General tips for Immunity
- Breastfeeding: breast milk contains lots of immune boosting ingredients
- Wholesome foods: fruits, vegetables, multi-grains, protein
- Avoid/Minimize, especially when sick: cold/cooling foods (dairy), sugar and processed or ‘junk’ foods
- Getting enough rest, exercise and fresh air
- Good hygiene (hand washing is most effective way to stop/reduce the spread of germs)
- Reduce stress/ being in a stressful environment
What is a fever?
- Fever is defined as a temperature above 38 C/100.4 F
- If the fever is over 40C/104 F then you should see a doctor
Guidelines for Dealing with a Fever
- Children under 3 months of age don’t usually get a fever. If they do develop a fever, they should be seen by a doctor.
- If over 3 months of age you can watch and wait. Fevers can be beneficial in destroying the virus/bacteria causing illness. However, if your child’s fever is causing you a lot of distress and worry, then talk to your doctor.
Recognizing a Sick Child
Generally Sick Child
- Doesn’t look/feel well
- Acts “different” than usual
- Doesn’t want to eat
- Sleeps a lot
- Has common symptoms of illness
Really Sick Child
- (S)He stops playing
- Is “lethargic”
- Has unusual or worsening symptoms
- Doesn’t get better after a reasonable amount of time for a given illness
- Is not drinking fluids
- Is not responding well
- Has seizures
- Is losing weight or a lot of body fluids
- Mom (or dad) feels that “something is wrong”
Warning Signs of Very Sick Kids
- Persistent fever (>3-5 days) with no improvement
- Stiff neck
- Forceful vomiting
- Severe/unremitting headache
- Incoherence or unresponsiveness
- Deterioration of symptoms
- Visual disturbance
- Severe facial pain
- Painful breathing; difficulty breathing
- Persistent sore throat (>3-5 days) with no improvement
- Drainage (fluid) from the ear
- Dehydration; unwillingness to accept fluids
- Any signs of illness/infection in children under 6 months old
- Signs of serious illness: such as measles, whooping cough, pneumonia, and meningitis
What to do when Your Child is Sick
- Generally light foods. Broths and soups are best with some steamed vegetables, fruit or soupy grains based on the child’s hunger level.
- Plenty of fluid, especially water and tea, to prevent dehydration
- Avoid sugar and refined or processed foods
- 1 tbsp Honey (avoid if less than 1 year)
- Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Essential Fatty Acids, Protein
- Tepid (neither hot nor cold) baths are good for bringing down fever
- Don’t use ice baths or alcohol to bring down fever. This can actually cause temperature to increase instead of decrease.
- “Magic socks”: take a pair of cotton socks and wet them with slightly cool water, and wring them out as best as possible. Then place on child’s feet and cover with another pair of thicker, woolen socks before bed. Leave on overnight.
Signs to Watch For:
- Irritable, pulling on their ear/scratching at their ear
- Ear may appear red and slightly swollen
- Fluid may drain from the ear
- If child is talking, may complain of pain
- Other possible signs include: fever, headache, cough, runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea
What to Do:
- Avoid allergenic/inflammatory foods: peanuts, dairy, soy, wheat, corn, oranges, tomatoes
- Generally light foods. Broths and soups are best with some steamed vegetables, or fruit based on the child’s hunger level.
- Plenty of fluid, especially water and tea, to prevent dehydration (particularly if fever is present)
- Ear drops: olive oil infused with garlic. Let garlic pieces sit in olive oil overnight, and use a dropper to place drops in ear. Some companies (eg. St. Francis Herbs) make ear oils for purchase in health stores.
- Supplements: Vitamin C, Probiotics, Zinc, B vitamins and cod liver oil (Vitamin A)
Signs to Watch For:
- fever (often high)
- extreme tiredness
- dry cough
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle aches
- Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur, but are more common in children than adults
What to Do:
- Similar treatment as discussed in Fever section, especially Diet and Bath
- Teas: Chamomile, Spearmint, Elder, Lemonbalm, Mullein, Ginger
- Natural cough syrup as needed, preferably at night time so they can sleep but can still cough up anything they need to get out of their system during the day.
Note: Specific treatment suggestions are best discussed with your Naturopathic doctor as each child and illness is often unique!
1. "Fever in Infants and Young Children: Problems in Infants and Very Young Children: Merck Manual Home Edition." Fever in Infants and Young Children: Problems in Infants and Very Young Children: Merck Manual Home Edition. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/childrens_health_issues/problems_in_infants_and_very_young_children/fever_in_infants_and_young_children.html>.
2. Romm, A. (Oct 2012). Winterize Your Kids: Optimizing Health with Herbs, Diet and Common Sense. Webinar Notes.
3. Schmidt, Michael A. Healing Childhood Ear Infections: Prevention, Home Care, and Alternative Treatment. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 1996. Print.
4. Skowron, JM. 2009. Fundamentals of Naturopathic Pediatrics. CCNM Press. Print.
5. Solomonian. L. (2012) Getting Sick Well. Unpublished lecture notes. CCNM.
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I am a Naturopathic Doctor and Doula providing care in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. I have a passion for helping people with their health issues and improving the birth experience for Moms, and their babies. I also have a life long love affair with soccer, curling, and the alto saxophone.