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Diana Weil: Staying Well When Others Aren’t

Editor’s Note: Diana Weil is the daughter of Dr. Andrew Weil. Her column is intended to educate and guide our adult audience on how to interact and communicate with children on health and related matters.

When germs are going around, what to do? First of all, don’t freak out — it’s not a huge deal if your child gets sick once in a while. In fact, that’s how kids’ immune systems get stronger. But you still should be careful, because a sick kid isn’t fun for anyone. Here are a few hints on how to keep your child well when others are not.

You have to make sure they do the obvious, such as wash their hands. (But don’t give them antibacterial products – they don’t do much but encourage germs to get stronger.) Tell them to always wash their hands after going to the bathroom or shaking hands with anyone who might be sick. Another hint: don’t let your child share food or drinks with others that are sick. That’s one of the better ways to spread germs. And make sure they get plenty of rest and sleep.

If you know that a particular sickness is going around (flu, cold, strep, or a cough), you can help prevent your child from getting it. Put Emergen-C (there are Emergen-C’s with no sugar) in a water bottle, send it with them to school, and tell them to drink out of it periodically. When they get home, make them an Echinacea tincture with honey, lemon, and warm water (do not use boiling water with Echinacea or it will reduce its effect). Give your child foods rich in vitamin C like fresh fruits, especially citrus fruits and drinks. (Red bell peppers are a good source too.)

Remember that everyone gets sick once in a while. Just be careful and be aware of what your children are doing when others are sick. For other hints on how to keep your kids well look in the Q&A Library under Children’s Health.

Diana Dakota Weil