“Most over-the-counter medicines come from single-plant ingredients,” Abraham says. “While that makes them stronger and faster working, it also creates side effects.”
Instead of reaching for the child-sized version of your go-to adult cold and cough medication, Abraham recommends choosing herbal-based products to ease symptoms.
“Generally, natural products contain whole plant derivatives or extracts, which have fewer side effects and are gentler on the body while still being efficacious,” he says, pointing to botanicals such as thyme, which is good for fevers, colds and flu and can relive bronchial spasms and clear mucus, and elderberry, which is known to shorten the severity and duration of colds and flus.
“The ingredients in Dr. Chase Pediatrics Koff & Kold are specifically chosen from botanicals with a long history of effectiveness for addressing many of the discomforts associated with coughs and colds,” Abraham says. “For example, black elder is traditionally used in herbal medicine to help relieve symptoms of colds and flus such as coughs, sore throats and mucus discharge associated with inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Echinacea is traditionally used to help fight off infections, especially of the upper respiratory tract, and helps to relieve the symptoms and shorten the duration of colds.”
Quick, simple soothers that coat and hydrate irritated respiratory tracts can also go a long way: using the shower to steam up the bathroom or a cool mist humidifier in your child’s bedroom can provide some much-needed moisture to the airways, loosening mucus and calming irritation.
To reduce sleep disruptions, Abraham recommends looking for a nighttime formulation that contains ingredients that naturally promote calm and restfulness. “Chamomile relaxes your child and helps them sleep better,” he notes.
Contracting a cold or a cough may seem inevitable this time of year—but the misery doesn’t have to be if you lean on these time-proven tactics and ingredients. “Ultimately, a healthy child means happy parents,” Abraham says.
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