Saturday, March 16, 2013

colds and coughs

Colds and coughs are a common issue for all of us with or without kids.
Studies say that most children will have an average of EIGHT colds within the first 18 months of life.
Most of the time the congestion is caused by a viral syndrome.
All that mucous is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which is why something that starts as a virus can turn into an ear infection, sinus infection, or lower respiratory infection fairly quickly.
We can see a patient one day with clear lungs and no ear issues, and the very next day they can seem a lot worse and have a raging infection.

If you are dealing with a congested family member, here are the questions that you need to answer
*Do they seem to be having any labored breathing? (I don’t mean from a stuffy nose)
*How is their mood?
*Do they have a fever?
*Are they eating?
*Are they sleeping well at night?
* What color is the mucous?
*How long has this been going on?

If we have a reasonable consolable child, clear mucous, eating and sleeping okay, breathing isn’t alarming, fever is less than 3 days and responds to fever reducers,
That is someone I am okay playing the “wait and see” game.
Many colds and coughs can last between 7-10 days. Some coughs can linger for a few weeks.

If you have any labored breathing, wheezing, lots of fussiness, a fever that is hard to control, or mucous that is getting thicker and greener, then that person needs to be seen.

Any baby less then 2 months old, is probably worth a look at with their first cold, unless they are eating really well and seem happy.

The best way to manage a cold at home is to make sure your little patient is getting plenty of fluids ( this will help to keep the mucous thinner) Breast milk is perfect. With some older kids, cows milk may not be the best choice because it can increase the amount of mucous.
Running a humidifier or vaporizer at night is a good idea. Turn it off during the day and give the room a chance to dry out so that you don’t grow mold. Make sure you change the water daily.
Keeping the head elevated makes a huge difference. Some of the younger babies will do best sleeping in their car seats. Other wise try a crib wedge, or placing a towel underneath the mattress to raise it up a bit.
Saline drops or breast milk into the nose ( and then suck it out with a nose frida or snot sucker) is the most natural way to clear the nose.
For patients over 4 months of age, ask your doctor about Windbreaker ( a Chinese herb that we use with great results to dry up congestion)
This past winter we have also seen a lot of croup.
Many kids with croup will wake up suddenly in the middle of the night with a very harsh barky cough that sounds like a seal.
This is a virus that usually lasts about 3 nights. Some kids will have fevers with this. Most are much better during the day.
The best treatment for this is steam.
Stay calm and bring your little one into the bathroom and run the shower.
If a few minutes of steam are not easing things, it is reasonable to head over to the ER. 90% of the time your child will be much better by the time you arrive. Once in a while kids do need a shot of steroids to calm things down.

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