Cold and flu season is back – achoo! – So if you have children, you'll want to be prepared if they're struck down with the no-fun-for-anyone sore throat.
A cold virus, for which there is no cure, is usually the cause of a sore throat, so treating the symptoms can provide relief and help your little one do the best they can through their sore throat. According to Brisbane-based nutritionist Tracie Hyam, soothing it naturally with some things you probably have at home is often very effective. "The best foods and drinks to feed your child when they have a painful sore throat are soft foods that aren’t hard to swallow and clear fluids to keep them hydrated," says Hyam.
Sugar-free icy poles
"Serving up sugar-free ice blocks is one way to assist with hydrating and soothing children, especially those who find swallowing water too painful."
Most store-bought versions contain added sugar, so be sure to check the label for ingredients. If you have the time, Hyam suggests making your own. "It’s easy to make nutritious ice blocks by blending fresh fruit with water or coconut water in a blender, then pouring them into ice-cube trays and putting them in the freezer."
Why sugar-free? Because glucose, a type of sugar in many foods, can hinder the absorption of vitamins and can actually lead to depleted levels of vitamin C, which can, in turn, weaken the immune system.
"Raw honey is a good option, with a sweet taste that soothes and coats the throat, relieving that harsh feeling of ‘razor blades’," says Hyam. "You can add honey to drinks with lemon or eat it on its own."
However, it's important not to give honey to children under the age of 12 months, due to the risk of the presence of clostridiumbotulinum spores, which can cause infant botulism. Infant botulism is a disease that blocks nerve function, causing weakness and loss of muscle tone. Numerous research studies link ingesting honey with the disease, which has led to the recommendation not to feed it to children less than a year old.
There's no home remedy quite like a bowl of soup, and it's a great way to get your child eating something nourishing that will also soothe their throat.
"Soups are a great option, as they’re easy to swallow, and you can make them very nutritious with added vegetables, soft noodles and optional soft meat," says Hyam. "Many children won’t feel like eating when they have a sore throat, but it’s important to keep them hydrated with soup and provide energy with nutrient-rich foods that may help speed up recovery."
If your child is old enough to manage it, gargling warm water with salt stirred in can reduce swelling and discomfort.
In an excerpt from his book, The Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies, Dr. Philip T Hagen writes, "A saline solution can draw excess fluid from inflamed tissues in the throat, making them hurt less."
Alternatively, if a persistent cough is contributing to a sore throat, warm water with lemon can both loosen congestion and aid hydration. In this case, your child doesn't have to gargle it – they can swallow it. Again, add some honey (see above) to help it go down and for added relief.
Soft, non-acidic fruits, such as bananas, can be a gentle option for your little one's tender throat. Plus, they'll get a healthy hit of vitamin B6, vitamin C and potassium.
These are just five excellent options for relieving a sore throat naturally and from the convenience of your kitchen, but you can also look to your medicine cabinet for relief for your child. An analgesic like Nurofen for Children* can also help relieve a painful sore throat, in addition to other cold and flu symptoms that often go hand in hand with raw and raspy throats, such as headaches, fever and body aches. If your child is suffering serious discomfort, you can also talk to a pharmacist about medicated lozenges, and it's a good idea to consult your paediatrician.
*Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. Consult your health care professional if symptoms persist. Do not give to babies under 3 months. Seek medical advice for children less than 1 year.
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional.