Dear Dr. Malik,
My 7 year old son has started school again and it wasn’t long before he began sniffling. It seems to me like he’s always coming down with some sort of runny nose or sore throat. I know it’s nothing that needs antibiotics and I would rather avoid the medicine anyway. There’s got to be a better way to keep him healthy as during the summers he does just fine!
Mom to 3 Young Kids, Newport-Center
Dear Mom to 3 Young Kids,
The joys of parenthood are limitless! The single best advice anyone can give you or the kids is the same one we use in the clinic and hospital; wash your hands. Children are often blamed for carrying and spreading germs. That’s not hard to believe. Their hands are all over the place, including their noses and mouths. Hands should be washed every time the kids come into the house as well as before each meal. That alone will significantly decrease the likelihood of transmitting or receiving infections.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can really do to stop them from getting sick. That’s actually a part of growing up and of developing a complete and robust immune system. By far, the majority of those times it will be a viral infection, with no cure other than the best two medicines that exist out there; sleep and time.
Regardless of viral or bacterial there are some proven home remedies that can do wonders. Good-old fashion chicken soup (when made from true chicken broth) contains amino acids from bone marrow that directly feed our germ fighting immune cells. Not to mention the heat of a warm broth can kill bacteria and prevent viruses from replicating. The steam and vapors can soothe airways, lubricating them and breaking up mucus. Balanced, healthy diets will provide loads of germ fighting vitamins and minerals. High-sugar diets tend to make the immune system sluggish.
Saline is also a great weapon for fighting illness. Salt-water can be gargled to clear the throat or sprayed into the nostrils to wash out the nasal passages. Salt kills bacteria almost upon contact. It can also lubricate to soothe dried passages while at the same time washing out phlegm and snot. Neti pots have been used for thousands of years as a means of sinus and nasal health and are proven by recent studies to be effective.
Always remind your children to cough or sneeze into their elbows. Don’t forget to get them their flu shots either as that is much worse than just the common cold. Finally, there are some times when a simple infection is not so simple. Sore throats can be Strep and that requires antibiotics. Pain in the ears should always be checked too. If your child has been sick too long or appears too ill have his or her doctor do a thorough check. It’s better to be on the safe side.
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