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Paediatrician's favourite home remedies
[Image: 090818120328_kids-200.jpg]
While paediatricians are adept at handing out prescriptions for children’s fevers and sicknesses, they also have a host of home remedies they resort to for their own kids. Here we talked to a few to find out about their home treatments for a cold, diarrhoea and other common illnesses.

Common cold & sore throat
Having a cold is bad enough for an adult, and even worse for a child who is too young to blow his or her nose and can’t understand why he or she is experiencing so much discomfort.

Some doctors feel that little children should not be given anti- histamines, and stick to giving a dose of crocin and offering lots of water and juices instead. When his eight- year- old son gets a cold, Dr A. K Bhatnagar consultant paediatrician, Fortis Hospital bets on ginger, honey and vitamin C supplements. “ Also use saline drops for nose congestion. It’s difficult for kids to clean their nose the right way. Saline drops help dissolve the solid matter in the nasal passage and unblocks it. But use the commercially available ones because home preparations are not the same,” he advises.

For a sore throat too Dr Bhatnagar relies on honey. “ Honey soothes a sore throat.

Moreover, the child won’t say no to it since it is sweet in taste,” he says. Dr Vandana Kent, consultant paediatrician, Rockland Hospital, swears by saline water gargles.

“Saline gargles are the best treatment for a sore throat. But if the child is too small to gargle, just keep giving him or her warm water to drink,” she says. If the soreness doesn’t ease in a couple of days, doctors say parents should get a throat swab done to ensure that this is not due to Strep. While a ‘ viral’ sore throat will subside by itself, a diagnosis of strep may require a course of antibiotics.

Keeping a child well hydrated when he or she has a cold, cough or both also speeds up the recovery process. Chicken soup is still considered a anti- dote for a cold.

High fever
Apart from giving a paediatric formula of acetaminophen or ibuprofen, doctors also advise parents caring for a child with high fever to ensure that he or she has plenty of fluids. Dr Kent believes high fever can be brought down with a sponge bath. “Use normal tap water and wipe the child with a towel soaked in this. Keep wringing out the towel in the cool water and apply for at least 5-10 minutes till the body temperature drops,” she says. Dr Bhatnagar agrees.

“People have a misconception that ice cold water should be used. With ice cold water, the temperature would drop fast er but also rise rapidly. So used tap water for a sustained effect,” he says. High fever usually resolves itself but if it does not come down within a reasonable time frame, it may be a sign of a serious infection that needs diagnosis and allopathic medication to resolve.

Diarrhoea & vomiting
Most paediatricians feel that it’s best that children don’t suppress an occasional bout of diarrhoea or vomiting and letting it run its own course is the most sensible way of dealing with it. It’s also best to avoid pushing food at the child until the queasiness stops. Dr Kent recommends putting an orange or a lemon in child’s pocket to quell the nausea.

“Just smelling an orange or lemon an prevent nausea or the desire to throw up,” she says.

Since vomiting can also lead to dehydration, it’s a good idea to prepare lemonade for your child or even administer a dose of oral rehydration salts ( ORS).

Dr Bhatnagar, on the other hand, believes probiotic food items like buttermilk and yoghurt should be given once the vomiting has settled, as these help restore the stomach to its healthy state. “ These foods soothe the gastrointestinal lining and neutralise acid production,” he adds.

Giving a child over a year old sugary and starchy foods to eat is also believed to be a good move, say paediatricians, since these are easily digested. Jelly or dry cereal are two good food choices, and clear liquids like 7 up and Sprite are also advised.

Placing a sunburned child in a cool bath is the first step to be taken if your child comes in hot and flushed from a day outdoors.

Using an antiseptic cream like Noxzema is advised to stop the itching and pain. Dr Kent relies on lacto calamine to soothe the skin affected by sunburn, and says that parents should take precautions to ensure their kids are safe from the harsh rays of the sun. “ To prevent sunburn, apply a sunscreen of SPF 15 on your child’s face and body before you take him out of the house. Normal talcum powder can also be used to prevent sunburn,” she says. Tea bags are also used by some for sunburn relief. Let the bags steep in boiled water for five minutes.

Then, after they cool, remove from the water and apply the wet bags to the skin.

Ear ache
Dr Bhatnagar recommends using any oil if it’s an infection or a blocked ear due to wax.

“People generally use warm oil, but I prefer oil at room temperature since there seem to be no apparent benefits of warm oil,” he says.

Others recommend the use of a hot water bottle or warm towel to ease the pain.

If the earache doesn’t go away within a few hours, however, an inner ear examination may be necessary to ascertain whether there is an infection serious enough to merit a course of antibiotics.

Diaper rash
Paediatricians say that many diaper rashes are caused by irritation from urine. So keeping the baby out of her diaper and exposing the irritated skin to open air as much as possible is the best way to clear up the rash. Soaps may also be to blame, so avoid using soap on irritated skin. Many such rashes are yeast based infections ( often indicated by rough red dry skin with raised bumps), which can be cured by using an antifungal cream. A parent should also take care to change the diaper every four hours. “ Sometimes you can overlook a wet diaper and it dries itself. The skin can also get very sweaty inside the diaper.

Just wipe the child dry and you can also apply vaseline in the perineal region,” says Dr Kent.

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