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Top Child Ailments- How to treat them by a top doctor!

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I don’t know about you but I think there is nothing worse than a sick kid!  Not only does it break my heart to see my little one suffer with an illness but it makes them super crabby!  They don’t sleep well, they cry a lot and they are basically just miserable! 

So, when my kids get sick my only goal is to get them better!  And this goal will be challenged for months to come since October just kicked off cold and flu season!  That means lots of sick kids!

When we saw this list of the five most common ailments of the season and tips on how to avoid them from Dr. Zak Zarbock, one of the nation’s top pediatricians and the founder of Zarbee’s, the fastest-growing cold and cough brand in the country, I just had to share them.

doctor stethoscope

1. Nasopharyngitis or Acute Viral Rhinopharyngitis (The Common Cold)

What is it?

The common cold is caused by a virus that affects the upper respiratory system. Common symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, congestion and fever. The common cold is the most frequent infectious disease in humans. There is no cure for the common cold and symptoms generally last for an average of seven to 10 days. Children average six to 10 colds per year and as many as one per month during cold and flu season. 

How to avoid it:

Make sure your kids wash their hands regularly

Encourage your kids to cough into their elbow

Help your kids maintain a strong immune system by making sure they get lots of rest

Encourage your kids to drink plenty of fluids to keep their airways moist 

If your home is dry, a humidifier or the regular use of nasal saline sprays may help

Teach your kids to avoid touching their face—the gateway for viruses—as as much as possible

How to treat it:

Since the common cold is a virus, antibiotics won’t work. Encourage children to get enough rest and drink plenty of liquids.

Children 12 months of age and older may take Zarbee’s All-Natural Children’s Cough Syrup,  a buckwheat-honey-based, over-the-counter cough remedy that has been proven in clinical trials to   be the safest and most effective treatment for coughs in children. Kids over the age two can also take Zarbee’s Nighttime Cough and Sleep Drink, a new, all-natural, drug-free, over-the-counter nighttime cough remedy with a small amount of melatonin, which research shows safely and naturally helps kids fall asleep.

2.  Acute Otitis Media (Ear Infection)

What is it?

Ear infections are almost always directly related to congested or poorly functioning internal ear canals (Eustachian tubes). Congestion may be a result of a cold, allergies, enlarged adenoids or a viral illness that has decreased the ear’s ability to drain the fluid that has collected within it. As a child grows, he or she may experience fewer ear infections because the ear canal changes position, becoming more vertical and draining more efficiently. 

How to avoid them:

The only way to truly avoid ear infections is to eliminate the source of congestion and inner ear canal dysfunction.  Trying to stop congestion (i.e. the common cold) can be difficult but may be improved with the use of an antihistamine or an anti-inflammatory, e.g., ibuprofen, to reduce mucus production and swelling. 

How to treat them:

Ear infections will often clear on their own without the use of antibiotics.  In older children (two years of age and older), watchful waiting may be a good option if pain is controlled and the child otherwise looks well.  For younger children and older children with persistent symptoms, antibiotics may be necessary to help eliminate the infection.

3. Strep Pharyngitis (Strep Throat)

What is it?

Strep throat is a contagious disease caused by the streptococcal bacteria that is very common in school-aged children. Symptoms may include a sore throat, fever, headache, stomach pain and/or a rash. Typically, strep throat does not include runny nose, congestion or cough. These symptoms would be more indicative of a viral infection. In most cases, strep throat can be detected with a simple test in the doctor’s office. 

 How to avoid it:

Limiting close contact with those currently infected is the best way to prevent strep throat.  In addition, children should make sure to wash their hands often and not share drinks, cups, straws, utensils, and tooth brushes. 

 How to treat it:

Strep throat must be treated with antibiotics. Generally, a child is no longer contagious after being on antibiotics for 24 hours.  It is important to treat strep throat to avoid possible complications like rheumatic fever.

4.  Laryngotracheobronchitis (Croup) 

What is it?

Croup is commonly caused by a virus and characterized by that classic seal-barking cough, always at its worst in the middle of the night. Swelling just below the vocal cords causes the characteristic cough.

How to avoid it:

Much like a cold virus, croup is best avoided by good hand washing and by resisting the urge to touch one’s face or put things in one’s mouth.  Plenty of rest and lots of fluids will also help the immune system to perform at its best. 

How to treat it:

Place a warm blanket around your toddler and carry him or her outside to breathe in the cold night air.  In a warmer climate, you can let your child breathe in the cold air from an open freezer door. Cold air may help decrease swelling in the airway. A steam shower may also help improve symptoms.

Ultimately, if a child is not improving, a child may need a short course of steroids to help decrease any swelling and improve breathing.

5.  Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

What is it?

Pink eye is one of the most contagious illnesses among children. Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually characterized by redness that covers the white of the eye and a large amount of goopy drainage. This type of infection typically responds to antibiotic drops. Viral causes tend to have less drainage, do not respond to antibiotics and usually last for three-to-five days. 

How to avoid it:

Wash your hands often and avoid touching your eyes.

How to treat it:

Bacterial conjunctivitis must be treated with antibiotic drops or ointments

For viral conjunctivitis, time is the only cure.  

After treating a child with pink eye, wash your hands immediately and avoid touching your own eyes.

For more information on Zarbee’s, visit their website at

About Dr. Zarbock

Zak Zarbock, M.D. is one of the country’s top pediatricians and the Founder and President of Zarbee’s, the fastest-growing children’s cough and cold brand in the country. As one of the nation’s leading experts on treating coughs and colds in children, Dr. Zak, as he is known, was invited to participate in the September 2010 FDA hearing on Capitol Hill and speak about the potential dangers of cough syrup. Dr. Zak is also a regular guest on TV and radio shows and serves as a resource for reporters writing stories about pediatric issues. A member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Zak practices medicine at Families First Pediatrics in South Jordan, Utah. Zarbock completed his medical training at The Ohio State University College of Medicine after earning his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from Brigham Young University. At Ohio State, he was honored for his outstanding pediatric research and academic achievements. He completed his pediatric internship and residency at the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Zarbock is married to his wife of 13 years and is the proud father of four boys between the ages of three and 11. In his spare time, Dr. Zarbock enjoys skiing, hiking, camping and spending time with his family.

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