By Laura Bylsma
It can be a heart wrenching and sleep-deprived time when your child is suffering from the symptoms of winter ills and chills with dry, scratchy throats, tight chests and trouble breathing.
Most parents will be familiar with spending long nights up comforting their children, trying to help them relax into sleep. Just as it seems they might nod off, they struggle again, feeling unwell, and needing care and comfort through the night.
They feel downright miserable and you feel completely helpless.
You know your GP is likely to advise you to keep the fluids up and rest. With time it will pass. But that doesn’t take away the desperation you feel to make it stop and for everyone in the house to get some rest at night.
So what can you do?
Accept that winter ills and chills are a necessary part of growing up
They challenge the immune system and strengthen the child’s defence mechanisms. And this can help growing children.
The usual winter ills and chills can last anywhere from a few days to a week. They shouldn’t last longer. Nor should the symptoms worsen.
It’s normal for children to experience bouts of ills and chills up to eight times a year, sometimes more if they are coming into contact with lots of other young children via school, day care or whānau. Commonly these bugs can last a week or more.
The key measure isn’t how many times your child falls ill, but rather how long the illness lasts for.
And if things don’t improve?
It’s not normal when symptoms don’t evolve and improve over a short period of time. It’s not normal if symptoms are severe and linger for longer than a week. It’s not normal if your child has continued trouble breathing or a shortness of breath.
Track symptoms day-by-day. If you don’t see an improvement over a period of days, it’s advisable to go and check in with your GP.
So what can you do to help support your children against winter bugs?
Kids are not just small adults – their bodies actually work quite differently. Their immune systems are still developing and they build up their adaptive immune system all the time as they encounter new bugs.
Check that the remedies you are using for your children have been formulated with their specific needs, and safety, in mind.
Many people look to natural remedies to support family health.