Sniffles, coughing, fever, upset stomach. These are signs parents watch out for in their kids to determine if they’re getting sick. Sometimes, especially during flu season, it seems as if all children are coming down with something. While getting sick occasionally is common, it should be a red flag if your child is getting every cold or bug that comes their way.
If your child is in school, it can be hard to keep them away from germs. Fortunately, there are steps you can take at home to build up their immune system and keep them healthy year-round.
Food Is Key
Children with food allergies are more likely to get sick because their immune systems are already compromised. Take your child to the doctor to get any intolerances or allergies diagnosed, and then help your son or daughter avoid those foods. If your child has no food allergies but is still getting sick constantly, look at their diet. They may be eating more additives and preservatives than their body can handle. Limit processed foods and focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and lean meats. Fruits and veggies in particular contain immunity-boosting phytonutrients, such as vitamin C. These phytonutrients can increase the body’s production of white blood cells that fight infection as well as antibodies that coat cell surfaces and block viruses. Studies show that these phytonutrients not only help in childhood, but can also protect adults against cancer and heart disease.1
Pump Up the Probiotics
Not all bacteria are bad! Probiotics are a helpful form of bacteria that occur naturally in our guts. They protect our digestive tracts, help us digest food and protect us from incoming viruses. When your gut gets off balance, you’re less likely to be able to fight off infections and you may get sick more often. Probiotic supplements contain live bacteria and can improve the function of your gut and immune system. An easy, kid-friendly way to consume probiotics is in yogurt. Look for brands that are low in sugar and have a simple ingredient list. If your child is a more adventurous eater, try kombucha or sauerkraut. There are also chewable tablets and gummies that children can take as supplements.
It’s not just parents who are overwhelmed. Kids also deal with stress from school, extracurriculars and even day-to-day life. Children respond just as adults do – their cortisol and adrenaline levels rise. When stress hormones are high, immune response is low. You can help relieve some of this pressure and keep your kids healthy by allowing them to have downtime when they can play, express themselves creatively and just rest.
Catch Some Zzzs
Sleep is crucial for many aspects of our health. If we don’t get enough sleep, we can struggle with depression, heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Many adults can survive off just a few hours of sleep per night, but the optimal amount is seven to nine hours. Kids need even more sleep than that. Doctors recommend preschoolers sleep 11 to 12 hours each night, while school-aged children and teens need nine to 10 hours.2 This much sleep can be hard to get with our busy schedules, but you need to make sleep a priority for your family, especially if your child is sick. A lack of sleep can contribute to a weakened immune system and make them more susceptible to illness. Establish a bedtime routine, and stick with it. Keep electronics out of your child’s room if possible, or limit their screen time before bed to make sure they can fall asleep easily.
Many parents will ask their child’s pediatrician to write a prescription for an antibiotic every time they get sick. This is a mistake. Antibiotics only treat illnesses caused by bacteria, and many childhood sicknesses are caused by viruses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says taking an antibiotic for a virus can do more harm than good by increasing your risk of getting an infection later that is resistant to antibiotics.3 Ask your doctor if an antibiotic is really needed to treat your child’s illness, or if it can run its course.
Complete Care for Your Child
Sometimes you do everything you can to keep your child healthy, and they still get sick. If they just can’t kick the latest bug, Complete Care can help. We offer a variety of services, from quick treatment in our urgent care facilities to long-term care in our hospitals. With more than 25 locations across Texas and Colorado, we are ready to provide prompt, comprehensive and compassionate care for your family.
Our advanced technology ensures we can diagnose your child’s illness accurately and determine the best treatment. Our doctors, nurses and specialists are committed to delivering quality medical care in a friendly environment. Find the location closest to you and put your trust in us the next time your child gets sick.