Colds, flu and ear infections are some of the common reasons parents bring their children in to see their doctors. The best approach to a cold or flu is to prevent it in the first place. Teach your children that regular hand washing, good nutrition, and restful sleeps are all important factors in maintaining a healthy immune system and warding off cold and flu viruses.
If all the precautions have taken place and your little one still has come down with something, you can try a natural approach to colds, flu and ear infections. Here are some tips to get them back on the road to health.
Probiotics and vitamin D. Both probiotics and vitamin D have the ability to regulate immune functions and, when taken consistently, have been shown to decrease the frequency of upper respiratory tract infections.
Echinacea, zinc and vitamin C. If your child catches a cold, start echinacea, zinc and vitamin C right at the onset of symptoms. The root of Echinacea purpurea may help lessen symptom severity, while zinc and vitamin C may help shorten the duration of illness.
Black elderberry. Black elderberry may also help reduce cold duration and symptom severity, but is better known for its flu-fighting capabilities.
When to take your little one in to see a doctor for a cold or flu:
• Difficulty breathing
• Difficulty keeping food or fluids down
• Difficulty swallowing
• Fever higher than 100 F, lasting more than 3 days
• Cough or nasal congestion that doesn’t improve, or worsens over the course of 14 days.
Ear infections, also called acute otitis media (AOM), are often secondary to an upper respiratory infection. So, to prevent ear infections, follow the guidelines for cold and flu management. AOM can be viral or bacterial in nature, and mild cases often resolve without antibiotics with time, patience, and the appropriate supportive therapies.
Garlic and mullein. The classic supportive herbal remedy for ear infections is garlic mullein ear oil. Garlic is both antibacterial and antiviral in nature, while mullein is a natural analgesic and helps to soothe ear pain.
Do not put anything in the ear if the eardrum is ruptured or if there’s drainage from the ear. In cases where ear pain does not resolve or improve in 48 hours, antibiotics may be needed.
When to take your little one in to see the doctor for earaches:
• Ear pain lasting longer than 48 hours
• Fever of 102 F or higher
• Rapid onset of symptoms
• Severe ear pain
• Drainage from the ear.
Photo from here, with thanks.