It’s winter time again, and just like every winter season illnesses are on the rise.
Regardless of the nature and cause of a child’s illness, most parents will do every possible thing to make their child feel better.
Here’s what you need to do if your child is sick:
- Asses the gravity of the illness, as the parent, you are the best one to do it. Who knows a child better than its parents!? You can observe your child’s level of activity, eating pattern, the presence of any new symptom (fever, pain, cough, sneezing, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.), and sleeping pattern.
- Call or visit the pediatrician. This is the most important step to take when caring for a sick child. The pediatrician is the only one qualified to examine a child, diagnose illness, and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
- Listen well to the doctor’s instructions, don’t push for the prescription of unnecessary medication (especially antibiotics), and follow the instructions of any prescribed medication.
- Don’t let a pharmacist treat your child. Only a doctor should prescribe medication.
Since many drugs are available over the counter, parents tend to medicate their children themselves or to consult the pharmacist instead of a pediatrician. This is a pattern that has resulted in a major issue all pediatricians face in their daily practice: the misuse and overuse of many drugs, particularly antibiotics.
Up to 70% of childhood infections (mostly in children below 3 years of age) are of viral origin. Viral diseases are self-limited and should not be treated with antibiotics (which only kill bacteria).
Using antibiotics to treat viral infections will only expose a child to the side effects of an unnecessary drug and disturbs the function and number of normal gut flora (a healthy gut flora is a major factor for good digestion, thus good growth and development).
The overuse of antibiotics has resulted in a worldwide health crisis: antibiotic resistance. Many strains of bacteria mutated and became resistant to the commonly used antibiotics, making it increasingly difficult for physicians to treat even the simplest infections.
A strong immunity is the best prevention against any disease.
To strengthen your child’s immunity, you can:
- Breastfeed babies for at least 6 months.
- A newborn’s immunity is provided by the immunoglobulins present in breast milk during the first 6 months of breastfeeding.
- Protect children by giving them the recommended vaccines.
- Preserve good hygiene and teach children healthy habits washing hands before meals.
- Ensure a healthy diet.
- A child’s diet should consist of real whole foods which provide all the vitamins and nutrients needed for strong immunity (fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, organic honey and probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt). Keep children away from processed foods and sugars.
- Make sure that your children get a good night’s sleep of 8 hours minimum.
- Let your kids spend time outdoors. An active child is a healthy child! Let them practice their favorite sports or just play outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
Provide your children with a healthy environment to strengthen their immunity and protect them from diseases and follow these recommendations in case they do get sick.