Come winters and the fear of my kid catching cold and cough accompanied with fever starts haunting me. A viral infection is difficult to pre-empt but when your otherwise active child starts looking dull and tired, has watery eyes and sneezes continuously you know that something is wrong. A viral infection usually starts with a fever and besides a runny or blocked nose, a lot of discomfort is experienced due to body aches and headache. Most children experience a loss of appetite due to a sore throat and breathing while sleeping becomes difficult. It’s really miserable to watch your child in so much discomfort. Even after believing in “prevention is better than cure” and adopting all preventive measures to protect my child from any such infection, it is almost impossible to shield her from acquiring it almost 5 to 6 times a year. With so many people sneezing and coughing around it becomes impossible to keep her shielded all the time.
As far as the treatment of a viral infection is concerned I have always believed in minimal use of antibiotics or allopathic form of medication for my child. Apart from using a paracetamol to bring down the fever I seldom give her any cough syrups, antibiotics or anti allergic medicines. These medicines are known to have side effects which lower a child’s immunity and their use is only advised when a fever is not getting subsided even after 5 days and symptoms related to a bacterial infection like pneumonia or typhoid are seen. For a normal viral infection accompanied with cough and cold I rely on these age old home which I am sharing here:
1. Homemade cough syrup: I prefer giving my child this homemade kaadha over allopathic cough syrups (made with chemicals) as it has ingredients which are herbal in nature and leave no toxins or side- effects in the body. It can be given to kids who are more than 1 year old. It is useful in treating a sore throat and when given to children who are experiencing non- stop cough bouts it gives relief. It is also helpful in treating old coughs which persist for a long time even after a viral infection is over.
Method: Take 2 cups of water in a pan and add 5 to 6 tulsi leaves, half a tea spoon crushed ginger, half a tea spoon turmeric powder, half a tea spoon carom (ajwain) seeds, 5 to 6 cloves, 3 to 4 pepper cones, a small piece of mulethi (an ayurvedic jadibooti known to relieve pain in throat), a small piece of giloy (an ayurvedic jadibooti known to relieve fever). Boil this mixture on simmer and let it reduce to half. When the concoction is warm add a little sendha namak (rock salt) to taste and the kaadha is ready to drink. If the child finds the taste bad you can add a tea spoon of honey or a small piece of jaggery to sweeten it a bit. This kaadha can be kept out of fridge for 6 hours and it is recommended that it should be given two or three times a day. Please ensure that you give it when it is a little warm. Also remember that honey can be given to kids who are above 1 year of age.
2. Garlic mustard oil: We all know that garlic has cold relieving properties and I remember that when I was a child, my aunt used to prepare and keep this oil filled in a bottle especially in winters. It can be used for infants too and is very effective in relieving cold and cough.
Method: Take around 3 cups of good quality mustard oil in a heavy bottom pan and start heating it on simmer. While the oil is heating add 10 to 12 garlic cloves which are pealed, 1 tbsp carom (ajwain) seeds and half a tbsp fenugreek (methi) seeds. Let the oil heat till all these spices burn. Once the oil is a bit cool sieve it and store it in a bottle. This oil can stay for one month on room temperature and gives relief when applied on a child’s chest, back and under the feet. Care should be taken that the oil should be warm when applied and after applying this oil the child should be covered properly. The child should not be exposed to air conditioner or even a fan for at least half an hour after application and it is best to use this oil before the child sleeps.
3. Fluid therapy: Fluid therapy is nothing but a method of pushing more warm liquids into a child’s diet that is down with cough and cold. It not only helps in thinning the mucus and coughing it out but also relieves throat pain. It gives adequate hydration and nutrition in a condition when breathing and swallowing solid food is difficult. This includes giving warm water with a pinch of turmeric and rock salt (sendha namak) almost 5 -6 times a day, giving chicken or vegetable soup with garlic and pepper, hot milk with turmeric (haldi waala doodh) and tea with lots of ginger and tulsi leaves. For kids under 2 years of age, daal ka paani (soup made with pulses) seasoned with a little homemade ghee and a dash of pepper and salt is very relieving
Besides these home remedies I am going to share a few more tips and tricks which have always helped me in treating my child.
1. Taking adequate rest during a viral infection usually helps in getting well faster. Try and ensure that your kid sleeps for almost 8 or 10 hours during this time and avoid strenuous activities like outdoor play.
2. Breathing moist air helps loosen mucus in the blocked nasal passages and helps in breathing, so giving steam, nasal drops in case of infants, and using humidifiers is widely recommended during severe cold and cough.
3. Elevating your child’s head while resting or sleeping is another technique which makes breathing more comfortable. This tip can be used for kids who are older than a year and an extra pillow or folded towel under the head might do the trick. Care should be taken that the position of both the pillows is such that the child’s neck doesn’t get strained.
4. Besides giving the kaadha, there is another instant remedy which I use for my child when she coughs continuously. I always keep crushed ginger handy at my home. 1 tsp honey mixed with few drops of ginger juice is very effective. If possible I also add some crushed tulsi leaves juice to it. Please note that honey should not be given to babies younger than 1 year.
So, these are a few home remedies and tips which I find very effective and useful for treating common cough and cold in my child. Every child is different and sometimes a remedy which works well for one child may not work for another kid. Also, before using any remedy please take care that your kid is not allergic to an ingredient used in it and you are following the correct way of doing it. It is always advisable to observe your kids symptoms and then only try a method. Trying all the remedies together is not advisable. In the end if you find that the child’s fever is continuing for more than a week, his or her condition is not improving and there are symptoms which indicate that it is not merely a normal cold and cough please consult a doctor.
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