You might have heard that local children’s hospitals are being bombarded with cases of RSV, which stands for Respiratory Syncytial (sin-SISH-ul) Virus. RSV is a major source of respiratory infections in children and most cases are mild, similar to a common cold. Some numbers of children become quite ill, though, and require hospitalization.
This recent outbreak is presenting higher numbers of kids than usual who require hospital care. Let’s talk about what can be done to help. And ps, these steps will also help you all to be stronger as we move into flu season, so this applies to grownups too.
Kid’s (and adult’s) microbiomes have suffered with COVID policies
Part of what creates a robust immune system and microbiome (the balance of bacteria and viruses in the body) is being around other people and even fighting off an occasional cold. With kids being out of school and learning remotely at home, they haven’t had as much opportunity to develop that robust microbiome and immune system.
Masking kids & adults has also had a huge impact on their respiratory tracts, causing them to re-breathe mouth bacteria and not get the fresh air that is needed. Paper masks have been shown to harbor chemicals that are not good for the lungs, either. Oxygen levels are reduced when masked and many kids were wearing masks for many hours each day. Additionally, many commercial hand sanitizers contain ingredients that harm the microbiome, and heaven knows, many kids & adults were exposed to heavy hand sanitizer use. This is the perfect storm to create vulnerability!
So here we are- what can we do to remedy this?
The best thing we can do is work to strengthen these young ones’ immune systems. (And our own!)
Start with a healthy diet, incorporating fresh foods and avoiding processed and fast foods.
Keeping sugar intake low is one of the most effective dietary steps you can take! With Halloween around the corner, I recommend allowing your child to pick a couple of pieces of favorite candy and leave the rest out for the “Switch Witch”. This concept is similar to the Tooth Fairy or Santa. The bags of candy are left out overnight and the Switch Witch takes it and leaves some cool toys, art supplies, etc, in exchange for the candy. Be sure you toss all that nasty sugar, too, parents! You do NOT want to lower your own immune system right when flu season and the holidays are upon us.
Aside from candy, be sure your child does not consume soda, Gatorade-type drinks, or too much juice, as these are all high in sugar. A product like Emergen-C (a powdered Vit C drink) is tasty and provides an immune-boosting dose of Vitamin C. Health food stores have stevia-flavored alternatives for sodas and healthier versions of sports drinks, too.
Adding vitamins can help your immune system, too. Everyone should be taking an appropriate dose of Vitamin D3 (800 IU daily for kids, 400 IU for babies, and 2,000 to 5,000 IU for adults.) Check with your health practitioner to confirm what dose is right for you and your kids. Add a good multivitamin and a probiotic for gut health to round out your program. For kids, I like Mary Ruth’s brand vitamins.
How about an answer for hand sanitizer? Dr. Bronner’s makes an effective lavender hand sanitizer and you can also make one yourself. Use 30 drops of lavender oil in a 3 oz spray bottle, filling the rest with water. Shake and spray on hands and public surfaces, like grocery cart handles. This lavender spray was used by one of my clients years ago when H1N1 caused absenteeism in schools up to ½ of the school population! My client was a teacher’s aide and sprayed her classroom’s hands and desk surfaces twice a day with this homemade lavender sanitizer. She had almost no kids out sick, even kids whose siblings had contracted H1N1!! The difference between her classroom and the rest of the school was so dramatic that the principal came to see what she was doing. Don’t underestimate the power of what nature provides us. Neither of these options harm your microbiome the way the commercial ones do.
Please spread the word
I often think to myself, “If only people knew!” about such simple, yet powerful steps and habits that Traditional Naturopathy offers. Will you help me spread the word? It’s as simple as forwarding this article to someone who could benefit or just sharing the information in a conversation. Thank you and I hope you and those you love enjoy a healthy fall!