Treating Kids This Flu Season

Children | | November 11, 2009 at 6:07 am
Photo by Shermeee.

Photo by Shermeee.

Concerned parents have been calling my office asking for advice on how to best treat their feverish, sniffling tots. Knowing what to look for will help you decide if home remedies are appropriate or if a visit to the doctor is in order. While it’s a natural instinct to give a sick child medicine, holding off at first is the best bet for their still developing immune systems.

“Illness is a natural part of life,” notes integrative pediatrician, Roy Steinbeck, “Suppressing symptoms at all costs is not a good idea.” When a pathogen invades the developing immune system, specialized memory cells are created to later recognize and ward off the invader. Parents will be happy to learn that about 80% of children’s immune related illnesses will heal on their own without the need for antibiotics.

Boost and protect your child’s immunity every single day

  • Supplement with vitamin C and vitamin D3. Both are available in convenient chewable and naturally sweetened forms. 
  • Eat plenty of superfoods rich in antioxidants
  • Exercise activates the immune system. Get them running, jumping, and bouncing!
  • Encourage frequent hand washing and keeping hands away from mouth
  • Wash toys and pacifiers frequently 
  • Give seasonal acupuncture treatments to protect and enhance immunity

Common ailments and what to do

The Common Cold: often begins with sore throat, a clear runny nose, body aches and fatigue. Fever or chills may be associated, although not as common as with flu. Here’s how to keep the cold from causing secondary respiratory infections:

Ear Infection: marked by continual pulling on earlobes, cranky behavior, congestion and a possible fever. What to do:

The flu: marked by fatigue, fever of 103-105 degrees, achy back and legs, nasal congestion, loss of appetite, possible nausea and vomiting. What to do:

  • Homepathic oscillococcinum at the first signs and symptoms
  • Contact your child’s primary care physician to discuss the development of their symptoms and decide what plan of action is best for your child’s individual case.
  • Keep your child hydrated
  • Watch that fever! If the fever steadily rises or lasts for more than 3 days consider this serious and contact your physician.

What do all three of these have in common? They all tend to be viral in nature, meaning your child can skip a round of antibiotics this year.

To help know the difference, here’s a guide to distinguishing the signs and symptoms of bacteria and viruses. Remember, it’s best to err on the side of caution, so if you’re feeling unsure, seek the advice of your primary care physician. Bacteria  or Virus?


While some symptoms can overlap, these major signs and symptoms as a pattern will help you distinguish between the two.



  • Thicker, yellow or green secretions
  • Fever
  • Coughing of mucous
  • Swollen lymph nodes


  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Cough


Still not sure or have questions? Don’t ever feel too shy to call your doc. All this aside, a little TLC goes a long way. Wrap your little one in a cozy blanket, place a washcloth on their forehead to soothe a fever, and spoon up some yummy home-made chicken or vegetable soup.

Like to look at the research? Pediatrics study cites ear drops more effective than other common treatments

ChristineChristine M. Dionese L.Ac. specializes in integrative medicine, medical journalism and was the VP of marketing at WellWire LLC. Visit her wellness and lifestyle blog, Reaching Beyond Now.

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  1. Patty says:

    I’m planning on collecting many of the suggested remedies and creating a cold/flu treatment “kit” just in case. Sourcing some of these remedies can be difficult when there aren’t many local stores carrying these products. Even if I could find them locally, I don’t want to be running out to gather it all up when I have a sick child to take care of. Who knows, maybe just getting it all together will be enough to keep the illnesses away, you know, like carrying an umbrella just in case.

  2. Putting a kit together is an excellent suggestion!

    When little ones are ailing it’s difficult to run out, so having remedies at your fingertips is best!

    I offer my patients a base kit and then build in remedies on a case by case basis. Ask your naturopathic or Chinese medical provider to assist in assembling a kit for your family!

  3. Hal M Kehew says:

    Very educational – always spread the word. Looking forward to an update. For too long now have I had the urge to begin with my personal blog. Suppose if I wait around any longer I’ll never take action. I’ll make sure to include you in my Blogroll. Thanks again!!