Raising Healthy Kids: Tips on keeping colds away

PHILADELPHIA - October 30, 2013

Naomi Wicentowski doesn't need a calendar to know what season it is, when her daughter Emma starts to cough, she knows a cold is coming.

She gives Emma an inhaler to keep it from getting worse.

Naomi says Emma would develop a really intense bad cough.

Dr. David Pollack from Children's Hospital Care Network in Delaware County, says most colds and respiratory virus are not a big concern.

"Nasal congestion in itself is not a serious concern," says Dr. Pollack.

However, in Emma's case a bad cough, along with her sister's ear ache is worth checking out the symptoms.

Dr. Pollack says parents need to watch, how long the symptoms have been around.

"There is a big difference between nasal congestion and a cough that's been there one day versus four or five days," he notes.

Parents should pay attention if the virus is disrupting your child's sleep or if your child is cranky or lethargic.

Dr. Pollack says there's been some thinking that antibiotics shouldn't be given for ear infections, and doctors and parents should wait for them to clear up on their own.

But he says, "That's a hard thing to do when a child is up at night, they're very irritable, or they're in a lot of pain."

"We're looking for a way to clear the ear infection sooner," he adds.

Pollack says your child should not be given cold medicines, especially kids under the age of 2. The side effects can outweigh any benefit in comfort. Instead, make sure they're comfortable with old-fashioned home remedies.

Naomi Wicentowski has her favorites, "A teaspoon of honey goes along way."

But, doctors say, don't give it to children under the age of 1, because it could contain a bacteria which causes infant botulism.

Wicentowski has other tips: " I used to prop them up so they were sitting up while they slept . I use a humidifier in winter to make the air around them moist.

And she says hot tea also helps ease her daughters' discomfort.

Pollack says it's okay to give your children Tylenol and make sure you keep up on immunizations, especially the flu vaccine helps.

"There is some evidence that the flu vaccine has minimized other illnesses such as colds and ear infections,"says Pollack.

A new report says, even healthy kids can get dangerous flu complications.

There is still time to get the flu shot or flu mist and it could make a big difference in keeping your kids healthy this winter.

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