Colds and influenza in children
During the winter months, children are particularly susceptible to cold and ‘flu viruses. Home, daycare and school can quickly become a viral ping-pong situation. Why? Which treatments are suitable for babies and small children?
As a child’s immune system is still immature and has not yet formed antibodies against the various viruses and bacteria causing the disease, babies and small children are particularly susceptible to colds and ‘flu (influenza). On average, children get six to eight colds per year, and adults only two to four.1 The pathogens of colds and the ‘flu are airborne, which is why the risk of infection is increased by colds, coughs or sneezing, especially in kindergarten and school, where many children come together. Infections with “real” influenza are also widespread worldwide and cause a considerable burden on the health of children every year.2 Doctors therefore recommend influenza vaccination (‘flu shots) as a preventive measure for risk groups, e.g. elderly people, pregnant women, people with a weak immune system or chronic illnesses. Due to their immature immune systems, children and babies are also included in these risk groups.
Cold? ‘Flu? Treatment for the youngest patients
The treatment of colds and influenza depends on the type and severity of the symptoms. As for adults, it is particularly important for children suffering from a cold or ‘flu to find sufficient rest, sleep and to drink sufficient liquids, e.g. tea, which is warming and also prevents dehydration - especially when the child has a temperature. If the cough is accompanied by a cold, medication containing ribwort plantain (e.g. Eucabal®-Hustensaft [cough syrup]) can alleviate the cough stimulus and calm the respiratory tract. Expectorants specially intended for children, such as Bromuc® akut Junior Hustenlöser (expectorant), can help dissolve the mucous and aid in expectorating it. Creams or ointments containing essential oils such as menthol or eucalyptus (e.g. Eucabal®-Balsam S) may provide relief when rubbed onto the child’s chest or back. Bath additives (e.g. Eucabal® Kinderbad mit Thymian [child’s bath with thyme]) can also help to calm the respiratory tract when a baby or small child is suffering from a cough or blocked nose. In addition, baths provide soothing warmth.
Always consult a paediatrician if your child is under the age of three months or has a cough and a fever. The same applies to additional symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea and breathing problems.
1 Van Driel ML et al. What treatments are effective for common cold in adults and children? Bmj, 2018, 363. Jg., S. k3786.
2 Kondrich J Rosenthal M. Influenza in children. Current opinion in pediatrics, 2017, 29. Jg., Nr. 3, S. 297-302.