Please welcome dear friend and naturopath Sarah Murphy for today's snot-busting guest post.
You’ve turned the heating up a notch or two and brought the hats and gloves down out of storage. The children have started rehearsing their Christmas play, and you've made a start on the necessary preparations for the annual festivities (they seem to come around quicker each year don’t they?) Yep readers, you’re all geared up for Winter….
Or are you? What about the snotty noses, sore throats and winter bugs that are inevitably lurking around the corner at this time of year? Have you prepared for those?
Being ill is a downright pain for everyone, but the cold Winter weather can be particularly challenging for children with DS, who are often more vulnerable at this time of year.
One of the main worries can be the build up of excess mucus that most children suffer with during the Winter months. For youngsters with DS, who typically have much narrower airways, this can create a whole host of issues, such as croup, ear inns and pneumonia which could ultimately spell a miserable season for everyone.
Many parents feel there’s little they can do to help boost their child’s immunity naturally, but it’s one of the best ways to stop mucus in its tracks. Here are a few of our top tips to help you prepare for a healthy, happy (and hopefully snot free!) Winter. These tips are to be used in conjunction with any medication your child has been prescribed. Always seek medical assistance at the first sign of illness.
1. Spice up your diet:
Both red and green chilli peppers are high in immune boosting vitamin C and anti-inflammatory vitamin A (essential for healthy mucus membranes.) Their peppery heat has the added bonus of stimulating secretions that can help clear congestion from the nasal passages and lungs. Add small amounts to baked beans or bolognaise to make the taste more palatable for little ones. Garlic, oregano, turmeric, onions and ginger should also be eaten freely. All of these foods have powerful anti-bacterial properties which can help keep winter bugs at bay, so get cooking up a baby curry today! Some parents also swear by cutting out dairy products and mucus-forming banana and supplementing with a daily kids' multivitamin is a must.
2. Get a good night’s sleep:
A blocked nose is always much worse at night-time. It can make breathing difficult, and cause frequent waking (snoring can keep others from drifting off too!) Saline sprays and nose aspirators can go some way towards keeping the airways clear, but a more soothing approach is to use steam inhalations to help everyone get a good night’s rest. Sleep solutions include a warm bath before bedtime which can help ease congestion, or try using a vaporiser or humidifier in your child’s bedroom. Camomile tea with honey will help sooth your little one off to sleep, and help to clear phlegm, but be wary of essential oils as they can irritate the airways. Some children enjoy a relaxing massage and soft music as they drift of to the land of nod. You can also try tilting your child's bed by propping the head end up on a couple of large books. This will drain any mucus away and help prevent post nasal drip, a common cause of croup.
3. Get plenty of fresh air:
Many people spend too much time indoors during the winter months. Getting out and about in the fresh air can do the whole family a power of good. There’s no need to fear “catching cold” providing you wrap up in suitable clothing. Don't forget a snug hat! In fact a bracing walk is one of the best ways to blow away the cobwebs and dry out mucus. White blood cells, (vital for the proper functioning of your immune system,) need a good supply of oxygen to function effectively. Fresh air opens up your lungs and increases blood flow, meaning that any bugs and toxins circulating around your system will be flushed out much more quickly than if you spent 9 hours a day cooped up indoors.
4. Keep your bowels moving!
Many people don’t realise that constipation can be a big problem when it comes to reduced immune function. A sluggish digestive system caused by food stagnating in the intestines can eventually lead to toxic build up, poor elimination and increased formation of mucus. Children with Down's syndrome are susceptible to constipation and may need a daily dose of a laxative such as Movocol, but also try to encourage children to up their fluid intake during the winter season. Drinking more water, and eating foods which contain plenty of natural fibre (such as seasonal greens and fresh fruit - which are also both high in immune boosting vitamin C) will increase the frequency of bowel movements and make stools easier to pass. Try buying a selection of fun beakers and straws to encourage increased fluid intake in reluctant drinkers and let constipation be a thing of the past.
5. Make your own mucus busting herbal cordial!
This delicious tasting syrup is a safe, effective remedy for general congestion, coughs and colds. You can even try it yourself! Place a few sprigs of thyme in a teapot and add a pint of boiling water. Throw in a few sticks of cinnamon bark and several slices of freshly chopped ginger, then leave to infuse for about 10 – 15 minutes. Once the water has cooled, strain, and mix with a jar of good quality honey and about half a bag of brown sugar. Heat in a saucepan until the mixture begins to thicken. Once the syrup has cooled, store it in a clean glass bottle in the refrigerator. Take a teaspoon every morning, or add to warm water and lemon juice for a delicious bedtime drink.
When it comes to boosting immunity and staying happy and healthy through the long Winter months, getting plenty of sleep, water, fresh air and good food really does seem to be the key.
Of course it’s essential to consult your doctor should your child fall ill, but by giving your child’s immune system a helping hand at the start of the season, visits to the doctor’s surgery or paediatric hospital ward will hopefully be less frequent.
Here’s to a healthy, happy Winter!
Read Sarah's guest post Natty, Mia and the Incompetent Nanny here.