Parents the world over, whether working or stay-at-home, would unanimously agree that the health and well-being of their children figures at the top of their priority list. Moreover, society has a stake in ensuring their healthy growth and development as well because the future rests entirely on their young shoulders.
The early years of a child’s life are especially marred by frequent bouts of minor illnesses and infections. An underdeveloped immune system makes it easier for your young one to catch the occasional bug than older children and adults.
Both newborns and school-going children are easy targets for a wide array of disease-causing pathogens and tend to fall sick several times a year. Once your child comes down with a contagious illness, he/she is likely to spread the bug around to other kids he plays, interacts, or lives with.
This, however, does not imply that you should resort to strong and harsh mainstream medicines every time your child shows the slightest sign of discomfort. Excessive dependence on over-the-counter drugs, steroids, and antibiotics is counterproductive for building the body’s immune response, more so in the case of children.
Pumping your child’s system with steroids can lead to an increase in hyperactivity, and cough syrups can cause severe respiratory issues. Similarly, antibiotic excesses tend to make bacteria more resistant to the drugs over time.
Conventional and Adjunctive Treatments: Best of Both
Rather than feeding your child drugs that work only to mask the problem while engendering potentially long-term and detrimental side effects, you should look for alternative ways to provide natural and holistic healing from within.
There’s a whole list of readily available ingredients that can give your kid’s immunity a push and remedy a number of common health issues.
One should not take this to mean that parents must swear off conventional drugs. The use of stronger drugs is not to be discredited as a whole. The idea is to minimize the medicinal load on your child’s developing body as safely as possible.
Certain ailments are too severe or advanced that they lie beyond the purview of alternative or complementary medicine. When faced with such situations, it would be a gross misjudgment to rely on these complementary ingredients to take care of the problem.
Whatever the malady, however severe or mild it might seem, the first step towards ensuring your child’s recovery is to consult your pediatrician. Taking your child’s health entirely in your hands without any concern for possible complications is a risk no parent can afford.
Hence, keep your options open, but do enlist your doctor’s professional advice to make sure that you are on the right track.
Common Health Issues with Children
The most common children’s health issues include:
- Common cold
- Diaper Rashes
- Ear infections
- Cold sores
- Skin Rashes
- Parasitic infections
The common causes are germs, bacteria, and viruses, which are naturally present in our environment.
Because a child’s immune system is weak, children get sick more often than adults when exposed to these harmful agents.
As children get older, their immune systems develop and they gradually acquire the immunity to fight off many common infections that are otherwise a threat during their initial years.
Tips to Prevent Your Child from Acquiring Common Health Issues
Instead of worrying, parents should work to boost their child’s immunity and seek the active involvement and cooperation of their childcare provider.
To boost your child’s immune system:
- Feed your child a well-rounded diet replete with a whole spectrum of nutrients that he/she requires to grow.
- Make sure your child gets enough sleep at night and proper rest during the day.
- Keep your child active by incorporating a daily dose of physical activity in his schedule.
- Ensure your child’s safety and give him/her a healthy environment to thrive, both mentally and physically.
- Make sure that your child washes his/her hands frequently.
Some of the tips that parents should follow to keep their children in the pink of health are:
1. Ensure that your child is not behind his recommended vaccine schedule
Consult with your pediatrician to stay abreast of any upcoming immunization dose that your child may require. Typically, a baby goes through the immunization rounds at the ages of 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months.
This preventive measure not only keeps your child safe from potentially fatal diseases such as measles and diphtheria, but it is also essential for staving off an outbreak in the community at large.
2. Never administer an unprescribed medication to your child
Medicines that might seem safe and even beneficial for adults might not agree with your child’s fragile systems. It’s, therefore, highly ill-advised to feed your child a common household medicine of your own accord. Always check with your pediatrician if a particular drug is suitable for your kid.
Moreover, you should also adhere to the dosage stipulated by the doctor or follow the instruction strip that comes with the packaging. Even in the case of herbal treatments, certain ingredients might be dangerous for your kid’s health and must be cleared by the pediatrician before use.
3. Make sure that your child breathes in fresh and clean air
It is crucial to ensure a smoke-free breathing environment for your child to keep his/her respiratory system fighting fit. You can minimize your baby’s exposure to secondhand smoke by making your home a cigarette-free zone.
If you are a smoker, a good way to start is to kick the habit yourself. Moreover, ask other family members and visitors to smoke outside the house, if at all. Another critical measure in this regard is to refrain from using chemical household sprays, such as insect repellent and cleaning products, when your child is in the room.
4. Hygiene is the most important pace
Hygiene is the paramount and most indispensable step for warding off illnesses and ensuring your own health as well as the health of people around you. In the same vein, it is every parent’s duty to teach their kids by example about personal cleanliness and sanitary practices.
As children are at an impressionable age, they pick up on these habits quite naturally and imbibe them for the rest of their lives. Parents can set the example early by teaching their children to practice frequent hand washing, especially after using the bathroom and playing outside as well as before and after eating.
They should also frequently wash toys, bedding, clothes, and other personal things that their children use.
5. Maintain your child’s dental health
Keep your child’s oral health at the optimal level by brushing his/her teeth first thing in the morning and the last thing before retiring for bed.
Children below the age of 18 months have an exceptionally sensitive and delicate oral cavity, its best to use a gentle bristled brush that’s soaked in water to scoop out any gunk that might be stuck. Consult your dentist about the right time to advance to a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste, once your child crosses 18 months.
6. Protect your child from undue sun exposure
Make your child wear protective clothing or slather some gentle sunscreen on his/her skin, whenever venturing out in the sun.
When to See a Doctor
Even the most observant and proactive parents can fail to pick up on some seemingly harmless issue that might be hampering their child’s health. For instance, mild viral or bacterial infections are often disregarded as a common occurrence. However, in the absence of timely and appropriate treatment, they can spiral into a more severe condition that can take a significant toll on your kid’s well-being.
Despite all your good intentions and efforts to ensure your child’s health, it is essential for every parent to keep their pediatrician in the loop. Only a medical professional can discern if a particular treatment is suitable for your child’s condition, after taking into account his/her medical history, age, and symptoms.
If you suspect that your child’s symptoms are getting progressively worse or if he/she is displaying additional symptoms overtime, a visit to the doctor is warranted. Also, if the condition shows no signs of improvement even after a few days of prescribed treatment, take your child to the pediatrician without delay.
Tips and Remedies to Treat Health Issues in Children
Nobody wants to see their child suffer through an illness helplessly. While the doctor’s advice and treatment remain an irreplaceable and top priority, most parents still itch to make themselves useful and contribute to their child’s recovery process in some way or the other.
In this case, you can rely on some all-natural home remedies to help your child get through his/her occasional tummy troubles, common cold episodes, and the likes, without worrying about potential side effects. What’s more is that these healing techniques optimize the therapeutic value of readily available ingredients that cost next to nothing to help your child recuperate faster and better.
These remedies have registered time-tested success and can work on their own or as adjunctive aids to mainstream medicine.
Here are some natural health remedies to deal with children’s health issues.
1. Honey for Common Cold
The common cold is caused by different types of viruses. Symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, sore throat, itchy eyes, mild body aches, and a general feeling of illness.
For children suffering from the common cold, raw honey is an excellent remedy due to its antimicrobial properties. It helps reduce nighttime coughing and induce sound sleep, which is a blessing for a child grappling with the discomforts of the common cold.(1)(2)
- Mix 2 teaspoons of raw honey and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
- Give the mixture to your child three or four times a day for a few days.
- In the case of fever, do not forget to give your child a sponge bath to help reduce body temperature.
- Also, give your child homemade chicken soup to boost immunity.
2. Ginger for Asthma
Asthma in children is steadily increasing. It is a lung disease with typical symptoms being wheezing, coughing, tightness around the chest, and shortness of breath. The condition can be triggered by allergies, air pollution, respiratory infections, and a humid climate.(3)(4)
Ginger is a time-honored natural treatment for asthma. Its anti-inflammatory property helps reduce airway inflammation and inhibit airway contraction, thereby helping your distressed child breathe easily.
- Mix equal amounts of ginger juice, pomegranate juice, and honey. Give your child 1 tablespoon of this mixture three times a day.
- You can also give your child ginger candies. Ginger candies can also help ease the symptoms, though it should be given to children under 3 due to choking hazard.
3. Olive Oil can Help Ease Earaches
Earaches in children can be extremely discomforting. The pain can be sharp or dull and can come in waves or persist continually.
The best treatment for earaches is olive oil, which works as a lubricant and helps get rid of the pain.
- Put 3 or 4 drops of lukewarm olive oil into your child’s ear canal. The oil will cause the wax to soften, which can then be removed by seeking the help of an expert.
- Applying a warm washcloth around the affected ear can also help relieve pain.
4. Fennel can Relieve Stomachache
Almost all children suffer from stomachaches at one time or another. They can be due to constipation, indigestion, gas, acid reflux, stomach flu, food poisoning, overeating, colic, and swallowing air.(6)
Fennel seeds are a good way to help relieve stomach pain in children due to gas or indigestion.
- Add 1 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds to 1 cup of hot water and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, add a little honey and have your child drink it slowly two times a day.
- You can also give your child a small number of roasted fennel seeds to chew after a meal.
Also, give your child warm water to drink at regular intervals when he/she is experiencing a stomachache. This will help expel gas and also prevent constipation.
5. Treat Cough with Turmeric
Coughing is one of the most common health problems in children. Coughing is a response to a blockage or irritant in the throat or upper respiratory passages.
It can be due to a viral infection, the common cold, flu, and other health problems such as asthma. It is often accompanied by an itchy throat, chest pain, and congestion.
- Mix a ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder in 1 glass of warm milk and give this mixture to your child to drink twice daily.
- For a dry cough, mix a ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1 teaspoon of honey and give this mixture to your child three times a day.
Drinking warm lemonade can also help treat coughs in children.
6. Cure Diarrhea with Bananas
Diarrhea is loose and watery stools that often occurs with abdominal pain. It is the body’s way of ridding itself of germs and can last from a few days to a week. Your child’s diarrhea might stem from some infection, consumption of contaminated food or water, or food poisoning.
- One way to provide relief to a child who has got the runs is to feed him/her unripe green banana, typically eaten with white rice as brown rice is difficult to digest.(9) The high pectin content of bananas is what works to rein in the incontinence to some degree. Pectin is a water-soluble fiber that acts as a gelling agent and helps soak in the intestinal fluids.
- Bananas are also high in potassium that helps replace electrolytes that may be lost during diarrhea. If your child does not like bananas, make a smoothie with yogurt and banana instead.
- You can also give your child bland foods such as boiled potatoes, rice water, and clear broths.
7. Heal Skin Rashes Using Aloe Vera
Rashes on the skin is another common concern of parents of small children. Skin rashes cause redness, itchiness, and, at times, pain and inflammation. These rashes can be caused by allergies, insect bites, mites, excessive sweating, or contact with certain poisonous plants such as poison ivy or oak.
The soothing and calming properties of aloe vera help treat skin rashes in children.(10)
- Apply some fresh aloe vera gel on the affected area.
- Wait for 20 minutes, and then rinse it off with cool water. Repeat this remedy a few times daily.
You can also rub some extra-virgin olive oil on the rash a few times daily.
Applying a cold compress on the affected area can help ease itching, swelling, and inflammation. However, do not put ice cubes directly on the skin as it can aggravate your child’s sensitive skin and might even lead to frostbite.
8. Treat Minor Wounds with Coconut Oil
Children often suffer from minor wounds while playing around in the park or at home. When the outer skin layer becomes torn or punctured, it can produce symptoms including bleeding, redness, swelling, inflammation, pain, and tenderness.(11)(12)
- To treat a wound, you need to clean it first thoroughly.
- Put the affected area under clean running water to get rid of any dirt, dust, and other particles.
- Wash it with mild antiseptic soap and pat it dry.
- To facilitate healing, apply extra-virgin coconut oil to the wounded area and cover it with a bandage.
- Repeat this remedy two or three times a day for a few days.
The antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and moisturizing properties of coconut oil will promote healing and prevent infection.
- Make sure your toddler does not put his or her hands in their mouth or touch his/her face too much.
- Monitor your children’s activities to ensure that they are practicing good hygiene.
- Keep your home clean and free of dust and clutter.
- Make sure the plates and cups your child is using are clean and that the food he/she eats is prepared hygienically.
- Give your child clean water to drink at regular intervals.
- When your child is sick, make him rest to speed up recovery.
- Do not allow a sick child to play with other children, as this will put other children at risk.
- Take your child for regular checkups to be sure he is meeting developmental goals appropriate for his age.
- Goldman RD. Honey for treatment of a cough in children. Canadian Family Physician. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4264806/. Published December 2014.
- Ashkin E, Mounsey A. A spoonful of honey helps a coughing child sleep. The Journal of Family Practice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601686/. Published March 2013.
- Townsend EA, Siviski ME, Zhang Y. Effects of Ginger and Its Constituents on Airway Smooth Muscle Relaxation and Calcium Regulation. American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3604064/. Published February 2013.
- Shabbir A, Imran M, Shahzad M. Zingiber officinale ameliorates allergic asthma via suppression of Th2-mediated immune response. Pharmaceutical Biology. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/13880209.2014.920396. Published September 18, 2013.
- Haggerton JB. Ear Infections in Kids: Natural Remedies to Ease Ear Pain and Enhance Function. pathways to family wellness. http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/Holistic-Healthcare/ear-infections-in-kids-natural-remedies-to-ease-ear-pain-and-enhance-function.html. Published 2015.
- Badgujar SB, Patel VV, Bandivdekar AH. Foeniculum vulgare Mill: A Review of Its Botany, Phytochemistry, Pharmacology, Contemporary Application, and Toxicology. BioMed Research International. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137549/. Published August 3, 2014.
- Krup V, L HP, A H. Journal of Traditional Medicine & Clinical Naturopathy ISSN: 2573-4555 Journal of Traditional Medicine & Clinical Naturopathy. Journal of Traditional Medicine & Clinical Naturopathy. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/pharmacological-activities-of-turmeric-curcuma-longa-linn-a-review-2167-1206.1000133.php?aid=18775. Published September 12, 2013.
- Prasad S, Aggarwal BB. Turmeric, the Golden Spice. Current neurology and neuroscience reports. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/.
- Rabbani GH, Larson CP, Islam R, Saha UR, Kabir A. Green banana‐supplemented diet in the home management of acute and prolonged diarrhea in children: a community‐based trial in rural Bangladesh. Tropical Medicine & International Health. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-3156.2010.02608.x. Published August 4, 2010.
- Mali R, Pattan SRR, Patil RY. and Scope Of Development Of Aloe vera As Remedy medicine For Skin Diseases. Pharmacologyonline. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267206663. Published 2011.
- Ibrahim S, Syafrizayanti S. Beneficial Effect of Application of Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) Product from Padang West Sumatra, Indonesia on Palatoplasty Wound Healing. American Scientific Research Journal for Engineering, Technology, and Sciences (ASRJETS). http://asrjetsjournal.org/index.php/American_Scientific_Journal/article/view/3235. Published 2017.
- Nevin KG, Rajamohan T. Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20523108. Published 2010.