Illness and Child Care



Abdominal pain

This can be caused by indigestion, colic or wind, and antacids or charcoal tablets will help to relieve the symptoms quickly. Anyone suffering from abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting or fever should be seen by a doctor.

Bad breath

Bad breath may simply be the result of smoking or eating spicy foods, but can also be caused by gum disease. Cleaning teeth regularly and using dental floss will ensure the health of gums and, with the use of antiseptic mouth washes, the problem should disappear. If gums are not the problem, there may be a digestive disorder and you should seek the advice of a doctor.



Chickenpox

In the first few days a slight fever may occur, which can be treated with paracetamol. Try to prevent a child from scratching the spots, as this may lead to infection. A daily bath or shower will prevent the spots from becoming infected, and calamine lotion applied afterwards will help to reduce and relieve the itching.

Colds

Resting as much as possible and taking plenty of fluids will help to clear up a cold quickly. Aspirin or paracetamol will help to reduce the discomfort and lower fever, and medicines containing decongestants will ease congestion.



The herbalists’ traditional standby is an infusion of equal amounts of peppermint (Memiku piperita),elderilower (Sumbucus nigra) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Taken hot just before going to bed, this will induce a sweat, and if the cold is caught early enough, may stop it altogether.

Cold sores

After the initial infection, the virus that causes cold sores lies dormant in nerve cells until, under the right conditions, it re-activates and causes the familiar blistering. The blisters are highly contagious, so avoid touching them as the virus can easily be transferred. Cold-sore creams are available from chemists (drugstores). They should be applied when the symptoms of prickling start, but before blisters appear.



Constipation

Lack of dietary fiber and exercise, and an insufficient fluid intake can cause constipation. Eat plenty of foods containing bran, whole meal (wholegrain) bread, vegetables, pulses and fruits. If the problem persists, it would be advisable to see a doctor.

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

The main launches of alternative medicine are: acupuncture, the ancient Chinese practice of inserting needles into the body to restore the balance of vital energy, which can be used for a wide range of conditions, including headaches, sprains and even strokes. The others are osteopathy and chiropractic, which involve the manipulation of bones and joints; and homeopathy, which takes into account the patient as a whole rather than just the physical symptom and treats them accordingly. You may wish to try some of the homeopathic remedies, available at many chemists (drugstores) and health food shops, for nesting simple complaints at home, but for a full diagnosis of a serious complaint, it is essential to see a qualified homeopathic doctor.



If you do try alternative medicine for treating more serious conditions, let both your orthodox doctor and the alternative practitioner know about each other. Tell each of them what the other has prescribed and about any medicines or treatments you are already having. Make sure you see a fully qualified practitioner before embarking on any new treatment.

Convulsions

Convulsions usually affect small children and are often the result of a high fever. These are known as febrile convulsions, and will only last for a few minutes at a time. Reduce the child’s temperature by sponging with tepid water. Once the convulsion has passed, paracetamol elixir will help to reduce the fever. Always call a doctor even when the convulsion has stopped.



Coughs

Numerous cough remedies are available, depending on the type of cough, ask your pharmacist for advice. Whichever treatment you use, if a cough does not improve within a few days, seek professional help, especially for children. Breathing in steamy air can help to loosen phlegm, and inhaling a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl of hot water can have a cleansing effect.

This is an area where herbs are of special benefit; if in doubt get qualified treatment. Choose from one or a mixture of the following, taken as warm infusions. Coltsfoot (Tictsilagofatfara), one of the best cough remedies, particularly for irritating, spasmodic coughs, will soothe, loosen mucus and reduce the spasm. llyssop(1-1,tssopus officinalis) is a calming and relaxing expectorant for a cough that is associated with restlessness and irritation. For a harsh, dry and painful cough always include marshmallow (Althea ojicinalis) in a mixture, to ease the soreness. Thyme (Thymus valgaris) is powerfully antiseptic and relieves a dry cough linked with a respiratory infection. As an expectorate, white horehound (Manubiunt valgare) frees up thick, sticky mucus.

Aromatherapy oils used in a steam inhalation can help a cough do its job mote effectively; they can be chosen to soothe the lining of the air passages, fight infection if needed, and loosen mucus to make it easier to be removed. Soothing oils include benzoin and lavender; thyme and eucalyptus are antiseptic; and frankincense or marjoram increase expectoration. Choose a blend that you like the smell of. Essential oils have an ancient link with water and have been used since classical times.

Diarrhea

Loose, frequent bowel movements can happen as a short term reaction to infection, inflammation or food poisoning, and as such are quite a positive, cleansing action. A common experience is holiday diarrhea, and this is usually a response to exposure to unfamiliar bacteria.



As a herbal treatment if mild food poisoning or infection has upset the bowels, try eating garlic as a natural gut disinfectant. Agrimony (Aggiimontacapawria), astringent and healing to the inflamed and swollen membrane lining the gut, is helpful in mild gastro-enteritis. Chamomile, (Chamomillarecutiut), one of the first herbs for many digestive disorders, is calming and anti-inflammatory, and so reduces the impact of tension on the digestive tract. Meadowsweet (Filipenduio ulmaria) will help to settle an acidic stomach. Ribwort (Amigo lanceolaut) has excellent toning, soothing and healing properties for use in diarrhea from many causes where there is inflammation. Thyme (Thymuscalgaris) will fight infections and improve digestion generally, settling churning, loose bowels and killing harmful bacteria.

Massage of the abdomen with antiseptic and relaxing oils like chamomile, lavender and neroli can ease diarrhea caused by minor upsets and also by anxiety and nervousness. Eucalyptus can be used in the same way if an infection is definitely suspected as the cause. Add fennel or ginger if there are griping pains with the diarrhea. For all these oils, dilute to 3 per cent in a base oil.

Causes of diarrhea vary, some foods have a laxative effect naturally, for instance prunes or figs, so over indulgence will give temporary diarrhea. Stress and anxiety often increase peristalsis and hurry bowel contents through. Repeated diarrhea may indicate more complex digestive problems and should be treated professionally. Prolonged diarrhea, especially in young children, can be quite serious as it causes dehydration; ensure adequate fluid intake and seek professional advice.

A simple yet dramatically effective rehydration drink can be made by dissolving 5 ml/1 tsp salt and 15 ml/ 1 tbsp sugar in 600 m1/I pt/21/2 cups of boiled water. Keep in the refrigerator in a screw-topped bottle and give small amounts frequently, use for a short time only.



Earache

This can be the result of a heavy cold, or of an infection of the inner or outer ear causing pain and deafness. Aspirin or paracetamol will help the pain. See a doctor if fluid builds up behind the ear causing it to rupture and the fluid to seep out.

Hot compresses over the ear are the most effective home herbal treatment; chamomile (Chamontitla recutita) maybe used as an infusion for this purpose. Taking garlic internally will help to reduce any catarrh and fight infection. If on professional examination the eardrum is not perforated, then crush some garlic into 5 m1/1 tsp of olive oil; this is warmed to blood temperature and a few drops gently inserted into the ear for a local antibiotic.

Two very good essential oils to draw the inflammation outwards as hot compresses are chamomile and lavender; or try a combination of both. The pungency of garlic and other bulbs and fruits, speeds up the metabolism and acts as an antiseptic.

Ear ache in children

Ear aches, especially in children, need to be treated quickly as an infection within the middle ear can be both painful and damaging. Speedy home help can be very useful to avoid these problems, but get medical help if the ear ache worsens or persists.



Eye infections

Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection that results in sticky eyelids and sore, bloodshot eyes. Make up a dilute solution of 1 part bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) to 20 parts of boiled and then cooled water, and use cotton-wool (absorbent cotton) swabs to gently ease the sticky ‘glue’ from the eyelids. Always use a fresh swab on each eye.

Food poisoning

The sufferer should have plenty of rest and only be given fluids for 24 hours. With an adult, call a doctor if the condition does not improve within this period. Food poisoning can be more serious with children and the elderly, so they should be watched carefully. Call a doctor straight away if a baby or young child is suffering from sickness and diarrhea.

Hay fever

Hay fever symptoms can be similar to those of a common cold. Antihistamine medicines can be prescribed by your doctor, and air purifiers in the house can help to reduce airborne irritants.

Headaches

A doctor should be seen for long-lasting, acute and recurring headaches, as they could be caused by another ailment. However, a rest in a quiet, and possibly darkened, room, a cold compress on the forehead and an analgesic will be sufficient to deal with most headaches.

Indigestion

This can be caused by eating too large a meal or rich and spicy foods, or by eating in a hurry or just before going to bed. For immediate relief take antacids. Alternatively, 2.5 ml/1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) dissolved in a glass of water will relieve indigestion.

Herbal teas may well sort out indigestion. Choose from the following. Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) relieves the effects of over-eating, and being in a stressed state. Lemon balm settles a churning stomach due to nervous indigestion, whether related to meals or not. Meadowsweet is good for acid indigestion, especially if accompanied by some looseness in the bowels. Peppermint (Meruha piperita) is good for indigestion coupled with flatulence and bloated abdomen, or even nausea. Also think of taking slippery elm (Minus fiduct) if indigestion pains are persistent, either 5 ml/1 tsp of the powder thoroughly blended in a cupful of water, or the pure tablets, with one or more meals, to soothe the stomach.
A warm compress of some essential oils, including chamomile or lavender, may give some relief. For mild indigestion, try gently massaging a 2 per cent dilution of either of these into the abdomen.



Influenza

The symptoms of influenza often include fever, aching muscles, nausea, headaches, a cough, a sore throat and a running nose. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection from causing additional problems. Otherwise, rest in bed, plenty of fluids and an analgesic: taken every 4 hours should help.

Note: the first symptoms of meningitis can be similar to those of influenza. If the symptoms shown are accompanied by vomiting, a stiff and sore neck and joints, a skin rash, bruising or some patchiness of the skin and an aversion to bright lights, call a doctor at once.

Insomnia

Irregular working hours, depression, stress or being in an unfamiliar room can lead to sleeplessness. A doctor can prescribe drugs to help, but try to restrict their use as it is easy to become dependent on them.

A milky drink before going to bed can be relaxing, avoid alcohol and stimulants, such as coffee and tea, as these will all only exacerbate the problem. A walk during the day in fresh air and a warm bath before going to bed may also help.

Measles

All children should be immunized against measles, but can suffer from the disease before then if they come into contact with an infected person. A blocked nose, fever and conjunctivitis are the first symptoms, followed a few days later by a red, blotchy rash spreading from the head down wards. Call your doctor to see whether the child should be examined. Otherwise, give plenty of fluids and paracetamol elixir to reduce the fever.

Mumps

This is a viral infection of the parotid glands, which are situated just in front of and below the ear. Discomfort and fever can be reduced by giving either paracetamol or aspirin, or paracetamol elixir to young children. The virus is usually infectious for up to 6 days before the swelling appears, and for 10 days after the onset of the swelling. Adult men can suffer from swollen testes and should visit a doctor.



Nausea and vomiting

The remedy of first choice is probably ginger (Zingher officinalis); either take frequent sips of a weak tea, or 10 drops of tincture in a little water, or chew a small piece of fresh ginger. Another possibility, say, for travel sickness, is to chew a little crystallized ginger, or drink flat ginger ale. Other potentially useful herbs to settle the stomach are chaitunnile (Chamomilla recurita), croon balm (Melissa officinalis) and peppermint (Mentha piperita); try weakish herb teas. All these herbs aid digestion and so can help to sort out the causes of nausea as well as the symptoms themselves.
Causes of nausea or vomiting can usually be linked to specific things, eating too much rich food, or drinking too much alcohol, anxiety or travel are common triggers. Continual feelings of nausea indicate greater disturbance; again this may be obvious as in 1110Minp, sickness of pregnancy. Where the cause is not obvious, and if symptoms are not quickly cleared up with self help, get medical advice as soon as possible. Children in particular can easily become dehydrated.

Occupational hazards

Many occupations involve excessive use of the voice, e.g. teaching, and sore throats are common place. The regular use of herbal gargles can ease this discomfort, and help you prevent loss of voice or an actual infection. Keep the throat moist by drinking liquids.

Parasites

At one time or another, most children and some adults suffer from parasites.
Fleas: are usually passed on to their host by cats, birds or other pets, or in infected bedding, carpets or upholstery. Treat animals with a veterinary insecticide. Where flea bites have occurred on your skin, use an antiseptic wash to prevent infection. Spray throughout the house with a flea killer and vacuum thoroughly.

Head lice: these are tiny brown insects with 6 legs. They feed on blood and lay eggs (known as nits) which are attached to the base of the hair shaft. They are usually found behind the ears and cause irritation. If head lice are detected, the whole family should be treated with insecticidal shampoo.

Tapeworm: eggs can be seen in feces. Consult your doctor, who will prescribe a suitable medicine.

Threadworms: live in the lower bowel and lay eggs around the anus, causing itchiness. The eggs are minute, but occasionally a fine, thread-like worm may be seen around the anus or on bedding. A doctor will prescribe a suitable medicine to eradicate them.

Ticks: these live in long grass and will latch on to humans and animals to suck blood. Remove with tweezers, using a rocking motion to release them then wipe the area with an antiseptic.

Sore throats

With increased airborne pollution, smoky, dry atmospheres in air-conditioned buildings and so on, sore throats are more and more common. The irritation can range from an annoying tickle to a rasping soreness, and may be linked to other infections. Where the throat inflammation, or pharyngitis, also extends down to the larynx, the voice may be affected.

If possible, use the following herbs as tinctures for gargling; if unavailable then use cooled infusions: agrimony (Agrimorda eupatoria), sage (Salviaofficinalis) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris) are all astringent, toning up the membranes, the latter two also being quite antiseptic. For a more powerful effect try using a tincture of myrrh (Cutraniphura mulmol), together with one or more of the others. If making infusions, add two liquorice sticks to give a more soothing effect, or else use marshmallow (Althea officinalis) leaf in equal amounts with the other herb(s).

With essential oils such as benzoin or thyme, use steam inhalations. One drop only of essential oil of lemon on2.5 ml(1/2, us!) of honey acts as a local antiseptic, as well as being soothing.