Mama Stuff Wellness

Fighting Colds and Flu

It is the season of runny noses and feverish children.  No matter how hard you try, the odds are stacked firmly in favour of colds and flu.  If your children are in a creche or play school your chances of having a little with the cold or flu increases as they are in constant contact with other children.

Knowledge is power in the quest to become pro-active in the health of your children.  We spoke to Prof. Pieter Fourie Pediatrician, Dr Megan Jones Homeopath and Dr Nicole Evans also a Homeopath, to shed some light on the common cold and flu.

✚  Contact – Dr Megan Jones

✚  Contact – Dr Nicole Evans

BLOCKED NOSE

Prof. Pieter Fourie – Pediatrician

1.  Could be due to swelling of the soft tissue ( either a viral infection or allergy ). Just keep in mind, if its only one nostril, then it might be a foreign object that your child has pushed up. Generally one should apply a salt nasal spray ( either 0.9%, or even higher) to keep the tissue moist and allow the water to pass from the tissue to the nose cavity (osmotic gradient). In an acute case, one could also apply an age appropriate nasal decongestant, just to allow your child to breath freely through his/her nose. Ask your pharmacist regarding these options.

2.  Could be due to secretions that have dried out, or even bacterial contaminated secretions. Regular application of a salt solution with or without a local anti-biotic should in most cases be effective.

Dr Megan Jones – Homeopath

Homeopathy offers safe and effective treatment for all the winter sniffles, colds and flu that you may be faced with as a family. At its root, homeopathy is most effective when remedies are individually prescribed for your child’s unique symptoms by a qualified homeopath, but one can at times get away with using an over-the-counter homeopathic combination if you cannot get to your homeopath. Homeopathy is a great choice, especially for children and infants, as the remedies act by stimulating the body to correct the disease, making the system stronger in the long run.  

Euphorbium nasal spray is an effective spray to treat blocked and runny noses. Make sure that there is not an underlying intolerance that is causing the nasal symptoms or cough, such as dairy, wheat, dust or pollens.

RUNNY NOSE

Prof. Pieter Fourie – Pediatrician

If you look at the animal kingdom, we were actually designed to have our noses running in order to keep it moist. But of course, in our modern society, this is rather taboo and therefore one would opt for a decongestant ( oral or nasal ) for a short period of time ( 5 to 7 days maximum) and thereafter rely on an oral antihistamine  to maintain nasal patency.

Dr Megan Jones – Homeopath

Euphorbium (see above)

COUGH

Prof. Pieter Fourie – Pediatrician

1.  Coughing is a normal mechanism whereby our bodies tries to rid itself of unwanted waste material in the airways. However, if it is excessive, it could lead to a number of problems such as sleep deprivation, local chest pain, vomiting if the coughing is severe and poor concentration. One would always try to loosen the plegm by administering a “thinning” agent such a acetylcysteine or bromhexidine. One can also nebulize with a salt solution that can include one of the above.

2.  In cases of severe coughing, it might be important to suppress the coughing in order to allow your child to sleep. Pholcodine has no morphine like side-effects and is not habit forming.

3.  Coughing can also be as a result of airway spasm as one would find in asthma. A cough mixture containing a bronchodilator such as terbutaline will lead to a rapid relief. Nebulising with a bronchodilator such as salbutamol is highly effective and usually used under conditions of acute bronchospasm.

Dr Megan Jones – Homeopath

Once again, make sure there is not an obstacle to cure, such as a food intolerance.  There are wonderful, herbal and homeopathic cough syrups widely available. Coughs can be quite stubborn and tend to linger after an infection, so an individually prescribed remedy works best here.

FEVER

Prof. Pieter Fourie – Pediatrician

1.  Fever is a response of the body to the invasion of an infective agent such as viruses and bacteria ( one must just bear in mind that inflammation due to certain diseases such as arthritis can also lead to a fever, although no infective agent can be detected ). Although not dangerous, fevers can lead to situations that are debilitating, such as fever convulsions, loss of appetite, vomiting and increased metabolism with weight loss.

2.  Low grade fevers 38 to 39 Celsius are usually managed with paracetamol, either orally or rectally. Fevers higher than 39.1 Celsius, should be managed more aggressively as they are often associated with localized inflammation and one would then resort to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as mefenamic acid or ibuprofen.

3.  Usually fevers should respond to the medication withing 30 to 45 minutes and the temperature should stay down for up to 6 hours or more, indicating that the infection is more likely to be of viral origin. Should the fevers return every 3 to 4 hours, especially if it is associated with general malaise and loss of appetite, this would then rather point towards a bacterial infection often requiring an antibiotic.

Dr Megan Jones – Homeopath

Homeopathy offers remedies that can quickly bring fevers down. Remember that producing a fever is part of the body’s defence to kill off unwanted pathogens. That being said,  don’t allow the fever to rise to a level that is dangerous for your child. A feverish child is often an unhappy, niggly child, so homeopathic treatment offers relief without completely suppressing the body’s attempts.  

Common Remedies - Dr Nicole Evans - Homeopath

ACONITE: This is often the first remedy used to treat a cold, cough or fever that has come about after exposure to a dry cold wind. The cough is usually dry, croupy type cough and the fever is high. Also good for sore throats.

BELLADONNA: This remedy is also excellent for sudden high fevers where the baby’s face is bright red and skin very hot to the touch. Good for earache and sore throats and dry barking cough.

FERRUM PHOS: used for common cold with fevers not above 38.5. helpful for sneezing and streaming noses, general inflammation of the upper respiratory tract with dry cough and sore throat and ears.

GELSEMIUM: best remedy for influenza with high fever, sore throat, droopy and glassy eyes, and very lethargic sore body normally associated with the flu.

NUX VOMICA: this is an excellent remedy for babies with blocked noses that sneeze a lot.

PULSATILLA: one of the best remedies for loose phlegmy coughs in babies who are clingy and irritable and have gone off their milk while sick. Often have yellow-green running noses.

PREVENTION

Prof. Pieter Fourie – Pediatrician

Although the market is almost saturated with so called immune boosting and anti-viral remedies, it is questionable whether these products really are as effective as they claim. Thus, the approach should be to maintain a healthy diet and to minimize the viremic symptoms as far as possible. Fever should be managed, fluid intake optimized and bedrest advocated. Any serious problems such as vomiting, diarrhoea, severe shortness of breath should also be managed aggressively until an improvement is noted. If the response to conservative management is unsatisfactory, then one should consider that the underlying viremia is caused by an influenza type virus which should respond to an anti-viral agent; oseltamivir. Secondary bacterial infections can prevent the child from responding to the management program effectively and therefore antibiotics must me commenced as soon as possible should the need arise.

Dr Megan Jones – Homeopath

Homeopathic remedies are able to stimulate the body’s defence mechanisms, so offer a great solution to prepare little bodies for winter colds and flu. Most homeopathic practitioners have a cold and flu remedy that they offer their patients leading up to winter for this purpose. Over-the-counter options include Oscillococcinum, or Pegausus Immune Defence. I also recommend a good multivitamin and immune booster, such as Medford’s Junior Script Immune, especially if your child is at crèche.

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