The main focus of Accidentally Green is a healthy approach to life. And for readers who are parents, the health of your child is extremely important.
Sometimes, a parent’s misguided attempts at helping a child rebound from a sickness can do much more harm than good.
Not so long ago, doctors thought almost every sickness could be treated by antibiotics. (I am living proof of this approach to medicine. When I was young and sickly, my pediatrician prescribed antibiotics to treat every one of my dozens of ear infections – along with my multiple cases of strep throat, bronchitis, and pneumonia. As a result, I developed severe allergic reactions to several commonly-used antibiotics.) Doctors have discovered, though, that antibiotics do NOT cure viral infections. That means your child needs to suffer through every cold, flu, or minor ear infection on his or her own.
That’s right. There will be fevers, coughs, runny noses, and stuffy noses – and they’ll even linger for two to three weeks. But your son or daughter will have to get through that time with a little extra tender loving care from Mommy or Daddy. NO medications. And that includes both over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Even though it’s annoying, the running noses and coughing actually help get all the germs and mucous out of a child’s body.
When dealing with lingering colds, parents should try to remind themselves that they have an opportunity to develop patience. Let’s face it, though. When your child doesn’t feel right, coughs and sneezes all day, then wakes up all throughout the night crying for you – for three weeks straight – all you want is a little sleep and some quiet. Not a lesson in patience. Yet Colossians 3:12 reminds us of a better approach: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
When dealing with a sick child, make things easier on your child’s doctor and don’t ask for antibiotics. As long as you trust your child’s physician (check back this coming Wednesday to find advice on that topic), rest in the fact that he or she knows when it’s appropriate to prescribe antibiotics during a bacterial infection, and not a viral infection.
It’s important to limit your child’s exposure to antibiotics and their potential side effects – unless, of course, he or she truly is sick with a bacterial infection and needs them. Just like my example, giving an unnecessary antibiotic will create a resistance to antibiotics; the medicine’s effectiveness on bacteria and microbes will either be reduced or eliminated.
When mothers should stop playing ‘Dr. Mom’
Sometimes, even when a child isn’t sick with a cold or flu, parents give their sons and daughters a little too much over-the-counter medication. Because infants can’t tell their parents what they’re crying about, some mothers and fathers give their fussy babes acetaminophen or ibuprofen, just guessing that their child may be teething or getting sick.
I know I fell into this trap when I was a first-time parent. To relieve my baby’s screams – that I was convinced were caused by teething pains – I hoped a little pain relief would help. Most of the time, though, children are fussy because of a particular developmental stage and over-the-counter pain relievers are completely unnecessary. Even though the medications are mild enough to be considered over-the-counter drugs, giving more than the recommended dosage of acetaminophen can cause liver damage. 1
Other unnecessary drugs include cold and cough medications. Infants and young children shouldn’t take them at all – they’re simply not safe for children younger than 6 years old.
While we’re discussing age limits, know that children younger than 6 months old should never be given ibuprofen. And keep aspirin away from children and teenagers younger than 19 years old to prevent Reye’s syndrome, an uncommon illness that starts with vomiting and can end in seizures, coma, and death.
When your child actually needs medication, be sure to use a measuring device like a dose spoon or syringe to ensure the correct dosage. Using a soup spoon to give medicine isn’t accurate. 2
A few other important tips
- Never give a child an adult-strength medicine.
- Complete your child’s full course of medicine.
- Never give your child a prescription drug prescribed to someone else.
- Do not use your own judgment and give your child medicine from a previous sickness. Rely on your child’s doctor to prescribe a prescription medicine.
- Never give a child two or more medicines at the same time that include the same ingredients. Read the ingredient list – since they’re only human, physicians and pharmacists can make mistakes sometimes. Just make a quick check for your child’s safety.
- If you’re monitoring your child’s intake of artificial colors or sweeteners, study the ingredient lists on medicines. Many medications and teething gels contain colors and sweeteners; opt for the dye-free choices, if possible.
Since we should avoid turning to medications for many common colds, what homemade remedies work for your family?
1., 2. “Spoon Size Could Affect Your Health.” [online]. CBS The Early Show. Jan. 5, 2010.
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