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Health & Parenting

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Home Remedies for Kids' Winter Ills

Antibiotics don't work on colds and the flu, and many doctors have stopped prescribing them if your child has the sniffles. Try these doctor-recommended home remedies instead.

Fever May Not Require Home Remedies

"Fever is a defense put up by the body," Kemper reminds. "The body is trying to reset the temperature to kill bacteria and viruses. It is a symptom, not something that needs to be cured." Acetaminophen will bring the temperature down, but that is not always necessary.

Cold baths also used to be used. Kemper discourages that now. "Let the fever work."

Walls agrees. "Fever is an ally," he says. "People used to believe it destroyed brain cells, but it doesn't. What about convulsions in children with high fevers? "If this is going to occur," Walls says, "it will be at the first fever spike. You won't have time to bring the fever down to prevent it."

Walls is more worried about the timing of the fever. At the onset the illness, it's probably OK, "If the child has the symptoms awhile and then develops a fever, call the doctor," he says.

Home Remedies Abound for Ear Infections

Although many parents are accustomed to the trip to the doctor for the "pink medicine" (amoxicillin), many doctors are getting away from that for ear infections these days. "No high fever, no antibiotics," Walls says. (So at least don't insist if your doctor has changed tactics.)

If the pink stuff is needed, it's being given in more intensive doses. Times are changing.

Both doctors recommend over-the-counter remedies such as Auralgan (an ear drop that reduces the inflammation and pain of ear infections) or various oils such as almond, olive, garlic, and other herbs. "I have had kids brought in that smelled like a Greek salad," laughs Walls.

Kemper notes that oils can help equalize pressure on the eardrum and ease discomfort.

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also good for pain. "We treat the pain now and let the child's body resolve the inflammation," she says. "Even if we can look in and see pus, we leave it alone."

Earaches also hurt more when the child is lying down. Prop the youngster up, recommends Kemper.

Home Remedies for Sore Throat

The major concern with sore throat is to be sure it's not strep. Kemper says. "If it's summer, it's probably not," she says.

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