How to ease symptoms amid Canada’s shortage of children’s cold and flu medication

With Canada’s shortage of children’s cold and flu medication still lingering, parents have other options to help ease symptoms in little ones dealing with coughs, sore throats and the other common ailments of flu season.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced Friday that one million bottles arrived in Canada through foreign imports and about 1.1 million units have been produced domestically so far in November.

However, as parents and caregivers wait for those bottles to make their way onto shelves in our province, Manitoba Pediatric Society president Doctor Marni Hanna said there are several treatment alternatives to help ease symptoms.

For starters, Dr. Hanna advises parents of children experiencing fevers not to panic.

“Not all fevers need, medication and a fever is your body’s natural response to getting sick,” she told CTV Morning Live Winnipeg’s Rachel Lagacé in an interview Monday.

“We’re more concerned if fevers are going on for more than five days, or if the child is under three months old, or if they look really sick, dehydrated, or if they’re having trouble breathing.”

Hanna recommends putting a cool cloth on children’s heads, keeping their body temperature down with light clothing and keeping the room cool.

She adds babies with coughs can be treated with saline spray or drops paired with a nasal aspirator to remove mucus. Keeping their heads elevated instead of lying flat will also make breathing and coughing easier.

For older kids, Hanna said the old standbys work well – a humidifier, lots of fluids, plus some extra snuggles.

CHICKEN SOUP? A SLICE OF ONION? WHICH OLD WIVES’ TALES WORK

Meanwhile, there are a few long-held flu remedies that Hanna says have little evidence to back up their lore.

The doctor said classics like chicken soup and a teaspoon of honey can help soothe sore throats.

“I think the reason why people resort to (chicken soup) is because warm fluids in general just feel better on a sore throat and there’s salt in it, so it helps you to maintain your hydration,” she said.

Then, there are the more obscure flu treatments that have gained notoriety over the years – like putting Vicks VapoRub on a child’s face or putting a slice of onion on their feet.

“I think parents just want to feel like they’re doing something. We would caution against putting Vicks VapoRub on a child’s face. So definitely avoid putting it on their face. But if you put it on their feet, that maybe it’ll do something, but I doubt it,” Dr. Hanna said.

– With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagacé and the Alissa Thibault

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