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Tips of the Week for January, 2018

Caring for Your Child’s Cold or Flu


​Unfortunately, there's no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics may be used to combat bacterial infections, but they have no effect on viruses. The best you can do is to make your child comfortable. Make sure your child gets extra rest and drinks lots of fluids.

Your pediatrician may want to see your child or ask you to watch him or her closely and report back if there is not daily improvement or a full recovery after one week.  

To Relieve a Stuffy Nose:

Nose drops or spray 

  • Use saltwater (saline) nose drops (1 to 2 drops in each nostril) or spray (1 to 2 sprays in each nostril). For infants, use a rubber suction bulb to suck out the extra drops or spray. When using the suction bulb, remember to squeeze the bulb part of the syringe first, gently stick the rubber tip into one nostril, and then slowly release the bulb. This slight amount of suction will draw the clogged mucus out of the nose and should allow her to breathe and suck at the same time once again. You'll find that this technique works best when your baby is under 6 months of age. As your baby gets older, he or she will fight the bulb, making it difficult to suction the mucus, but the saline drops will still be effective.


  • Place a cool-mist humidifier (vaporizer) in your child's room to help keep nasal secretions more liquid and make your child more comfortable. Set it close to your child (but safely beyond reach) so that he or she gets the full benefit of the additional moisture. Be sure to clean and dry the humidifier thoroughly each day to prevent bacterial or mold contamination. Hot-water vaporizers are not recommended since they can cause serious scalds or burns.

To Relieve a Cough: 


  • Do not give honey to babies under one year—it is not safe. 

  • For children ages 1 to 5 years: Try half a teaspoon of honey.

  • For children ages 6 to 11: Try one teaspoon of honey.

  • For children 12 or older: Try two teaspoons of honey.

  • If honey is given at bedtime, make sure your child's teeth are brushed afterward.

Cough drops or lozenges

  • Consider cough drops or lozenges for children 4 and older. Do not give cough drops or lozenges to a child younger than 4 years because he could choke on them. Also do not give your child more cough drops than directed on the package.

To Relieve a Fever: 

Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen

  • ​​If your child has a fever and is very uncomfortable, give her single-ingredient acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Always call your pediatrician before giving medicine to a child under 2 years of age, and call right away if your child is under three months of age and has a fever.

  • For children over the age of 2 years, check the label to see how much medicine to give. If you know your child's weight, use that. If you do not know your child's weight, go by age for the dose amount. See Fever and Pain Medicine: How Much to Give Your Child for more information.

  • Ibuprofen is approved for use in children 6 months of age and older; however, it should never be given to children who are dehydrated or who are vomiting repeatedly.

  • Do not give your child aspirin, which has been linked with Reye syn​drome, a rare but very serious illness that affects the liver and the brain.

  • Ask the doctor for the right medicine and dose in millileters (mL) for your child's age and size. Always measure each dose using a device (syringe, dosing cup, or distinctly marked measuring spoon) that is marked in milliliters. Watch the video The Healthy Children Show: Giving Liquid Medicine Safely for more information.​

Prevention & Treatment:

Flu vaccine

  • Children 6 months or older should get a flu vaccine each year. Children who are older than 6 months but younger than 2 years should get a flu shot.

  • Children younger than 6 months are too young to get a flu vaccines. In order to protect them, make sure the people around them get a flu vaccine. 

Over-the-counter cough & cold medicines:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines should not be given to infants and children under 4 years of age because of the risk of life-threatening side effects. Several studies show that cold and cough products don't work in children younger than 6 years and can have potentially serious side effects.

  • Many cold medicines already have acetaminophen (Tylenol or generic) in them. If you give one of these medicines along with acetaminophen or (Tylenol or generic), your child will get a double dose.

If antibiotics are prescribed:

  • Make sure children take them exactly as directed, even if they feel better. If antibiotic treatment stops too soon, the infection may get worse or spread in the body. Call the doctor if your child is not getting better with treatment.

  • If the antibiotic is a liquid, ask your child's doctor for the right dosage in millileters (mL) for your child's age and size. Always measure each dose using a device (syringe, cup, or spoon) that is marked in milliliters.

Additional Information from

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2017)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

All information provided by  For additional information please go to

Practicing Gynecologist Discusses Consequences of HPV in Women in thei


By: Rebecca Perkins MD, MSc, FACOG

I have been in practice for 10 years, and I currently see patients in a community gynecology practice. Approximately one out of every five women I see presents for a problem related to the human papillomavirus (HPV).

New data show, and my practice confirms, that most HPV infections do not "clear" but rather go dormant and reactivate later in life. Most of my patients are in their thirties and forties. Almost all are married. One had been abstinent for 26 years before her first positive HPV test. 

To prevent cervical cancer, I evaluate my patients with abnormal Pap or HPV testing with biopsies of their cervix. Some of these women develop severe pre-cancerous changes and require a minor surgical procedure to remove the diseased portion of their cervix before they develop invasive cancer. I have to monitor the others for years with painful cervical biopsies to make sure they are not developing cancer.

I have recently performed hysterectomies on three women in their thirties who developed a severe pre-cancer that could not be treated with a less invasive procedure. At the time that one of these patient's pre-cancers was discovered on a routine screening Pap test. She and her husband were beginning infertility treatments. Because of the aggressive nature of her pre-cancer, a hysterectomy was recommended following her initial procedure. After several months of consideration, she and her husband decided to forego having children together so that she could have a lifesaving hysterectomy.

I am not an oncologist. In the United States, at least 8,000 men and women will die from an HPV-related cancer this year—a mortality burden similar to measles in the pre-vaccine era. As a gynecologist, I see HPV vaccination as an incredible advance, and a way to vastly improve the lives of women and men by protecting them in adolescence.

About Dr. Perkins:

Rebecca Perkins, MD, MSc Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Boston University School of Medicine/ Boston Medical Center, has been actively involved in cervical cancer prevention research since 2003. Her work focuses on attitudes toward HPV vaccination in parents of low-income, minority adolescents in the United States and the providers who serve them. She is also studying interventions to improve HPV vaccination rates in low-income, minority adolescents. She is currently working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Cancer Society, and CDC on national HPV vaccination work.

Medicine Before Vaccines

This article is part of a series of first-person accounts published in recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month, which is held in August every year.


Rebecca Perkins MD, MSc, FACOG

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2015)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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