Without fail, those dreaded winter bugs arrive each year, making life pretty miserable for many young families. Runny noses, sore throats, headaches, coughs and sniffs are the common symptoms we associate with these bugs. Growing up, it is most likely your parent's generation focused on treating the symptoms with making you stay in bed, have paracetamol, keeping you warm and sticking your head over a steaming bowl of Vicks. While some of those methods may still have their use, today’s parents are looking for a more natural way to prevent and treat colds and flu.
We must be clear here; we’re not talking about Covid-19. In all cases, any corona virus symptoms should be reported to your child’s GP who can then make the determination as to what the next steps should be. If they believe it is simply one of the common winter bugs, then that’s where our advice comes into play.
So, what we’ve put together are a collection of tips to help you fight off the winter bugs naturally for you family, including both prevention and symptom relief.
Pictured: Kiwiherb Winter Guard
Reducing Your Risk of Catching Annoying Winter Bugs
Every year in New Zealand, it is estimated that up to 20% of Kiwis will catch the flu. For common colds, the numbers are estimated to be even higher. Anyone with kids knows that early childhood centres and schools are full of sniffy kids and that their kids usually catch these bugs multiple times a year. For many years catching a cold was thought of as something that happened to everyone, and there wasn’t too much you could do about it. Recent thinking though, or at least as recent as the new generation of parents, is that there must be something we can do to reduce our chances.
Here are some of the things you and your family can do to lower the likelihood of catching any winter bugs:
- Wash your hands – you’ll already be familiar with the direction to wash your hands for 20 seconds before touching your face or eating. Those little germs will often use unwashed hands as the opportunity they need to infect your body. 20 seconds, or the entire happy birthday song, along with soap and a good hand rubbing will wash the majority of these nasties off. Don’t forget to dry them well too, as bugs love damp hands too. Once they are dry, applying our New Edition Hand Sanitiser is a great choice. With one application lasting for 24 hours even with frequent handwashing, it gives great peace of mind to parents.
- Get enough sleep – now don’t laugh. We know that parents are usually sleep deprived and have been for several years. Sleep though, helps to boost our immune systems. In fact, we need different amounts of sleep in summer to those in winter, with more sleep required in the colder months.
- Keep active – 20 minutes of moderate intensity activity is recommended by the WHO each day, including in winter! Exercise is a great way to keep our bodies healthy and happy, plus boost our immune system.
- Eat well – it goes without saying that eating lots of processed foods isn’t that great for our health. Choosing fresh and natural foods is the best choice at helping keep our bodies healthy and strong.
- Keep areas clean – regular cleaning of high touch areas such as door handles, toys, keys and bench services is important. The New Edition Everything Spray will keep any nasty bacteria and mould for up to 30 days. How neat is that?!
- Consider probiotics – research has shown that regularly taking probiotics can help reduce the severity and the length of time someone has a cold. We have a lot of probiotic solutions available which can help keep your family healthy.
- Vitamins – there’s been a lot of research around the use of vitamin supplements, in particular zinc, C and D in helping lower the risks associated with winter bugs. We’re not in a position to make any recommendations around vitamin usage, so please do your own research and chat with a health professional about this.
Sometimes no matter what prevention strategies you have put into place, you or your kids still end up getting sick. That’s when you start looking for things that will help make you feel better and reduce the severity of the illness.
Managing Life with Winter Bugs
If you or your family are unlucky enough to get sick, there are plenty of things you can do to help get better quickly. They include:
- Clearing little blocked noses – a blocked nose can be just plain miserable. While you can encourage your toddler to blow their nose, it is impossible in babies. NoseFrida can help suck out that snot, putting it bluntly, letting them feed and breath more easily for a time.
- Coughs – cough medicine is not recommended or prescribed for young children as it can do more harm than good. Kiwiherb Children’s Chest Syrup is a great natural alternative helping provide respiratory health. Another great natural alternative is using an ultrasonic humidifier.
- Sore throats – make sure to encourage the drinking of lots of water. Ice blocks or children's throat syrups make a good option to both soothe throats and keep fluid levels up.
- Rest – while young children are unlikely to want to stay in bed, see if they will rest inside instead. Cuddles on the sofa, being read to or watching TV are all options here. Don’t forget the cuddly toy or blanket here too, these heatable soft toys (pictured) can keep you little one warm and toastie.
- Over the counter remedies – here we’re talking about vitamin supplements and pain relievers such as paracetamol. Please talk with your health professional about which ones are best suited to meet yours or your child’s needs.
- Warm shower – the steam of a warm shower can help clear your nose and chest. Make sure that all children are supervised around water, adding a drop of Nose and chest or Sniffles for maximum effectiveness to clear blocked noses before bed.
When Winter Bugs Get Serious
Sometimes what seems like a common cold is in reality something nastier. Nowadays, as well as colds and flu, we also need to be aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 too. We recommend that at all times you take the advice given by the public health officials on the Unite Against Covid-19 website. It is here that you will find out what symptoms to look for and what to do should you or a family member have any of them. Keeping in contact with your GP is also important and they too should be your first port of call to contact when someone gets any winter bugs.
We hope that these tips do help give you and your family some peace of mind during the colder months. Keep warm and take care xxx