It’s that time of year again—cold and flu season is in full swing. This year we have 3 major culprits to worry about: RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), COVID-19 and Influenza. As a parent, it can be difficult to know when your child’s cold or flu is serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. After all, you don’t want to overreact and take your child to the ER for a minor illness, but you also don’t want to wait too long and risk their health. So, when should you take your child to the hospital for a cold or flu? Read on to find out.
One of the most common symptoms of both colds and flu is fever. A fever itself is not necessarily cause for alarm, but it can be a useful indicator of how serious your child’s illness is. For example, fevers caused by potentially dangerous illnesses like meningitis or sepsis will usually be quite high—usually 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 celsius) or higher. In contrast, fevers caused by minor illnesses like the common cold will usually be lower—between 101 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3-38.9 celsius). Of course, every child is different, so if you’re ever unsure whether your child’s fever is cause for concern, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and give your healthcare provider a call.
Fever can be beneficial
Fever may actually be beneficial to a child as it is a natural response of the immune system that helps to fight infection. Fever increases the body’s temperature, which in turn helps to kill bacteria and viruses. It also causes the body to release more white blood cells, which helps to fight infection. In some cases, fever may even help to shorten the duration of an illness. For these reasons, it is important not to treat fever too aggressively and instead allow the body to work naturally to combat infection.
Coughing and Sneezing
Another common symptom of colds and flu is coughing and sneezing. These symptoms are usually nothing to worry about—they’re just your body’s natural response to trying to get rid of the virus. However, if your child is having difficulty breathing or their cough sounds particularly harsh or wet, this could be a sign of something more serious, like pneumonia. If you’re concerned about your child’s coughing or sneezing, it’s always best to consult with their doctor.
For minor cough and sore throat, there are many effective naturopathic options. Some of my favorites include: Elderberry syrup, honey, propolis, nin jiom herbal syrup, Ivy leaf and thyme based syrups. If a cough/sore throat is particularly bad at nighttime children’s Advil and or Benadryl can help with symptom relief; however, it is a good idea to consult your doctor prior to usage.
Body aches are another common symptom of both colds and flu. Usually, these aches are nothing to worry about and will go away on their own in a few days. However, if your child seems especially uncomfortable or if they’re having difficulty moving around due to pain, this could be a sign that they have something more serious like rheumatic fever. As always, if you’re concerned about your child’s health, it’s best to consult with their healthcare provider.
Cold and flu season can be tough for parents who want to do everything they can to keep their children healthy but don’t want to overreact every time they get a little sniffle. Hopefully this article has given you some guidance on when to take your child to the hospital for a cold or flu. Remember: if you’re ever unsure, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and give your pediatrician a call. They would be more than happy to help you figure out whether or not your child needs medical attention.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that affects infants and young children. Although RSV is usually mild, it can sometimes lead to more serious health problems, such as pneumonia. There is no specific cure for RSV, but there are several natural treatments that can help relieve symptoms and speed up recovery. Here are 7 natural treatments for RSV:
Honey has long been used as a natural remedy for coughs and other respiratory infections. A 2012 study found that honey was more effective than dextromethorphan, a common cough suppressant, in relieving cough symptoms. Honey can also help thin mucus and make it easier to cough up. For added effect choose Manuka honey. Manuka honey has added antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Give your child 1-2 teaspoons of honey at bedtime or as needed throughout the day. Do not give honey to infants under 12 months old.
2. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation is a simple and effective way to relieve congestion and coughing associated with RSV. The steam helps thin mucus and makes it easier to breathe. Fill a bowl with hot water and hold your child’s head over the bowl with a towel over their head to trap the steam. Inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes, 2-4 times per day.
Running a humidifier in your child’s room can also help relieve congestion by adding moisture to the air. Just be sure to clean the humidifier regularly to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.
4. Salt Water Gargle
Gargling with warm salt water can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the throat, which can make it easier to eat and drink. Mix 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and have your child gargle for 30 seconds 3-4 times per day. Spit the solution out after gargling. Another good option is a saline nasal spray from you local drug store. These products can be helpful in clearing out mucus and reducing inflammation from the upper respiratory tract.
Getting plenty of rest is crucial for helping your child recover from RSV or any other illness. Make sure your child gets plenty of fluids and take them out only when necessary so they can focus on getting better. If your child is having trouble sleeping due to congestion, an over the counter antihistamine or decongestant can be useful in the short-term. With these products you will have to be careful about age appropriate dosing so talk to your medical or naturopathic doctor first.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help shorten the duration of a viral infection. Vitamin C is a nutrient that is known to boost the immune system, and foods like oranges, grapefruits, and broccoli are high in this nutrient. Additionally, zinc is another mineral that is important for immunity and can be found in foods like seafood, beef, and pumpkin seeds. It is important to stay hydrated during a viral infection, so drink plenty of fluids like water, broth, and herbal teas.
7. Immune supporting supplements
There are many safe and effective immune supporting supplements for kids that can help shorten the duration of a viral infection. Some of the most popular and well-researched supplements include vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, elderberry syrup and probiotics.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps support the immune system. Zinc is also important for immune health, and probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help keep the gut healthy. For more information on these supplements and more check out my post on “5 natural ways to combat cold and flu season for kids”. All of these supplements can be safely given to kids to help them fight off a virus and recover more quickly. Consult with your naturopathic doctor for appropriate dosing.
RSV is a common virus that affects infants and young children, but there are several natural treatments that can help relieve symptoms and speed up recovery time. Some home remedies for RSV include honey, steam inhalation, salt water gargles, humidifiers, rest, diet and natural supplements. If you think your child may have RSV, be sure to contact their medical or naturopathic doctor right away so they can receive proper treatment.