WHAT I DO WHEN MY KID HAS A BASIC COLD (PART 2: TREATMENT)
Okay, so inevitably it happens that your kid comes across a virus then loses sleep and then eats a gummy worm and he or she gets sick. Now what do you do? I want to give you 10 recommendations you can do to help your child feel better while they are fighting off what normally is a virus and shorten the days of symptoms. Normally with these methods, our kids feel better in about 2-3 days and can normally sleep through the night and function pretty well during the day even as they are going through it.
DOUBLE THE WHOLE FOODS SUPPLEMENT
For all the reasons discussed above, a whole food supplement can be a great resource when it comes to getting your kids better when they are sick. Please understand that this recommendation is only for supplements that are only whole foods based as some vitamins actually contain trace amounts of cyanide, that when overdosed can actually cause poisoning which is why those vitamins are in a tamper-proof bottle. Since we use Juice Plus which, once again, is completely whole foods based, the only side effect of increased use might be my kid running to the bathroom every 10 minutes from all the fruits and veggies clearing out their system. On the flip side, I like to take advantage of Juice Plus to give them a little extra Vitamin C while they are ill to help them get better a little quicker.
OSCILLOCOCCINUM HOMEOPATHIC TABS
The premise behind homeopathic medicines is that by providing the body with a super diluted form of a similar substance, you can activate your body’s immune system to fight pathogens kind of like the way we use vaccines. For example, Oscillococcinum (weird right) has a highly diluted mixture of a substance called Anas Barbariae that, when recognized by the body, causes your body to naturally fight flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, and body aches. Although Oscillococcinum is generally used for Influenza, I find that it works well with even the common cold and it especially helps with those symptoms of fever, aches, and chills that are common both with the cold and the flu.
Elderberry is fruit and a berry with a large of amount of antioxidant power. It’s particularly useful for upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. This is one of those supplements I find that both helps symptoms and shorten the duration of illness. Plus, it tastes really sweet which the kids love. For optimal results, take 1 teaspoon before bed.
Manuka honey has all the properties of being antibacterial and immune-boosting. Manuka is considerably higher in enzymes and B vitamins than regular honey. We use Manuka as a first aid treatment for colds (there have been several times where we’ve given the kids Manuka honey when they complained of just a sniffle or a sore throat and they’ve never actually ended up with illness.) The same goes for adults, by the way.
Please do not give this to children under the age of 2 based because of a small but possible risk for Botulism (this is a universal recommendation for honey). Also, do not give Manuka to those with diabetes. Look for a Manuka UMF rating of at least 10+ (if not 15+) and do not exceed 1 teaspoon per day.
Zinc is known for its immune supporting properties and is widely used in over the counter cough/cold formulas. This is one of those supplements that I find makes a big difference in whether or not my kids get better quicker. We use Cold Eeze normally which comes in dissolvable tablets or a spray (very convenient.)
We love using Essential Oils for lots of symptoms from difficult sleeping, to aches and pains. Some can be safely applied to kids from a young age, especially when the kids aren’t quite at Manuka honey stage, and especially when a kid is feeling a little nauseous and you’re worried they might vomit up anything you give them. We like to use a few drops of Lavender Oil around the neck and chest at least twice a day and especially before bed. Peppermint, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus oils should be diffused through the air and will help regulate breathing if your child is experiencing congestion. Essential Oils are super concentrated formulations and much more effective than other formulations such as sprays or creams. A lavender farmer (Carousel Farms in Bucks County) from a local farmer’s market explained to me that Essential Oils are like 40 bunches of lavender squeezed into a tiny bottle. I also recommend buying locally if you can since much of over the counter versions are diluted down with “filler” oils. Whole Foods carries some decent oils if you’re in a crunch.
COUGH SYRUP – NO!
Everyone should be familiar with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation not, (let me reinforce the word NOT) to give over the counter cough/cold medicines to kids under the age of 6 unless otherwise recommended by a pediatrician or family medicine physician due to the risk of let’s just say bad outcomes. That having been said, no one likes to hear they’re kids coughing, sneezing, or see them snotty. Plus coughing at night keeps everyone up including the ill child and makes it even harder for the child to get better. The best thing to do is to make an herbal tea with squeezed lemon, honey, and a drop of peppermint oil. Wait until it is at an acceptable temperature before giving it to your child. It should be warm, but NOT hot!
We all should know the importance of making sure that there is proper flow of your body’s lymph, the fluid that transports white blood cells throughout your body and cleans up the waste from your bodies’ tissues. You can feel your lymph nodes when you are sick by palpating your neck and feeling those bumps that pop up and you can move around. Lymph tends to move slower when we are less active and in the colder months. Poor lymph flow can also make it harder to fight infection. Massage therapy can be a great way to get your kids’ lymphatic system to flow better. That doesn’t mean you have to send them to Massage Envy or Hand and Stone the next time they are sick. Massage their neck, shoulders, back, and tummy area with your strokes aimed towards the heart around the neck or in a circular motion if you are on the abdomen or back. We might combine this with essential oils or even Eucalyptus rubs (like vapor rub) which can add to the therapy at the same time.
NASAL SALINE AND HUMIDIFICATION
This is another one of those recommendations that you’ve likely heard before but is still very important. It’s helpful to understand the process that happens in the body when we’re sick. First, there is inflammation, which is from the virus. Inflammation leads to increased mucus production, which leads to snotty, runny noses, coughing, and congestion. Then you have this cycle where respiration only happens through the mouth, which dehydrates us even more. The way to combat that inflammation in the nasal passages is by use of nasal saline and humidification. Saline is just salt water, which can moisten the inner lining of the nose. We use Simply Saline, which comes as a mist that our kids get a kick out of when they get sprayed. It even comes in a baby version with a less intense mist. We also like to get the air moist at night during sleep and using a humidifier about 2-4 feet from the child’s head can be a great way to do that.
REST IS BEST
It wasn’t until we were parents and our oldest was about 2 years old that we discovered PBS did a spin off of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood with the show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. The animated cartoon gives helpful lessons to the kids like “What to do when you’re sick.” They even have a little song, “When you’re sick, rest is best, rest is best.” It would be remiss if we didn’t advocate rest when your kid is sick. As we like to get our kids to bed extra early during their sick days and use Lavender oil which we find helps them rest even better in addition to the other recommendations above like the humidifier and a saline spray.
The takeaway here is Don’t Do Nothing. While you’re allowing your kids to get a little rest, use these 10 recommendations while they are sick and you’ll find they can get better in a shorter amount of time, and even battle the symptoms while going through it.