How to strengthen your child’s immune system?
When can a child’s immune system fail? Most often when it becomes exhausted from a succession of endlessly repeated colds. But quite often in childhood it may also be due to deeper reasons.
Hello, dear friends. I am Natalia Gordienko, an infectious disease doctor, an immunologist. I have been in clinical immunology for fifteen years, and in infectiology for thirty years. And today I want to talk to you about a fairly serious problem – children who are sick often, or children who are sick often and for a long time. This is actually a very serious problem, and according to various authors, from 30% to 60% of children in one way or another arrive at a period when they are often ill.
What children are considered to be frequently ill?
Why is there such a term as “frequently ill children”?
For example: in Great Britain it is considered that a child is considered frequently ill if he is ill eight times a year.
Our criteria are stricter. A child is considered frequently ill if:
- a child under a year is ill more than four times in a year;
- a child from one to three years old is sick more than six times a year;
- a child from three to seven years old gets sick more than eight times a year;
- If a child is older than seven or eight and gets sick more than four times a year.
Causes of weakened immunity in children
This is actually quite a serious social problem, as well as an economic one. When a child is often sick, there is no normal psychological climate in the family. Why does this happen? Because, unfortunately, the other members of the family lack attention. And 70% of families who have a child who is often ill, note that they create a strained psychological relationship. They can’t give warmth or attention to one another, and this greatly affects the quality of life in the family.
In addition, it is quite a serious financial problem. Why? Because, unfortunately, it is very difficult to treat a child every month. On the one hand it requires a certain material costs, and on the other hand, today’s young people and parents work, and if they are on sick leave for a long time, they can not devote attention to their business, respectively, such material costs increase, because the flow of material resources into the family is also reduced. And from the point of view of the state, this is also a serious material problem, because the employee is taken out of work, out of the social sphere, out of the sphere of labor for a long period of time while the child is sick.
But what can be the factor that leads to the creation of these conditions, when a child is often ill? In fact, there could be many reasons for this. As an infectious disease specialist, I would like to note first of all the reasons which can be connected with external factors, with chronic diseases, with the state of immune system, with psychological conditions, because a child who is often ill, unfortunately, can often form a psychopathic personality development. He demands more and more attention to himself, and begins to specially attract even more attention from his relatives, his parents.
Quite often I hear from my patients, from parents of sick children, that there is something wrong with the child’s immune system. This is not always true. For example, in 20% of cases a sick child may have a serious illness, such as bronchial asthma, behind a series of repetitive respiratory or colds. And of course this child should be seriously and thoroughly examined to detect the beginning of the disease.
If a child for a certain period of time lived quietly, and he did not have frequent illness, and then suddenly he “got involved”, the reason for this may be contact with a large number of children. This especially affects children over the age of three, when they go to kindergarten, kindergarten, nursery school and begin to be in close contact with a lot of children who have their own microflora, their own viruses, their own bacteria in the nasopharynx. They start to get infected with all of this. And this is where the immune system copes for a certain period of time, and then it begins to fail.
When does the immune system fail? When it gets depleted, or when it’s suffering from a series of repeated colds. But quite often in childhood it can be due to deeper reasons, such as parasitic infestations, which neither parents nor the doctor may pay attention to. So when we work with children who are often ill, the first thing we do is to determine what is the key factor in changes in the immune system. There are no parasitic infestations.
The second group of serious diseases in the 21st century is a group of herpes viral infections. These infections themselves can be both acute and chronic. If they become chronic, they can inhibit the immune system during prolonged activation. And then the child’s immune system does not have enough strength to fight new cold viruses. And such children can also carry either transients, temporary immunodeficiency, or it can linger for months, sometimes even years.
How stress affects a child’s immune system
What else can cause a baby to move and lead to a state of frequent sickness? It’s stressful situations. Often enough, we may not even realize that a child can carry stress. When he goes to a children’s group, it can be a psychological stress for him. And such a condition, such as prolonged stress, can also lead to a decrease in immunity. Any infectious disease, any viral infection can pull a train of some kind of protracted immunodeficiency condition, which can lead a child to a state of frequent illness.
In addition to stress, connective tissue is also very important. Human beings are made up of 80% connective tissue. Unfortunately, today about 45% of children are born with undifferentiated connective tissue dysplasia. These tissues permeate the entire body, unite the human body into a single whole – blood vessels, blood, and immune system cells are also representatives of connective tissue, if a child is born with such features, he will more often than other children fall into the group of frequently ill.
What else is important? It’s important to understand if the child has a hidden chronic illness. Because any latent chronic disease – kidney problem, lung problem, bronchial problem – any chronic pathology in a child can cause a state of being sick frequently. And this will manifest itself as frequent respiratory problems, at first. Then, of course, the clinical picture begins to emerge more clearly in the disease of the organ that triggered the private disease.
What should I do if my child is often sick?
Figure out the problem!
So how to deal with the whole problem if your child is often sick with colds? If these diseases often end up either otitis, or bronchitis, or maxillary sinusitis, with the fact that the child is not just often sick, but also for a long time. It is considered normal for a normal respiratory infection to end within five days, seven days at most. On average, it takes three to five days for a child to be unable to go to children’s groups. Anything longer than that indicates that there is something wrong with the immune system.
During the consultation you will be able to voice your problem, the doctor will clarify the situation, decipher the tests, answer your questions and make the necessary recommendations.
Quite often parents ask me what to take their child to restore immunity? If only it were that simple. You could give a “magic” pill, and everything would be fine. In fact, it can be much more complicated and problematic. It is important that this “magic” pill, even if it is found, is normally absorbed, reaches the place of application, in particular the bone marrow, in order to allow the immune system cells to recover, these cells need to mature quickly. That is why when working with sick children who already have immune deficiencies, I tell the parents right away that at least three months, maybe six, or even three years are needed before the child can be considered almost healthy. Next I just want to tell you step by step what to do in these situations
1. It is necessary to identify all chronic sources of disease in the child, if any.
2. x-ray them thoroughly. It may be necessary to involve narrow specialists.
4. Need to “feed” the immune system. Choose vitamin and mineral complexes, antioxidants, saturated fatty acids and amino acids. The baby is growing, he has a positive balance, he needs building materials for building young new cells for all tissues and organs, as well as for the immune system. And it is no coincidence that one of the causes of immune deficiency conditions is starvation, particularly protein starvation. Because protein starvation is bound to lead to deficiencies in immune system function.
Also do not forget about the general, well-known rules, such as: tempering the child, work on the restoration of the psychological state, the timely neutralization of stress, protective regime of the developing person. If all of this is done in combination, the child will quite quickly leave the group of those often ill, but I always say “well cured is what is correctly diagnosed”. So to do self-treatment in this situation and try to somehow rehabilitate the child on your own would be wrong.
Why you need to take a walk in the fresh air every day
In any disease, one of the doctor’s prescriptions is a walk in the fresh air. Doctors recommend it during the recovery period, to boost immunity, and in the midst of the disease, including in the case of pathologies of the musculoskeletal system. How relevant are walks and why is it worth sticking to this recommendation?
Walking in the fresh air – not a whim of our body, but a vital necessity
5 reasons to walk outdoors
№ 1. Walking strengthens the immune system.
This is the belief in Japan, the country with the largest concentration of long-livers in the world. In traditional Japanese medicine, there is a method of shinrin-yoku, or “bathing among the forests. If it is believed, during a normal walk in the woods, the amount of anti-tumor substances in the body increases, due to our inhalation of phytoncides. Tree essential oils inhibit the growth and development of pathogenic bacteria. This explains this effect.
In addition, a walk in the woods reduces stress and effectively fights chronic fatigue syndrome, which is typical for all residents of large cities. Blood pressure is normalized and the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, is reduced.
When you walk in the woods, the trees take care of your health
№ 2. Walking reduces the risk of depression.
Depressive moods haunt people during the cold seasons of fall and winter. People undergoing treatment for osteoarthritis are more susceptible to them than others. Stanford University researchers concluded that an hour and a half walk in the woods reduces the activity of the part of the brain responsible for negative emotions and depression.
Even if you live far from the woods, you can walk just around the neighborhood. This will also relieve you of depression. In a big city this is even more relevant, because megapolis residents are subject to depressive states, according to statistics, by 20-40% more than rural residents.
№ 3. Walking improves memory and helps you concentrate.
So say researchers at the University of Michigan. True, they recommend walking in the woods, not in the city. This is especially true for children with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder. After spending a long time outdoors, they are able to concentrate better.
№ 4. Sleep improves.
People diagnosed with arthritis of the knee joint or any other often suffer from insomnia because they are bothered by pain at night. After a walk, this problem is partially solved. According to statistics, those who are outdoors a lot, sleep on average 46 minutes longer than others.
The more you walk, the sounder you sleep.
№ 5. Walking improves family relationships.
Another helpful bonus. Researchers from the University of Illinois concluded that families with frequent long walks outdoors are stronger and friendlier, and they have a favorable psychological atmosphere. Therefore, it is very useful for physical and mental health to spend time together outside, such as going for a morning run. If you have arthritis of the hip and running is contraindicated to you, replace it with walking together at a moderate pace or riding a bicycle.
There are so many reasons to walk outdoors. For example, in this video you will learn as many as 12 of them!
How the fresh air is good for you
Ideally, you should walk in the fresh air in the woods or in the mountains. City air is poisoned by tobacco smoke, car exhaust and industrial emissions. In the woods, you breathe in substances with a strong antibacterial effect and get healthier. What happens high up in the mountains?
Due to the low pressure, there is less oxygen in the mountain air, so a person who inhales it, subconsciously activates the reserve forces of the body. The blood circulation improves, the work of the lungs and chest is activated. There is a risk of developing hypoxia, so it is better not to experiment with this. After a walk in the mountains, most of us feel a boost of physical and emotional strength.
Walking in the mountains is a powerful source of recovery
How much walking you should do
You should start with 10 minutes a day, gradually increasing the time to half an hour. Then the duration of the daily walk should reach one to two hours. There are no limits. Some people spend up to 6 hours in the fresh air, and from this only benefit. The main thing is that a walk should bring positive emotions, not tense and not overworked.
Scientists believe that you should walk at least 5 km every day.
How to walk properly: some tips
Not everyone has a park or a forest, and there is very little free time. Do you really have to give up walking to work? Start with the road to work: there is certainly a way to get over a part of the way on foot. If possible, use your lunch break for walks.
Go out into nature as much as possible on weekends and holidays. Plan trips for a change of scenery and just to walk in a new area. It is not necessary to go to expensive resorts: a neighboring town or village with a favorable natural environment will do for this purpose.
For more walking, get yourself a four-legged friend. Many people who walk with their dogs are fit and physically fit, since they have to go for daily walks.
A pedometer can help you control your walking distance.
Six more arguments for daily walks
- During regular walks, blood circulation is active, so congestion gradually goes away. If you have joint problems, the pain will become less pronounced.
- Even if you walk 10-15 minutes every day, with no days off, the risk of premature death is reduced by 15%, the risk of cardiovascular disease by 35%, and the risk of type 2 diabetes by 40%.
- People over the age of 60, who make up the main risk group for arthritis, notice the positive effects of regular walks more than younger people.
- Walking outdoors improves the digestive system and helps burn calories. Since orthopedists recommend weight loss for arthritis, walking is a very effective method, especially when combined with a diet.
- Vitamin D, which is essential for the functioning of the musculoskeletal system, is synthesized in our body only under the influence of ultraviolet light – in the open air. So if you do not go for a walk, it will quickly become deficient.
- For children, walks in the open air – a good prevention of myopia. A child should look away often and as often as possible to break away from the screens of gadgets.
If you still have doubts about whether or not to go, cast aside your doubts. Pack up and go for a walk, breathe fresh air, try to distract yourself from anxious thoughts. Walking is good for people of any age, including the presence of joint disease. As a nice bonus, get a boost of energy and a good mood!