Tis the season for the flu, and many of us are crossing our fingers that we can avoid the illness this year. "The signs of influenza are consistent with past years: red eyes, red lips, muscle aches and of course high fever," says Dr. Frank Lipman in New York City. "To ease your stress, here are a few tips to help your child weather the flu this year."
Here are his tips for keeping yourself and your family flu-free!
1. Extra fluids: This is perhaps the most important first step in protecting your child. The immune system doesn't work efficiently when it's dry. Make sure your kids drink a minimum of 5 glasses of water/electrolyte fluids per day (more if they're traveling). Children require even more fluids whenever they have fever. Warm fluids like soups and teas are best. Avoid ice-cold drinks.
2. Turn down the heat: Dry artificial indoor heat damages the natural defenses of the respiratory system making your child more susceptible to invasion by viruses like the flu.
3. Avoid drafts: Dress your child properly for abrupt changes in temperature especially when going outside. This can shock the immune system and make it work let effectively.
4. Wash your hands! Germs are everywhere and kids love to put their hands in their mouths. Good hand washing is the best prevention against picking up unwanted viruses.
5. Get enough sleep! We are all-sleep deprived in this country. Sleep allows the immune system time to regenerate it's resilient powers to protect us. Make this a priority during flu season.
6. Vitamin D3: This is perhaps the most important supplement to give your children during flu season. I have found kids with higher vitamin D levels tend to have milder symptoms if they get the flu. 1000- 2000u per day (comes in drops for kids).
7. Probiotics are the good guys! Adding a mixed product of lactobacillus and bifidophilus can help your child's natural defenses against infection. Babies under 1 year old can get 5 billion organisms per day, children 1-5 years old can get 10 billion, and those older than 5 years old can get 20 billion per day.
8. Vitamin C: Young children (under 5) can take 250mg twice a day and older children can take 500mg twice a day.
9. Other helpful supplements to strengthen your child's immune system include:
Zinc: Children under the age of 4 can take 5mg daily and older children and adults can take 10mg a day.
Elderberry: Young children can take 1 teaspoon daily, and adults and older children can take 2 capsules daily.
Selenium: Children under 1 year old can safely take around 50mcg daily, children 1-4 years old can take 100-125mcg, children over 4 years old and adults can take 200mcg daily.
10. I also recommend "Windbreaker", one of the Kan herb company's "Gentle Warriors" Chinese herbs that were designed specifically for children by my teacher Efrem Korngold to help manage upper respiratory colds and make the natural defense system more resilient.
11. If your child gets the flu, you should contact your pediatrician for advice. "Tamiflu" is often recommended to shorten the course of illness. I recommend having homeopathic "Oscillococcinum" (boiron) on hand. Each small vial contains little sugar pellets (containing lactose) that are most effective if allowed to dissolve under the tongue. Three doses a day for 2 days is the recommended amount. For small children, you can dissolve the pellets in about 1⁄2 teaspoon of warm water, and then give this slowly, a few drops at a time so that it there is more contact with the oral lining. As with any homeopathic remedy, it is most effective when given away from food, herbs, or strong flavors like mint or cinnamon in toothpaste. Start it at the first sign of flu.