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Healthy and Happy Summertime for Kids
June 26, 2014
By Dr Corinne Harpster, ND Naturopathic Physician in Bellevue, WA
Hi everyone, here are some tips for helping your kids have a happy and healthy summertime, plus some great herbs for helping to cool you off in the heat.
One of the great things about summer for kids is they generally are a lot healthier for a combination of reasons including being outside more and not being around a bunch of other kids in a small room and bringing home the latest and greatest cold for everyone in the family to share.
The top reasons I see kids in my office for acute issues in the summer:
Excess sun exposure
Allergies: we are blessed with a bounty of green growing things here in the Pacific Northwest but all that pollen flying around can definitely lead to allergic reactions which include runny/stuffy noses, irritated/goopy eyes, coughs, skin reactions, headaches, tummy aches, itchy ears and/or mouth, diarrhea, behavioral issues, fatigue.
Some of my favorite treatments for kids’ environmental allergies: vitamin C, quercetin, nettles, rinsing off the pollen before bed (this might even include a nasal rinse depending on how badly your child is affected by pollen: always use clean filtered water and follow the directions of the sinus rinse product), removing other things the immune system is reacting to like food sensitivities and allergies.
Excess sun exposure: this is definitely possible even in our cloudier, rainier climes. The sun is at its strongest in the middle of the day and here in the Pacific Northwest it is currently at the right angle for 1) helping us all make vitamin D (yay!) and 2) leading to burns much more quickly (boo!). Children are much more affected by both sunburn and heatstroke because of their much larger surface area. It is imperative that children not be left in hot cars for an extended period of time. Cars can heat up to over 20 degrees F more than the external temperature. So if it’s a really warm day in the PNW you can see car temperatures up to 110* F. Kids can’t cool themselves off well compared to adults and heat that high can be very dangerous, possibly life threatening.
Ways to protect your child against sunburn and heat stroke:
While I am a huge proponent of getting sun exposure unimpeded by sunscreen your child can make enough vitamin D from 15 minutes of direct sun and then after that you will most likely want to put on a cover-up of some sort or get out of direct sun.
Infants under the age of 1 are better off with sun protection being from sun hats, lightweight long sleeve clothing and shade. Make sure they are well hydrated.
Certain herbs have a cooling/refrigerant effect on the body, these herbs include but are not limited to: Hibiscus (Hibiscus), Chickweed (Stellaria), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) Peppermint (Mentha piperita) as well as other mints. You can make teas of these herbs and store them in your refrigerator for a kid-friendly, delicious, refreshing, thirst quenching and body temperature lowering drink.
Ways to protect your children from injuries:
Injuries are the leading cause of death for children aged 19 years and younger in the United States. Practically all of these injuries are preventable with proper safety measures being used including:
Use of helmets and protective pads while bicycling, skateboarding, etc.
Teaching your children about traffic safety.
Proper use of playground equipment.
Keeping poisons out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet. This includes alcohol, medications, botanical medicines, supplements, cleaning products and household chemicals such as paints and antifreeze.
Teaching your children about gun safety, even if you don’t have guns in your own home and having conversations about gun safety with the adults of households your children are visiting.
Dr Corinne Harpster, ND is a naturopathic physician who has extensive training in herbal medicine. She is currently accepting patients at SageMED in the Factoria area of Bellevue, WA.
Information included here or elsewhere on this website is not to be considered treatment or diagnosis of any particular disease or condition. Always consult your health care practitioner before undertaking any new health regimen.