There are majorly 2 main reasons for cold and flu. One is because of a virus and the other is due to allergy.
Cold because of a virus:
- Science says that once the body faces a certain type of virus, it develops immunity towards that particular virus. For example, if a person has been infected by chickenpox virus once then there are less chances of him/her getting infected again by the same virus.
- Likewise if the child is suffering from cough due to some virus then gradually his/her body develops immunity towards that virus and with time the child will stay unaffected due to that virus in future.
- Till the age of 4 or 5 years, the child gets affected by different viruses and his/her body develops immunity towards those viruses. Hence the chances of viral attack decrease gradually as the child grows.
Cold due to allergies:
- As the child grows, his/her immunity also increases. Hence the allergic flu also decreases with increasing age in most children.
- Some children may have a natural tendency of developing allergies towards smoke, dust, dirt, or pollen, and then they might come down with cold.
If the cold and cough is due to common cold virus or due to an allergy, science does not recommend giving medicines in this case. This is because the medicines contain chemicals and ultimately these chemicals will affect child's liver. Doctors prescribe medicines for common cold and cough only when a child’s routine gets disturbed like the child does not feed well, does not sleep well.
Ruling out pneumonia:
- If your child is suffering from cold, the first thing that the doctor will identify is whether it is due to common cold virus, due to an allergy, or due to a more serious virus like pneumonia.
- Every time a child catches cold, the doctor will first rule out whether the child has pneumonia or not. You can identify whether your child has pneumonia or not by observing following symptoms in your child:
- high fever
- problem in breastfeeding
- problem in urination
- child is tired
- If your child has any of the above symptoms, it is better to consult your child’s paediatrician immediately. If these symptoms are absent and your child is playing, sleeping well, eating well, urinating well, then give only cough syrups as prescribed by your child’s paediatrician.
- Sometimes, the child develops cough which last for 8-10 weeks or even up to 3 months. This is dues to particular types of viruses and such a cough can be dealt with by giving antibiotics to children prescribed by a paediatrician.
- Watery mucus in the nose
- Watery or crusty eyes
- Feeling of tiredness
- Fever (sometimes)
- Sore throat
Excess coughing during day and night:
- If the child experiences coughing throughout the day which disturbs his/her routine, cough syrup can be given as per doctor’s advice.
- If the child experiences coughing throughout the night, it may be due to allergens, dust mites in the bed, some plants in the room, insects or cockroaches. In this case, it is best to keep the bedding clean and the bedroom hygienic. Make sure there are no such insects or mites or plants in the bedroom that might cause allergy to the child.
Child ends up vomiting after coughing: Sometimes when the coughing is intense, it is accompanied by vomiting. In this case, the child’s eyes turn red or watery and the face turns red while coughing. In this case, you should consult a doctor and use prescribed medicines.
Foods that cause cough and cold:
Each child has a different body tendency. Some children might suffer from cough after eating coloured food whereas some after eating sugary food. The parents should closely observe their child’s tendency for different foods which result into cold and cough. Once they identify it, they should try and avoid such foods. If the cold and cough is too much, you can avoid the following:
- Dairy products: Dairy products such as butter, cream, cheese induce mucus. So ensure that there is a limited intake of these foods when your child has a cold.
- Fried food: The fats and oils present in fatty foods like butter and cheese produce mucus. Fried food should also be avoided.
- Other foods like avocados, mushrooms, yogurt and fermented foods aggravate cold and cough.
- Sugar: Sugar and sugary foods can worsen the cough.
- Juices: Juices having high sugar content and acids irritate the throat and worsen the conditions.
Medicines for cold and cough:
Cough and cold are two different things.
Cold is nose related - running nose or blocked nose are considered as cold symptoms. There are two different types of medication based on the type of cold.
- Combination of decongestant and antihistamine
- Anti allergic medications
Cough can be of two types: dry cough and wet cough. Cough is our body’s reflex, used to clear our respiratory passages.
- Dry cough is because of throat infection.
- Wet cough is due to presence of sputum or mucus in the lungs.
Most of the medicines available are to suppress the reflux of the cough. Bronchodilators, nebulisers and inhaler pumps can be used as per the paediatrician’s advice.
Home remedies for cold and cough:
- Ginger tea: You can simply add half an inch of grated ginger to boiling water and give it to your child when it is warm. You can also add honey to mild the bitter taste of ginger. Or you can make traditional ginger tea with milk; whatever suits your child.
- Lemon, Cinnamon and honey: Half a spoon of honey, a few drops of lemon and a pinch of cinnamon. You can give this mixture twice a day.
- Lukewarm water: This reduces inflammation in the throat and helps in replenishing the fluids in the body.
- Milk and Turmeric: Turmeric mixed in warm milk or in lukewarm water does wonders.
- Gargle with salt water: You can add half a spoon of turmeric also in the water.
- Spiced tea: Basil leaves, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom mixed in the usual tea also helps in providing relief from cold.
- Honey, lime juice and warm water can also be given.
- Indian gooseberry: Eating an Indian gooseberry every day helps fight many infections.
- Ginger Basil mix: Extract ginger juice and add crushed basil leaves to it and a spoonful of honey.
- Ginger and salt: Cut ginger into small pieces and add salt to it. Chew ginger pieces to fight cough and cold.
- Jaggery solution: Boil water with black pepper, cumin and add jaggery to it. Consume when warm, it helps relieve chest congestion.
Treating Dry Cough at home:
Dry cough causes irritation in the throat and makes it sore. See which of the following remedies works the best for your child:
- Menthol cough drops: They are easily available in any chemist’s shop. It soothes and relaxes cough reflex. See that your child doesn’t get choked up. Consider your child’s age and consult a doctor before giving him cough drops.
- Soup, broth, tea or any other hot beverage: These add moisture while providing immediate relief for sore throat. Keep your child hydrated; it is essential for the healing process.
- Honey: It has anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces throat inflammation. You can add honey and lemon in warm water and give that mixture to your child twice or thrice a day.
- Saltwater gargle: Make your child gargle with lukewarm saltwater if (s)he can.
- Herbs: Herbs like turmeric, basil, mint leaves, black pepper etc. can be used either in the form of tea or just in any recipes you prefer. But avoid giving sugary foods and fried junk foods to your child.
- Plenty of fluids including lukewarm water but avoid giving cold drinks, fruit juices.
- Pineapple: Pineapple has an enzyme called bromelain which helps relieve inflammation.
Treating Wet Cough at home:
- Steamy Shower: Try to give your child a steamy shower or let him/her sit in a steamy bathroom for at least 5 minutes. You can also try using a steam inhaler if your child is old enough to handle it.
- Honey: Eating 1.5 teaspoons of honey before bed can help reduce cough and also helps in encouraging sound sleep in children.
- Herbal cough drops made with lemon, honey, ginger, and mint help in controlling wet cough.
- Vitamin C: A dose of vitamin C boosts your child’s immune system. Try giving him/her oranges or tomatoes or food having a high amount of vitamin C.
- Ask your child to wash their hands often.
- Keep your child away from the ones who have cold or cough as these are contagious diseases.
- Maintain hygiene in their surroundings.
- Give them healthy diet.