The Kid Vs. The Cold: A Parent’s Guide to Seasonal Health
Ah, the joys of winter: snowball fights, toboggan races, and snow angels. Unfortunately, ‘tis also the season for runny noses, scratchy throats, and tickly coughs. On average, a child will catch 5 to 10 colds each year. No need to panic, these brief bouts of illness actually help to strengthen the immune system. So, although complete prevention is not realistic, there are measures that can be taken to ensure that the illnesses are short-lived and your little one is back guarding his snow fort pronto!
- A healthy diet is always the best place to start. Offer a rainbow of colourful fruits and veggies and serve up warm soups and stews. Increase the immune-boosting power of your foods by cooking with lots of garlic or adding a stick of astragals root to your soup broth as it simmers.
- Limit sugar intake, as it has been shown that sugar can suppress the immune system response for up to 8 hours after it is consumed!
- Consider supplementing the diet with vitamins D and C, and a probiotic.
- Daily usage of a saline nose spray will help to keep nasal passages lubricated and at a pH level that will help to inhibit bacteria.
- Think about adding a seasonal supplement to further boost and balance the body’s defence systems: an herbal tincture containing astragalus (e.g., Deep Immune by St Francis), or a chewable tablet containing plant sterols and sterolins (e.g., Moducare for Kids) are both good options.
- Ensure that your child gets lots of rest and stays well hydrated.
- Avoid dairy, which can increase mucous. Try to avoid conventional cold medications, which merely suppress or mask the symptoms.
- Instead, help the body to heal itself. A well-matched homeopathic remedy will help to reduce the length and severity of the illness. Individual, symptom-specific remedies are best, but combination remedies (e.g., Coryzalia by Boiron or R6 by Dr. Reckeweg for cold; Stodal, or R8 for cough) are another possibility.
- Replenish and balance the body’s minerals with tissue salts: Ferr Phos, Kali Mur, Kali Sulph and Nat Mur can be taken individually or as a combination (e.g., KIDZ Minerals’ Cough & Cold Relief), based on your child’s symptoms.
- During the course of the illness, discontinue any astragalus-containing product, and replace it with an echinacea formulation (e.g., Echinasera for Kids) to fight the virus.
- To soothe a sore throat, nothing beats honey... served in a warm drink, as a lozenge, or straight up on a spoon.
- Add some essential oils (e.g., eucalyptus and tea tree) to a diffuser or nebulizer and send your kid to bed in cozy pyjamas and...
- Wet socks! (This age-old remedy helps to reduce congestion: soak a pair of cotton socks in cold water, wring them out and apply them to the child’s feet. Cover them with a pair of dry wool socks. Leave them on until morning, or until dry.)
Once the cold symptoms disappear, discontinue echinacea and switch back to the prophylactic astragalus. Keep up the healthy eating and vitamins and get back to the winter fun. More than likely, another cold is somewhere on the horizon...but with these tips and tricks you will be well armed to fight back. Now, defending yourself against a snowball attack? That one is up to you...