According to FDA.gov “contagious viruses are active year-round, fall and winter are when we’re all most vulnerable to them.” So what can we do to stay healthy this winter? Renowned pediatrician and Zarbee’s Naturals founder, Dr. Zak Zarbock joined me for an interview on Friday to discuss how your entire family can avoid getting sick this season, what to do if your child catches a cold or gets the flu, and how to tell if he or she should stay home from school (and when it’s fine to go back) and treatment options.
Candace Rose: What can families do to stay healthy this winter?
Dr. Zak Zarbock: “There are a lot of things that families can do to stave off some of the viruses that we see causing the cold and flu. In particular, trying to avoid the standby by washing your hands. I think we forget the importance of doing that at those key times, especially as kids are coming home from school or daycare or as we come home from work- a great time to make sure we’re preventing the spread of those viruses. Also as we get cooped up at home sometimes we get forget about getting adequate exercise, you hear it all the time but it really does help our immune system. Our diet can be very effective too- cutting back on some of the sugar can boost the immune system, and increasing vitamin D. We don’t see as much light in the winter months, and so making sure we’re getting enough in our diet or adding in a supplement of vitamin D can be very effective in reducing the incidents of coughs and colds.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any advice for parents whose child gets sick?
Dr. Zak Zarbock: “It’s always hard in knowing what to do for a child, certainly when they get cold symptoms trying to keep the airways clear can be key and so using a good nasal saline spray in very young children, and even following that with a bulb syringe to try and clear up some of the mucus.
Hydration is very important, to keep our bodies healthy and to thin the mucus to get rid of it. And then controlling the cough. That’s key to help kids rest and recover, and so using a natural cough remedy- we use the Buckwheat Honey in our Zarbee’s which has been clinically proven to be more effective than the traditional cough medicine. All of those things can help kids when they get sick.”
Candace Rose: When is it safe for children to go to school? And when is it best for them to stay home and just recover?
Dr. Zak Zarbock: “I tried to put together some stoplight tips for this, and really the red light is when they’ve got the fever they should be home…once the fever has been gone for about 24 hours, it’s okay to go back. When the cough is less than a few times an hour, it’s probably fine to send them back.
Looking back at the green mucus and excessive runny nose, we want to see that clear and going away. Also energy level- when the child looks sick, they should be at home. As they start to perk back up and show that energy level recovering, they’re typically okay to be back at school.”
Candace Rose: The FDA’s put many traditional cough and cold medicines under scrutiny and deemed them unsafe for young children. Has this changed the number of visits to the E.R.?
Dr. Zak Zarbock: “Absolutely. This was a great ruling by the FDA, it dramatically reduced the incidents of problems and overdose and the misuse of these medications. What we’ve found is they really are ineffective in kids, and knowing that they’re potentially harmful, we shouldn’t be giving cough medicines to young children.
This is an issue that I felt passionate enough about to want to create a solution for my own patients as well as my own children in putting together the Zarbee’s cough products to help provide a solution where so many of these things have been deemed harmful.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Dr. Zak Zarbock: “I tried to put some tips on my website at Zarbees.com, great ways to keep our families healthy and to keep us from needing to get to the doctor when we can. Also, tips there to know when to see the doctor, so you can check those out at Zarbees.com.”