“My youngest daughter, Janeth, got flu. What I did, according to my mother, is that I have to put manzanilla to her head and body to keep her warm then put lipstick on her forehead because other people might usog [or look and regard that will bring bad karma on] my daughter and further worsen her condition,” shares Joy, a 43-year-old mother of twelve.
Similar stories are shared by mothers regarding their remedies for seasonal flu – and regardless of how revered, theirs is a tradition that must be re-examined, especially in light of the potency of the illness. Influenza or flu is a highly contagious acute viral infection caused by the influenza virus that affects mainly the nose, throat, bronchi and occasionally, the lungs. According to the World Health Organization, there are three types of seasonal influenza: type A, B, and C. These viruses circulate in every part of the world, and because type A and B are the most common, they are included in seasonal influenza vaccines.
Most viral infections go away after a day or two, but some require more medical attention. As parents, it is our responsibility not only to keep our children away from this life-threatening illness but to also prepare ourselves in the event a family member gets sick.
Remedies that work?
While everyone has home remedies passed on from one generation to the next, we must exercise caution even when they seem harmless. Pediatrician Roleth Velasques-Sapatin, M.D., a consultant at the Las Pinas City Health Office, looks at Joy’s action and cautions that it is not advisable to apply liniment such as manzanilla oil and lipstick on an infant’s sensitive skin. The liniment releases an aroma that is not suitable for babies and may cause dizziness, while lipstick may cause an allergic reaction and can irritate the young skin.
Dr. Sapatin lists some of the helpful tips in managing and preventing seasonal flu:
• Vaccination is still the safest and best way in preventing flu. May be given as early as six months of age
• Frequent hand washing helps minimize the chance of transmitting any viruses from hand to mouth, nose, or eyes
• Increased fluid intake prevents dehydration; make sure you have the required eight glasses a day.
• Adequate bed rest of seven to eight hours is essential.
• Increase caloric intake can be done by switching from a soft diet to regular diet.
• Continue breastfeeding babies.
• Gargle saline solution, as supervised by parents.
• Do tepid sponge baths to keep clean and bring down temperatures if the patient is feverish.
• Cover mouth when coughing and sneezing.
• Increase vitamin C intake with natural sources like fruits and vegetables.
• May use antipyretics like paracetamol every four hours for fever.
If children experience fever for more than three days, have a barking cough, or difficulty breathing, make unusual breathing noises like wheezing and crackles, and their appearance seems to be getting worse, emergency medical attention is required.
“To all parents, always consult a doctor [if] you are not sure about your child’s health”, adds Dr. Sapatin.