Fall and winter bring chilling temperatures, less sun, and more rain. You’ve probably heard that colds aren’t caused by rain or cold weather. But believing this common myth may be better for you – and this becomes critical if you have children.
Don’t worry, here are a few effective ways you can help protect your children from pneumonia during the cold seasons.
Is Catching a Cold When it’s Cold Really Just a Myth?
Is it just a popular myth that you’re more likely to catch a cold when exposed to cold temperatures? Maybe not — doctors found evidence that cold viruses infect you easier during the colder seasons. They found preliminary evidence that exposure to cold temperatures suppresses your immune system. They also found that the rhinovirus (major cold-causing virus) can multiply easier in your body when your body temperature is lower (it’s most optimal for the virus when your body is at 91 degrees Fahrenheit).
They ran studies on mice cells and found that when the airways are exposed to cold air, the immune cells are less able to send signals between themselves to coordinate blocking the rhinovirus from replicating itself.
Don’t let your guard down because you’ve heard the myth is wrong. In fact, you should protect your children and yourself even more, when it’s cold out because your immune system has a harder time fighting cold-causing viruses.
Why Cold Prevention is More Important for Children
Simple colds and flus can turn into pneumonia – and children are more susceptible to developing pneumonia from these and other respiratory infections. According to the American Lung Association, children are generally at high risk for pneumonia. Pneumonia is the leading cause of hospitalization among U.S. children. Worse, pneumonia is the cause of 15 percent of worldwide deaths of children below 5.
Your children most likely won’t die from contracting a cold this winter, but being aware and proactive in protecting your children from colds and flus during the cold seasons helps lower any risk.
Here are four things you should be doing:
1. Give Your Children Daily Vitamin C Supplements
What’s a famous go-to when you have a cold? Orange juice – because of its vitamin C content. Scientists have now found proof justifying this traditional remedy. Researchers found that vitamin C boosts your immune cell count and your immune cells’ ability to capture invading viruses. It also boosts production of virus-fighting molecules (called interferons) made by your immune system. Vitamin C has also been found to directly lower virus replication. When researchers gave animals vitamin C, it boosted their defenses against both viruses and bacteria, which can both cause pneumonia. They also found that your body uses up vitamin C when fighting off pneumonia – so at the very least, keeping your vitamin C stores up helps your immune system fend off pneumonia-causing germs.
How do these findings play out in the real world? Natural News interviewed Dr. Andrew Saul, Ph.D. who advocates for finding natural cures before seeing your doctor. He testifies that he was able to cure his pneumonia within three hours of a non-stop vitamin C therapy. But, his testimony is a bit biased since there’s some personal gain (in terms of his self-cure books) involved.
Natural News also tells of another patient using the same non-stop vitamin C therapy. The New Zealand native was near death, being attacked by both leukemia and pneumonia. The therapy reversed both diseases and he eventually walked out of the hospital on his own!
But both “miracle cures” involved non-stop intravenous vitamin C of very high doses. Unless you’re a trained healthcare professional, it’s not a remedy you can easily resort to whenever you get the sniffles. It also may be dangerous, and you should ask your doctor before ever trying it.
Instead, bulletproof your children’s and your immunity by taking vitamin C supplements with them every day. It’s better to prevent colds and flus from taking hold than resort to overboard remedies when you’re already sick in bed. (As a bonus, taking vitamin C supplements before or after your daily workout helps prevents oxidative damage and stress caused by free radicals created when you exercise!) All you need to do is make sure your children pop a vitamin C pill before you send them off to school and you can rest assured they’re safer from colds and flus.
If your children find it hard to swallow pills, you can give them a glass of vitamin C-packed lemon water with their everyday breakfast instead.
2. Install a Chimney
If you cook your children’s meals on a wooden stove, you could be increasing their risk for pneumonia. But if you invest in a chimney for your stove, you’ll help lower their risk. Researchers found that households with chimneys installed to their wooden stoves have a 30 percent lessened risk of severe pneumonia in toddlers. The chimneys also lowered carbon monoxide exposure (which can harm your children’s nervous systems) by 50 percent.
Why? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), open fires for cooking are a major cause of children’s pneumonia. Experts found that smoke exposure can aggravate the condition of children with mild pneumonia. In fact, in the study, the smoke exposure made it more likely that medical intervention would fail, which led to 35 percent of the infected children dying. But using a chimney helps keep indoor pollution from cooking away from your children’s lungs.
Robert Hanflig, the owner of Pellet Stove Parts, advises that choosing the right chimney is vital for keeping smoke out of your home’s air. A chimney’s draft (vacuum function) is drastically lessened if it’s not 2 feet taller than any raised part of your roof that’s 10 feet from the chimney. If you have a flat roof, the chimney must be at least 3 feet above it.
3. Get Your Children Vaccinated
Vaccination is unanimously recognized as the most effective way to prevent childhood pneumonia. The NIH reports that vaccination prevents 1,075,000 child deaths by pneumonia annually. They advise vaccination for Hib and pneumococcus in children, as these are the two leading causes of children’s pneumonia deaths.
But vaccines can have staggering side effects, which include thousands of medically recorded cases of seizures and encephalitis. Although it’s unlikely that your children will experience any side effects, the risk is still there. Instead, you can choose to boost your children’s cold and flu defenses with vitamin C and other immunity-boosting supplements, like antioxidant-rich green tea and coffee bean extracts.
4. Give Your Children Hand Sanitizers
Touching infected surfaces then touching your nose, eyes, or mouth later is one of the most common ways cold-causing germs enter your body. Why? People wipe their noses with their hands all the time then touch doorknobs, desks, and other common fixtures. Cold-causing viruses usually survive for 24 hours outside of a host, but depending on the surface, some viruses can survive for a whole week! If your children touch an infected surface, these germs are now on their hands and only a nose-scratching or an eye-rubbing moment away from entering their bodies.
Hand sanitizers can be expensive, but teaching your children to use them often can help prevent these cold- and flu-causing pathogens from entering their bodies. Researchers studied the hands of participants after they used a hand sanitizer and found greatly lowered numbers of infectious viruses on their skin. They concluded that using hand sanitizers after your hands come into contact with public objects can help protect you from exposure to these germs, but since it doesn’t completely disinfect your hands of cold-causing viruses, it’s not foolproof.
The cold seasons bring risk to your children of developing pneumonia. While no method can assure your children 100 percent protection, implementing these four ways effectively lowers their risk significantly. According to Justin Eichler, lead editor of Posta news, children of certain ethnicities are more susceptible to dying from pneumonia (like Maori and Pacific Islanders whose risk are about six times higher). If your children are of these higher-risk ethnicities, you should strongly consider getting them vaccinated, which offers the most protection from pneumonia.
Featured photo credit: langll via pixabay.com