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How to fix sick kids
Kim Norton wonders what the best methods are for treating sick children.
A friend told me recently that she doesn't like her child to have medicine when she’s ill as she’s so small.  This is the opposite of what I do, because my children are small, I’m likely to medicate more quickly to ease their discomfort, whereas I might just sit and wait something out when I’m ill.

For parents, it can be really confusing.  The doctor says take your child home, let them snuggle close and have breastmilk or clear fluids and perhaps give some paracetamol if they’re uncomfortable, but we want to do something.

But what are the differences?

That got me thinking.  Do most people know the difference between medicine, homoeopathy and herbal medicines?  I think we all know what medicine is.  Herbal remedies can be quite potent and can interact with prescription medicines, there’s evidence that some of them work for some conditions, and some medicine was originally derived from plants.  However, as there is no regulation of this industry, there is no guarantee that what you are buying actually contains what the label says (much like the sausage roll you buy might be donkey and not beef or pork as you thought).  Also, there is no guarantee that there is enough of the active ingredient in each dose, and sometimes an ideal dosage is not known.  Those herbal or natural remedies that work have generally crossed over into the realm of medicine and when new ones are discovered they do too.  Then there is homoeopathy.  This is water that has been shaken, or sugar pills.  It defies logic that the more you dilute something the stronger it is.  Try that with your whiskey and see for yourself.  I’m not so sure water has a memory as claimed either.  I rather hope its not remembering fish having sex as I drink it.  

Many illnesses get better by themselves – if you have a cold, you can take something to ease the headache and the congestion, but you really just have to wait for it to pass.  Its going to last about a week whether you take mountains of vitamin C, a hot toddy and some over the counter medicine or not.  There are many illnesses like this.  Maybe this is why when we give homeopathic or herbal remedies, we’re sure that is what treated the problem – we don’t realise it had pretty much run its course anyway.  Our mind tells us that we did something to treat it and that is what fixed the problem.  The thing is, we’ve now shelled out money and given something that hasn't eased our child’s discomfort.  

If you’re interested in reading more, you may find the information on these sites helpful:

We all know that medicines have side effects – only things without any effect could possibly have no side effects.  That is why, when opting to give medication for something, we need to look at whether the benefit of taking the medicine is bigger than the risk of not taking it. 

First, do no harm

Perhaps it’s our feelings about the risks we’re willing to take that have lead to my friend and I doing the complete opposite when it comes to medicating our children.  I’m happy to give a bit of Calpol if my child has a cold, she would rather mop her child’s brow with a damp face cloth.  Neither of our children is going to come to harm from this, we’re both parenting according to what our values are and we love our children just the same. 

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

How do you choose to help your child get over a minor illness?

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