Can’t Ditch that Bug?

No, I don’t mean insects. That would be a... whole ‘nother problem.

Nah, I’m talking sniffles, coughing, fevers, etc. You’re going on... Week 2 or 3, or worse, and you’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I feel ya. We have been battling congestion and coughing, then what may or may not have been a flu that wasn't diagnosed in time, then sudden stomach bug. It’s been intense, to say the least.

Having to miss events and worrying about getting sick yourself, that’s stressful enough, but on top of that, you have to deal with sick kids. They might be fussy or whiny, or maybe mellow and low energy, or vomiting on you unexpectedly. Sick kids keep you on your toes... well, more than usual.

Well, here are some techniques to help your family recover more quickly or not reinfect yourselves (and honestly I constantly hear about these, but don’t generally remember to actually implement them, so... maybe I should take my own advice). Note that this is not medical advice and shouldn’t be taken in the place of a doctor’s visit if that’s what you or your kids need.

1) Drink lots of water.

This is something that's good to do anyway, but especially if you're sick. It helps you flush out toxins and stay hydrated, both of which should help you feel better. If you get dehydrated, it's harder for your body to function correctly, and if you're fighting off an infection already, you want your immune system to be on top of its game.

It's harder to keep your kids hydrated, especially if they are toddlers or younger. You can't really force them to drink, but you can creatively coerce them to by giving them different options. Try offering some watered down juice (to reduce the amount of sugar they're consuming), the lower sugar variety of Gatorade, Pedialyte if they'll drink it, or turning any of those into popsicles! Or, ya know, water of course. But if they're throwing up, don't give them too much at once because it'll just make them throw it all up again. That's why doing popsicles is awesome because it makes them more likely to actually consume it, and it makes them take it in more slowly so they aren't just chugging a whole cup and throwing it up immediately.

You want to work especially hard to keep them hydrated because you don't want them to end up in the emergency room with an IV because that's the only way to hydrate them. So try offering a drink every 15 minutes to an hour, and have them take little sips each time.

2) Take echinacea and/or Emergen-C.

I remember my mom making us take echinacea when we were kids, and I did not particularly like it, so I haven't actually tried it as an adult, but I've heard great things about it from other people! It's a perennial plant whose extract seems to help boost the immune system and reduce the symptoms of cold, flu, and other illnesses, but it isn't FDA approved, so I don't think anyone can officially make those claims. That's just what's been observed. I know my husband and mother-in-law often recommend it. Make sure that you double check on the bottle if there is an age minimum recommended before giving it to any young children.

Emergen-C is a drink powder packed with an insane amount of Vitamin C (don't worry, your body flushes out any you don't need). Some of them taste pretty good, like the Raspberry and the Blueberry Acai, and you just take one a day. It is not recommended for children under 12 though, so it would only help you and older children. I believe it only really makes a difference before you get sick though, so I'd recommend starting to take it daily as soon as someone else in your house gets sick, that way you can hopefully decrease your chances of catching whatever illness they have.

Eating fruits and vegetables that are packed with Vitamin C are also helpful - bell peppers, citrus, broccoli, cantaloupe, strawberries, etc. They're a natural way to get Vitamin C (and other nutrients too)!

3) Sanitize everything - clothes, bedding, toys, door knobs, car seats, steering wheel/buttons on the dashboard, etc.

Seriously, I forget sometimes that these things don't just sanitize themselves... or that they collect germs in the first place. The clothes are obvious, as is bedding, but the other things wouldn't occur to me normally.

The other day, I spent 3 hours cleaning out my van - not because it was that messy, but because I only clean my car out every couple months, so I figured it should be extra clean so that it'll last longer. It occurred to me that I usually take out all the unnecessary stuff and vacuum, but I never really "clean" anything. I don't take the car seat covers off, I just vacuum out the crumbs and spot clean. I don't wipe off the dashboard or the steering wheel. Those are things that get used and touched frequently, so they probably harbor a ton of germs! So every once in a while, remove the car seat covers and wash them, and use a Clorox wipe or other sanitizing wipe to clean off the dashboard and steering wheel and any knobs or buttons that you touch often.

Other places that probably have a lot of germs due to frequent use would include door knobs, refrigerator and freezer handles, stove knobs, remote controls, computer keyboards, cell phones, etc. Just sanitize it all!

4) Get some sunshine.

This one is probably less obvious because when you're sick, you don't really go outside much. But sunshine can help improve your mood and help you feel better emotionally because being cooped up in the house for a week or two can drive you crazy, honestly. Even if you just go out on the porch for a while, the fresh air and sunshine will brighten your mood and help you stop breathing stale air that's full of germs! Plus, I'm sure the Vitamin D boost is helpful as well.

5) Do something fun.

You need to rest to help your body recuperate, but that doesn't mean you have to lie around and do nothing! You can play games with your kids or whole family, read a book, listen to fun music, watch a movie together, draw... there are so many possibilities. Get creative and keep things interesting. It'll get your mind off how miserable you feel physically, and you'll get a chance to bond with your family. Yes, you'd obviously like it to be under better circumstances, but with the hectic, busy schedules people have these days (even kids), this might become a much needed break and bonding experience that you might as well take advantage of while everyone is in one place together.

Hopefully you and your family can recover quickly and stay healthy. Just remember that flu and cold season is almost over... you can make it!


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