Boosting Immunity During the “Brrr” Months
During the months of November to February, the winter monsoon brings cooler air to our tropical country. For a few months in a year, we get to bring out our jackets and enjoy the cooler breeze of early mornings and evenings. Weather forecasts for 2018 say we can expect another dip in temperature this month until February. As happy as that sounds, mild changes in weather also increase the likelihood of catching a cold. Mommy Mundo sat down with Dra. Josy Naty Venturina, M.D., a Pediatric Pulmonologist from Cardinal Santos Medical Center who has had her share of patients coming in with viruses and infections due to the change of weather. Dra. Venturina tells us how we can help our children avoid colds and viruses this season.
Is it true that more kids get sick during the cooler months of November to February?
“These months mean a decrease in temperature, so it’s colder than usual. Colder weather makes it more favorable for viruses and bacteria, making kids more susceptible to getting sick. Viral infections are more common in children less than five years old. So they are definitely affected.”
What steps should moms take to prevent their kids from getting sick?
“There are many things we can do to avoid getting ill. The most basic things are handwashing and drinking lots of water.
Handwashing helps get rid of germs your kids come in contact with. It prevents the spread of infections especially since germs enter the body through eyes, nose, and mouth. Drinking water flushes out toxins.
You can also take vitamins to boost the immune system. But some vitamins are not so effective, so consult with your pediatrician.”
Which vitamins can we give our kids to boost their immune system?
“For colds, they say that if you give Vitamin C “hindi magkakasipon”. But actually studies have proven that even if you give Vitamin C, you cannot prevent a virus. Once you’re infected, you have to let it run its course. But Vitamin C will help! Let’s say that you have a double dose of Vitamin C on the day that the colds started. The Vitamin C will not prevent the disease but it will shorten the course of the colds. This will be about a one day difference, which is already significant for a child. Zinc has also been proven to help prevent diseases like pneumonia. You can give it for 4 to 6 months as a supplement. It’s always best to ask your doctor before starting any course of vitamins. “
When should moms bring their kids to the doctor?
“Anytime! There’s no guideline on when to bring the child to the doctor. When the child is bothered with worsening symptoms, like loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever, you should bring him or her to the doctor. Because even if we say it’s just a virus, there is a chance for a superimposed bacterial infection. We need to get that checked. “
What are your thoughts on moms who self-medicate kids with colds?
“Not all medicines are recommended for kids. So we have to be careful about buying mucolytics and decongestants. It really depends. And so your child may or may not benefit. Sometimes, it can make their condition worsen. But saline solutions are fine to decongest kids—that’s just salt and water so there’s no overdose. Again, talk to your pedia about medicines and find out the correct medicine and dosage for your child.”
Kids getting sick is really a part of the motherhood journey. It’s a less-than-pleasant moment we all have to deal with but as Dra. Venturina shared, there are steps we can take to help our children get through it.
Let’s not allow colds and cough to put a damper on the new year ahead. Teaching kids healthy habits like washing their hands frequently, getting enough water (and nutritious food), plus the right amount of rest, will surely help strengthen our children and lower the chances of catching viruses they are exposed to in school and in their daily environments.
Dra. Josy Naty Venturina, M.D., Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine Cardinal Santos Medical Center, Clinic Schedule: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9am to 12noon at Room 235