Head cold is triggered by an infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is also referred to as common cold. Head cold in children is a common occurrence particularly during winter months. It may not be a serious health problem but it causes a lot of discomfort to them. This is because phlegm build up takes place inside the respiratory tract due to the infection which block their nose, throat and ears. This gives a heavy feeling in the head. Other annoying symptoms that are observed are stuffy nose, persistent cough, chest congestion, watery eyes, fever, fatigue, etc.
Since head cold is caused by a virus, it cannot be treated with antibiotics. The immune system will fight off the virus causing the infection on its own within a week or two and the mucus production and the symptoms will subside. Till then, a few home remedies can be used to minimize the intensity of these symptoms. They are as follows:
Use Saline Nasal Drops
These nasal sprays are highly effective for clearing up the stuffy nose. Let me tell you these are not the nasal decongestant sprays that tend to dry up the nasal passage and can be used only for 2-3 days. These drops are safe for your children as they do not contain any harsh chemicals. It only contains salt and sterile water. Pour one or two drops of this spray into each nostril to get rid of the mucus. You can repeat the application as and when required.
Give Enough Fluids
Your child is losing a lot of fluids in the form of nasal discharge. To prevent dehydration, you have to provide them with adequate amount of fluids. It will also help to flush out harmful toxins from the body. Besides water, you can also serve fruit juices, chicken soup, herbal tea, etc. Fruit juices are a rich source of vitamin C that can make their immune system strong. Chicken soup on the other hand, has mucus thinning components that can moisten it and clear up the congestion. However, hot caffeinated beverages should be avoided as they contribute towards dehydration of the body.
Inhalation of Steam
We adults know it very well that steam inhalation is one of the best home remedies for head cold that brings a lot of relief from the congested feelings. However, the problem is that the kids are unable to inhale steam from a bowl of hot water like you and me. So, put on the hot shower in the closed bathroom and let your child spend 10-15 minutes inside the steamy bathroom and inhale the hot air. It should be repeated two times in a day until you see some improvement in symptoms of head congestion.
Warm Moist Compression
Children often feel pain and tenderness in the areas where sinus cavities of the face are located, that includes the area surrounding the eyes, nose, cheek and upper jaw due to mucus build up in these areas. Warm compression in these areas can bring some comfort. Take some warm water in a bowl, soak a soft, clean cloth in it and then squeeze out the excess water from it. Now, place this warm cloth on those areas which are tender to touch. This will make them feel better.
Feed them Lemon and Honey
When a persistent cough due to a head cold is bothering your kid, offer them a mixture of honey and lemon. Take equal quantities of honey and lemon and mix them well and give it to the child. They like the sweet and sour flavor and will have it without much complain. First, it forms a coat on the lining of the throat and controls irritation that triggers cough. Then the antibacterial properties of honey help fight off the infection and eliminate the mucus from the body. Lemon juice gives plenty of vitamin C that strengthens the immune system and enables it to fight the infection.
Help them Sleep
When your child falls sick, he or she needs plenty of rest in order to recover from the infection. However, as they lie down, post nasal drip at the back of the throat causes irritation and cough and they find it difficult to fall asleep. An effective solution to this problem is propping up their head slightly by putting an extra pillow, rolled blanket or towel under their mattress. The head side of the bed can be raised with some bricks for the same purpose. This will allow the mucus to flow out and prevent congestion of nose. Another way to add some comfort is the use of humidifier inside the bedroom to increase the humidity level of the indoor air. This will moisten up the mucus and reduce the stuffiness of the nose often caused by dry air.
You should avoid use of any over-the-counter medicines to treat head colds as they do not suit small children and may have adverse side effects. In case, use of these remedies does not show any signs of improvement within the first few days, then you must consult a pediatrician for further treatment. Head colds often lead to sinus infection or ear infection that can be very painful and should be treated by experts only.