With the cold, dry weather upon us the winter bugs are thriving. Here’s some advice on how to manage the highs and lows of the cold and flu season and tips on how to speed healing if you do get sick.
The “highs” – high temperature/fever
- Fever is the body’s natural response to a foreign invader (such as a cold/flu virus).
- The definition of fever changes depending on the child’s age (a fever in an infant can be a normal temp for a 4 year old).
- Ear thermometers provide an easy and accurate way to measure temperature in children. New technology allows you to input a child’s age and get results in seconds with colour coded fever indicator to help parents understand the results.
- Give extra fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Opt for a rehydration solution that contains electrolytes and is low in sugar and free of artificial flavours and colours.
- Apply cool compress on forehead.
- If giving fever-reducing medication adhere to dosage guidelines for weight/age; avoid using aspirin in children.
- Consult with your doctor if your child is less than 6 months old or has other symptoms such as vomiting, rash, difficulty breathing or is lethargic.
The “lows” – low humidity
- In the winter, humidity levels can drop as low as 10% – that is lower than the Sahara desert!
- Dry indoor air can make it difficult to breath when you are sick, worsening symptoms of cough and congestion.
- Using a vaporizer or humidifier can add moisture to the air, reduces the survival of viruses on surfaces and makes breathing easier.
- Essential oils such as eucalyptus or using a Vapopad with your vaporizer can help clear congestion and ease cough.
Symptom Relief and Recovery
- Over the counter medications such as decongestants and antihistamines can help with symptom management, but they do not impact recovery. Many of these products carry the risk of serious side effects and can interact with other medications.
- Echinacea can shorten the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms and can also be taken during the cold/flu season for prevention. A recent in-vitro study shows promising results against coronaviruses, including CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Human research is underway to confirm the potential benefits against coronaviruses.
- Elderberry has antioxidant and antiviral properties that support immune health. Elderberry can also help alleviate cold and flu symptoms and speed recovery from viral infections.
- Both Echinacea and Elderberry are safe for those 2 and above and can be found in a range of formats including liquid, chewables and capsules.
- Vitamin C won’t cure a cold but it does support the immune system and can help to reduce symptom severity. Supplements can help bridge nutritional gaps for picky eaters and replenish levels in those under stress. Look for a formula that is a buffered (easy on the stomach) and offers 24 hour immune system support.
- Vitamin D is also important for immune health. Research has found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and both the risk and severity of infections. Since it’s very difficult to get enough of this nutrient from diet and sun exposure, supplements are advisable.
- Chicken soup and warm beverages (herbal teas) can also provide soothing relief and nutrients to support recovery.
- Natural honey is great to soothe a sore throat and calm a dry cough.