A definition of Juvenile Scleroderma in simple, easy to understand language
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Keeping Children Healthy During Cold and Flu Season
By, Julie S. James, CNC

It is normal for children, whose immune systems aren’t fully developed, to get as many as 8 to 10 colds a year (about twice as many as adults). Children’s colds aren’t necessarily a sign of poor health—kids bring colds home from school, and it is hard for them to avoid getting sick during the winter months. Getting sick can be part of a child’s normal process of building resistance to disease. But it is no fun, and should be avoided whenever possible.

Colds and flu are caused by viruses transmitted from an infected person by sneezing or coughing, or by physical contact with a person or contaminated objects, such as telephones, money, pens or foods. As the virus increases, mucous membranes in the respiratory tract swell and mucous production increases, causing air passages to narrow and making breathing difficult. Along with the usual fever, muscle aches, nausea, headache, chills, dry cough, runny nose and sore throat, one can end up feeling generally lousy.

Go to a doctor if your child has severe symptoms, but for the “common cold”, a doctor wont be able to help you. Antibiotics are of no use in treatment of viruses, and we still have no “cure” for the cold or flu.

With cold and flu season upon us, it is important that we focus now on prevention of these illnesses; after all, the best offense is a good defense--the best way to fight a cold is to avoid getting it in the first place.

So what is our best defense strategy? Following the recommendations below can go a long way towards reducing infection:

  1. Wash your hands often, at least 4 times per day. Use regular soap, not antibacterial (regular soap and hot water will do just as well, unless you have a severe infectious condition). This simple action has been shown in clinical studies to reduce cold and flu by up to 40%!

  2. Get enough sleep. Inadequate rest increases stress and lowers immunity.

  3. Get some exercise every day. Exercise strengthens immunity and increases oxygen in the bloodstream, which is deadly to most viruses and bacteria. Do not, however, engage in strenuous exercise when sick, which can just depress the immune system even more.

  4. Eat well. A variety of healthy foods provide a wide range of nutrients, which supports general health. Those with a limited diet, especially those who eat little or no fruits and vegetables, should take a natural, high quality multivitamin and mineral to supply the nutrients they aren’t getting in their diet. Stay away from sugars, even in fruit juices, while sick, as they weaken the system. If your child wants fruit juice, try mixing it with half as much water to dilute the natural sugars. One serving of sugary foods can suppress immune response for as long as five hours. Sodas are especially bad culprits: 12 ounces of soda can contain as much as 9 teaspoons of sugar! Discontinue all wheat and dairy products while ill, as the proteins in these foods may cause an increase in mucous production.

  5. Drink lots of water. Water helps our body to eliminate toxins, reduces body temperature and thins secretions, making coughs more productive.

  6. Get outside. Ultraviolet light (UVB from sunlight) has been used successfully to treat viral pneumonia, blood infections and a range of other viral, bacterial and fungal infections. 20 minutes a day can have a very beneficial impact on immunity. 

In addition to these measures, there are certain nutrients that will help your body to fight off infection. Vitamin C is of course the first vitamin one thinks of when a cold attacks and no wonder! C has been shown to decrease the duration and severity of the common cold in otherwise healthy people. C stimulates the action of white blood cells, and your body uses up a tremendous amount of vitamin C when ill. Vitamin C rich foods include red bell peppers, fresh citrus fruits, berries, raw broccoli, papaya, and kiwi. Remember that heating and processing destroy vitamin C, so have all these foods fresh. Vitamin A (beta-carotene) supports the health of the immune system and maintains the mucous membranes, which are the first line of defense against infection. Foods high in beta-carotene are sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupes, apricots, tomatoes, winter squash, tuna and green vegetables. Beta-carotene is easier to absorb from cooked foods than raw, so lightly steam those carrots before eating to get the full benefit of the nutrition! Zinc promotes a healthy immune system, is anti-viral and anti-bacterial, and helps with wound healing. Zinc is found in whole grains, seafood (especially clams, crabs, oysters and salmon), red meats, dark poultry meat, and nuts and seeds.

Herbs can be of great benefit in support of your immune system, but don’t use herbs on young children without proper supervision and a recommendation from a trusted health resource. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though: Garlic can be used liberally in your cooking, where it acts as a powerful antibiotic, killing off a great variety of harmful viruses and bacteria. Peppermint tea can be used to reduce nasal stuffiness (drink a cup, or just inhale the vapors from steaming cup of tea. Both are helpful). Cinnamon has been shown to fight a wide range of harmful organisms, and can help break up congestion. Sprinkle some on applesauce or hot cereal, or add to hot drinks (try some hot apple juice-diluted with water, of course-with a cinnamon stick). You have probably heard of the well-known herb Echinacea for treatment of cold and flu and it is, indeed, a great herbal ally for most people. However, it is not recommended for use with conditions such as scleroderma or any autoimmune disorders, as it may overstimulate the immune system indiscriminately.

Keeping our children healthy and safe is our primary job as parents. Following these simple measures will pay off by strengthening our children’s resistance to disease, and will set good habits for the future.

Please keep in mind, this webpage is for your information only.
Please check with your child's physician for any treatments.

For more information on Juvenile Scleroderma, contact:

Juvenile Scleroderma Network, Inc.
1204 W. 13th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731

Tel: (310)519-9511 (Pacific Time)
24 Hour Support Line: 1-866-338-5892 (toll-free)

Speak to another JSD parent for emotional and logistical support provided by home-based JSD volunteers. For medical advice, please contact your child's physician.

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Updated March 3, 2008
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