Sunday, April 18, 2010

Natural remedies for kids' congestion

We’ve been a sick house for the past several days, beginning with Owen’s violent but fleeting 12-hour stomach bug and ending with a mysterious bug that has had Will running fevers of 103 between Tylenol doses. He’s been lying around miserable, fighting congestion, sore throat, headaches, an upset tummy and until today he was refusing all food. Rob and I have never seen him so sick. This morning we saw those tell-tale white pus pockets on the back of his throat and top of his mouth that scream “Strep!” so we got him started on an antibiotic.

In the meantime, I’ve finally found some natural kid-friendly methods for fighting congestion that seem to be helping my kids cope with some of the sinus issues and perhaps prevent some of the ear infections that have plagued us in the past. For stuffy noses, we use Little Noses saline spray as well as an Xlear Kid’s nasal spray, a spray that contains the natural sweetener xylitol and grapefruit seed along with the saline and water. Both Will and Owen think the Xlear is more effective at clearing their noses, and there seems to be some research to back it up. I also let the kids chew xylitol-based gum to stave off ear infections. Both the act of chewing and the xylitol are supposed to be good for preventing ear infections (and preventing tooth decay as well).

I’ll also boil some water, pour it in a mug and let Will breathe the steam in through his nose to loosen all that gunk.

These are the things you have to do when your kids are too young for Buteyko breathing method exercises or a neti pot (both of which have been helping me with my sinus issues).

For nighttime coughs, we’re still using honey -- another simple technique that research has shown to be more effective than any children's cough medicines.

What natural remedies have you found effective for coping with and/or preventing children’s congestion, coughs and ear infections?