Parents take heart. Contrary to popular belief, there is plenty you can do when your child gets a cold or the flu. Treatment for both illnesses typically consists of drugs to decrease symptoms, bed rest, antibiotics and patience. Natural medicine, on the other hand, is brimming with remedies to treat your sick youngster and suggestions on prevention.
Most of you are too familiar with the symptoms of the common cold: runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat, headache, fever and a rundown feeling. Slightly less common, but still a winter regular is influenza. The flu differs from a cold by its abrupt onset, shorter duration, and more pronounced fever, chills, muscle aches and fatigue. When you take the right steps, you can prevent or at the very least lessen the misery you and your child go through during the flu and cold season.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
The great thing about kids is their resilient immune systems. Children can withstand a lot more dents in their lifestyle armor than adults before they get sick. This doesn't mean you should condone unhealthful habits for your children. The younger a child learns sound eating practices, and the importance of exercise, sleep and care for his body, the better. Also, promoting a healthy lifestyle for a child places him on solid ground for the future.
Many of the health principles that apply to grownups are also fitting for young ones. A wholesome diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, with enough protein foods like dried beans, legumes, lean meats, fish and fowl, and low in sugar, salt and fat is best. Eating a lot of sugar and fat depresses your child's immunity and opens him up to more illness.
Most parents complain that their children won't eat these foods, and aren't sure how to introduce a nutritional plan. The secret lies in starting your child out on these foods early so they're a normal part of his meals. If you're trying to change the eating habits of an older child, it's more difficult but can be done. Making gradual changes in his diet, for example switching from regular jam to a sugarless fruit spread might work. Try disguising healthy foods by including them in your child's favorite dishes. Vegetables on pizza, chicken fajitas on whole wheat tortillas or cookies made with barley flour are all ways to push your child's diet to the healthy side.
As with adults, staying well means regular exercise. Fortunately for kids, physical activity is not usually a problem. If your child likes to play outside, ride her bike or play sports you're set. However, during the last couple of decades children have become more sedentary. Television, and more recently, video games are in large part responsible. Besides being sit-still activities, TV in particular promotes junk-food-snacking. Both are also indoor pastimes depriving your child of fresh air and vitamin D rich sunshine.
Your health habits also affect your child. Besides being a role model in the eating and exercise department, your cigarette, cigar or pipe smoking harms your youngster. Irrefutable evidence points to the ill provoking effects of second-hand smoke. Children of smokers are prone to more respiratory infections, ear infections, colds and sickness in general.
Finally, exposure to germs is a factor in illness especially if you're rundown. Children in daycare or attending school full-time tend to come down with colds and flu more often than kids at home. For many families, putting their children in a child-care center is unavoidable. School, unless you elect to teach your children at home (and many people do), is normal. The best defense against sickness in these circumstances is building your child's resistance.