Dr. Natalie Geary was trained at Harvard University and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and is the Founder of vedaPURE , a natural skincare line for families. She lectures and writes extensively for both schools and the media, and is currently working on a book on allergy and cleansing diets for children.

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What can I do when my child gets a cold?

For most healthy children, a cold is caused by a virus, not bacteria, so the only “cure” for the common cold is watchful waiting, fluids and TLC. But kids feel terrible when they are sick with bad colds, and parents want to help- but what’s a parent to do now that all the cold medicines have been recalled and regulated?

Unfortunately, the over-the-counter medicines may have worked well for your child in the past- or so you thought- but, with most viral infections, a child improves on his or her own after three days, and the credit should not go to any cough medicine- it’s due to your child’s own healthy immune system and your attentive parenting!

So what should you do when your child gets a cold?

Over the counter pain-relievers such as Tylenol or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) will help reduce the accompanying symptoms such as sore throat, aches and malaise. However, be sure you are not masking more serious symptoms such as high fever, neck pain or back pain. And remember-never use Aspirin in anyone under age 18 because of the associated risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but dangerous illness.

Old fashioned TLC tips:

  1. CLEAR FLUIDS: Avoid dairy products but offer lots of other liquids to keep the congestion loose and decrease the risk of ear and sinus infections.
  2. Humidifiers and Steam Showers: Help keep the air moist and makes it easier for your child to breathe. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean to avoid the overgrowth of mold and other organisms. Be sure to change the water daily and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Take your child in the shower with you, or steam up the bathroom.
  3. Try vedaPURE’s BREATHE, (order at vedapure.com) – an all-natural vapor salve with Eucalyptus that soothes and comforts your child as she breathes.
  4. Use Saline Nose drops to make it easier for your child to breathe, and to eat. But avoid the use of a bulb-syringe: they can cause trauma and swelling to the inside of your child’s nose and make the situation that much worse. Just drop the saline in, and let your child sneeze.
  5. If your child is old enough to suck on a lozenge, buy ZINC lozenges which help restore the integrity of the membrane at the back of your child’s throat and promote healing.

Remember to call your doctor if:

  1. Your child is under three months of age
  2. There is any difficulty breathing or swallowing or has any change in color when he coughs
  3. Has a temperature higher than 102
  4. Has a persistent temperature for more than 3 days
  5. Is not urinating or seems lethargic
  6. Is not able to play, interact
  7. Is deteriorating instead of improving despite your care after two days
  8. Coughs up blood, green sputum or vomits from coughing too hard


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