Back to School Survival Tips: Part 3 – Immune Boosters and Keeping Away the Cooties

Friends with school-age children dread the first signs of a sick child, or worse yet, the call from school that a communicable illness is making the rounds.

Here are some timely tips to keep your family healthy this school year

  • Prevention is the best cure: Teach the importance of good hygiene practices. No sharing drinks, hats or food, coughing and sneezing into elbows and frequent hand washing are some of the best tools you have to stave off illness.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential to fight off infection. Our body increases immune function and heals sick or damaged tissue while we sleep.
  • Nutrition: Decrease sugar and processed foods whenever possible. These place an additional burden on the body and our response to fight infection.
  • Immune boosting ideas: Eat plenty of foods rich in antioxidants to boost immune defense and make probiotics a regular for gut health.
  • Spend time outdoors: Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D to support your immune system.

Sniffles or a low-grade fever?

  • Remove sugar and dairy – It may be tempting to seek out comfort foods if you are not feeling your best, however foods high in sugar and low in nutrients may make it even harder for your immune system to fight off your symptoms. In some people dairy may lead to increased mucus production, which can add to the misery.
  • Prepare an immune boosting soup
  • Supplements – Garlic can help fight off illness while  Vitamin C may help speed up the recovery process.
  • Sleep – Your body needs extra rest to fight off infection.
  • Warming socks or other contrast hydrotherapy

What to do if you get the dreaded ‘lice’ call

DO NOT PANIC. Check your child’s head with a lice comb for eggs/nits or live bugs. If there are none, a natural, non-chemical and preventive measure to limit adhesion to the hair shaft is applying and leaving in olive oil and/or securing long hair in a bun. The oil makes adherence to the hair shaft difficult and the bun limits the surface area of loose hair to come in contact with the lice. You should continue to check your child’s head daily and keep the oil in, until the epidemic concerns are done. You may wish to place a towel over bedding/furniture as the oil can stain some fabrics.

If you do find eggs or live bugs you need to remove them all. Again, a healthy dousing of olive oil will help suffocate any living bugs and make sticking to the hair shaft harder. Use a lice comb (and if needed a magnifying glass) on the oiled hair and go section by section, slowly. A fully charged electronic device can help in having the child still for that long.  All carpets and furniture will need to be vacuumed well, and clothes, bedding, towels and stuffed animals will need to be washed, and dried with high heat, or secured in a plastic bag for removal from the home. In most cases, you can successfully treat lice without harsh chemicals, especially if you catch it early. Adults can also do the oil treatment and take a hairdryer on the hottest setting to their hair for prevention. Hot hair dryers may not be recommended on children due to the potential for burning.

Naturopathic doctors are primary care providers specially trained in preventative medicine to help you and your loved ones prevent and fight off illness all year long. Click here to find an ND near you in the US and Canada.


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