In Summary


Having a child is exciting and demanding. There will be times when the baby gets sick and there is always a debate on whether or not to use home remedies or rush off to the doctor. ZUURAH KARUNGI asks experts on whether to give children home remedies or not.

“I believe that exposing my children to medication all the time can cause addiction and the medicine may not be effective in the long run,” says Evelyn Aganyira, a mother of one.

Cough, flu, constipation and other simple infections and disorders can be treated from home. However, this may not be advisable in some cases since they could be signs and symptoms of serious diseases. We therefore need to know when to and when not to apply home remedies.

Some home remedies are medically accepted and may have no side effect on children. Remedies in form of fruits and other food stuffs, and those for burns and colds can be used, but for minor cases.

Aganyira says, she can never take her three-year-old son to the hospital because of common infections such as cough, as she mixes honey with ginger and garlic cough syrup which she says the son responds to well.

She further notes that some diseases such as cough and common colds are seasonal. A schoolgoing child might catch a cough more often and so you cannot keep taking the child to the hospital from the beginning to end of term.

Common remedies
Dr Annie Kanyera, says home remedies can be given in many cases.
“Common colds can be treated with lemon juice or a mixture of ginger in tea; for diarrhoea, a salt and sugar solution, while minor abdominal pain, a child should be asked to lie on their stomach or be told to constantly empty their bowel. A mild headache can be cured with the help of panadol or drinking plenty of fluids, especially water,” Kanyera explains.

To Kanyera, a parent should not waste their time and money taking their children to the hospital because of the above mentioned cases unless they persist.

When to report to hospital
The paediatrician notes that certain diseases should never be tampered with from home because they may need technical personnel because they could worsen or cause death if a child is delayed at home.

“Symptoms that seem rare should be quickly reported to the hospital because tests have to be taken immediately.
Meningitis, persistent malaria, anaemia should also be reported fast because only experts can fix them.

Common errors parents make
While offering treatment from home, some parents do things unknowingly which may lead to drug effects.
Jordan Mwesigwa, a nutritionist, says the biggest mistake is using dirty containers and unboiled water in cases of oral rehydration salts (ORS) or any fluids.

“Some parents keep the ORS liquid for long yet it is supposed to last at least 12 hours, others mix either too much salt or sugar, making it less effective,” he adds

In cases where the parent is supposed to give medications like panadol, they sometimes give overdose thinking it well make the children better soon not knowing that it is harmful