Summer is coming to a close, much to the dismay of most children and the joy of some parents. The end of summer means going back to school, and for many families going back to school means the start of cold and flu season. Children are exposed to millions of germs at school, resulting in 8-12 colds per year for children in day care or elementary school according to health.com. It is only a matter of time before these germs turn into a day off spent home sick in bed, and possibly spreading the illness to the rest of the family. Days off from school and work cost the US economy nearly $576 billion per year, according to Forbes.
There are ways to prepare for another school year and protect your kids from the germs they will encounter at school. Rather than reaching into the medicine cabinet to treat your child’s symptoms, here are a few ways to boost your child’s immune system and prevent illness.
Natural Ways to Prevent Cold and Flu
There are many natural remedies that I recommend and prescribe for treating a cold or flu, but here are a few suggestions for preventing cold and flu by boosting your child’s immune system.
- Keep your kids playing outside, during recess and when they get home from school. Continue playing together in the backyard, raking leaves, or encouraging them to join a sports team they might like. Spending time outside can reduce the instances of cold and flu your child faces by up to 25%.
- With kids coming and going from classrooms all day, sharing supplies, snacks, bathrooms, etc., germs can spread very quickly. Healthy habits at home can translate into healthier kids at school, so remember to practice lots of hand washing and other healthy behaviors, like sneezing into a tissue or an elbow.
- One final suggestion for boosting kid’s immunity during cold and flu season is to get enough rest. Tired bodies are the most vulnerable to germs and bacteria. Making sure kids get enough sleep is certainly a challenge with school, sports, and homework, to name a few. Kids who get enough rest nearly double their chances of avoiding catching a cold or the flu during the chilly winter months and the academic year.
When Sickness Happens
If your child does come home from school with cold and flu symptoms, don’t worry – there are natural ways to alleviate the symptoms of their illness
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! When kids are dehydrated, their cold or flu can last longer. Encouraging a drink of water or fluid once every 15-30 minutes can be very helpful to remain properly hydrated. Try to refrain from sugary drinks like soda, juice, and even Gatorade. Coconut water is a wonderful choice for kids as it also replaces electrolytes. Try making popsicles out of coconut water by adding some throat soothing honey and their favorite fruit.
- Make sure they are getting enough sleep and are eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. A well balanced diet in addition to rest can not only prevent illnesses, but keep them from getting worse if your child is already sick. Steer clear of mucous producing food such as bananas, citrus fruits, and dairy products. Sipping on broth provides nourishment and comfort.
- Ginger, honey, garlic, and lemon are all ingredients that can naturally help clear up symptoms of a cold or the flu. Try making a warm cup of chamomile tea with honey and lemon for your child. The chamomile will help calm your child and even help with fever; the lemon in the tea will aid in the body’s natural detoxifying process, while the honey will soothe a sore throat or a barking cough. The vapor from a warm drink can alleviate headaches and sinus congestion, while garlic can help boost the immune system to kick that nasty cold or flu virus to the curb.
Going back to school can be the beginning of the cold and flu season, but if you take preventative precautions, it is possible for those pesky colds and awful flus to skip your household this season.