A mother's biggest challenge is knowing what to do when illness strikes

Dr mom to the rescue! Especially at this time of year when sniffles and sneezes reign supreme and you’re regularly dealing with coughs and colds.

“This is the season when ‘creche syndrome’ tends to run riot,” explains Integrated Health Practitioner Dr Erika Coertzen.

“Because children and toddlers spend so much time together and often rub their noses, eyes or mouths, and then touch a friend with the ‘snotty’ hands, transmission of pathogens (germs) in the mucus is enhanced.

6 respiratory infections a year

"Mucus is simply an inflammatory response that occurs when viruses come into contact with the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. The virus gets passed from child to child and, unfortunately, back again which is why you feel like you’re endlessly dealing with an ailing child.”

Read: Cold or flu?

The bad news is that the average healthy child will have about 6 respiratory tract infections a year. Colds are the most common illness amongst children of all ages, and although their duration is short about 5-10 days the symptoms: runny nose, congestion of the nose and sinuses, a sore throat, croup and cough, can make them feel quite miserable.

And here’s the problem. Since 90% of all infections are caused by viruses, antibiotics are of no use unless a secondary bacterial infection kicks in, leading to more serious illnesses such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia, which more than likely will require antibiotics for treatment.

If antibiotics are prescribed, do ask the prescribing doctor if they’re really necessary, advises Dr Coertzen, as the inappropriate use of antibiotics has serious side effects, suppressing the immune system and resulting in the rise of "superbugs".

Supporting and stimulating the immune system is the best thing you can do for your child, which is where homeopathy is such an invaluable tool: babies and toddlers treated with homeopathic remedies and supportive therapies become healthy kids because their immune systems are empowered to protect them from pathogens.

The good news is that most upper respiratory tract infections can be successfully treated at home without a visit to the GP – hello Dr Mom! Homeopathic remedies are the perfect way to go here, as they support your child’s all-important immune system while activating a healing response.

That’s why a combination remedy such as Stodal syrup from BOIRON should occupy an important spot in your winter medicine arsenal.

Thick, sticky mucus

It contains a combination of homeopathic ingredients that makes it safe to use for all types of coughs and colds. Stodal has no side-effects or interaction with other medication and can be given to babies and children of all ages.

One of Stodal’s ingredients, Kali Bich, a natural remedy for thick, sticky mucous in the throat, nose, chest, sinus etc., is particularly helpful when it comes to colds, says Dr Coertzen. This is because babies and toddlers' bronchi are smaller than adults’, so drainage of the mucous is of even greater importance.

“Avoid anything that offers to ‘dry up’ mucus,” she advises, “This will end up making the mucus far stickier, resulting in more serious infections such as sinusitis, bronchiolitis and bronchopneumonia.”

And don’t run scared of fever it’s an immune response to fight infection, so there’s really no need to "break" it. Instead make sure your child remains comfortable and well hydrated while the immune system response does its work, and only use fever medication if the fever causes lethargy, or if there’s a history of fever convulsions.

Always trust your gut and let Dr Mom take control unless your child gets rapidly sicker,  becomes unresponsive or "floppy", develops a sudden high fever, or shows signs of dehydration or respiratory distress – which is when you’ll need immediate professional help.

Read more:

In bed with a cold?

Could vitamin C therapy cure a cold?

Siblings now main source of infants' whooping cough

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
32% - 9430 votes
68% - 19929 votes