With fall and winter just around the corner, many parents are looking for ways to support and encourage a healthy immune system in their children and avoid prescription medications such as antibiotics and steroids. Many things can increase susceptibility to colds and flu, particularly during fall and winter. Less time spent in the sunshine (think vitamin D), sugary sweets at our fingertips around the holidays, and more social time spent indoors, which leads to germ-sharing. Physical stress, emotional stress, and poor diet are all things that can increase susceptibility. There are hundreds of different cold viruses that can cause cold symptoms—preschoolers can have up to 10 colds a year!
What to Do
It takes a well-rounded approach to combat those gnarly cold viruses and give your child’s immune system a boost. First and foremost, fuel your child with healthy foods! Nutrition is key. We hear this often, but how many people are sitting down and making a plan to actually accomplish it! You can do it!
Incorporate warm soups with organic bone broth, veggies, and healthy fats to nourish your growing child. Limit sugars and dairy as they can promote inflammation and impede healing—this really does matter.
Astragalus root is a wonderful immune boosting herb. You can even add it to your soup for a warm and comforting dish! Or you can use a liquid dropper of this herb from a trusted herbal company like Gaia Herbs or Herbs for Kids. Usually a full dropper a day for elementary-aged kids and half a dropper for preschoolers. Chase it with a little juice! This is a great herb for prevention (discontinue if and when a fever presents).
Liquid elderberry can be used as a supportive measure against cold and flu with its antioxidant and immune boosting properties. Many children enjoy the flavor as well because it tastes sweeter like a berry.
Keep in mind, with so much of the immune system stemming from the gut, probiotics are a great way to promote immune system function. Talk with your doctor about which strains may be best for your child during cold and flu season.
When Your Child Gets Sick
Here are a few tips to help if your little one does come down with a cold virus.
- If coughing and post nasal drip have caused irritation and discomfort to the throat, try slippery elm tea or a tincture that you can find at a local health foods store.
- You can also have your child sip a warm tea with chamomile and herbs such as cinnamon and ginger to help them feel less congested.
- Provide a quiet room for rest and time in the sunshine can be very healing.
- Since children with fever can easily become dehydrated and constipated, be sure to encourage drinking fluids throughout the day. Have them sip on a hydration drink like Ultima Replinisher, instead of a sugary sports drink with artificial ingredients and dyes, will help with their hydration needs because it contains a balance of all the important electrolytes, plus support minerals for optimal hydration. A good rule of thumb is to be sure your child is urinating every 2-3 hours.
- If your child has high fever (103 or higher), ear pain, sore throat, neck pain or a headache, have them seen by their doctor.
Focusing on eating well, natural immune boosting measures including rest and quiet time, along with plenty of hand-washing, can go a long way in preventing colds and flu this season.
|Stephanie Finn is a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Registered Nurse at the CentreSpring MD. She is dedicated to providing compassionate and holistic healthcare and promoting pediatric wellness.
Email email@example.com to schedule a visit with Stephanie.