We spoke with Dr. Zak Zarbock about what parents can do to effectively prevent and treat colds and flus in their little one this season. Find out what Dr. Zarbock suggests, below.
New Parent: Is it true that there’s a cold and flu “season.” If so, why are children more prone to catch a cold or flu during this time?
Dr. Zak Zarbock: Yes, there is a “cold and flu season.” True, the cold and flu can hit anyone at any time of the year, but research suggests that the cold and flu viruses are more prevalent in the winter. Cold and flu viruses thrive off of colder, drier weather and are less rampant in warmer, more humid conditions.
Children are more prone than adults to catch a cold or flu, in both the on and off season. They can get between 6-12 colds a year. Kids are more susceptible because their immune systems are still developing, they get more exposure to other children and objects that carry the virus, and they are less aware of germs (and personal hygiene) than adults.
What’s the easiest way for children catch colds/flus?
Exposure to other sick children and objects (such as toys, handlebars, stair rails, etc.) is how children contract viruses more quickly and more commonly than adults. Although we all are exposed to numerous germs in a day, children’s immune systems—especially infants—aren’t developed enough to fight off a virus as easily.
What’s the best way to prevent them?
Washing your hands regularly is the single most important thing you can do to prevent germs from spreading. Although you can’t be protected from every germ this way, frequent hand washing (for at least twenty seconds) has been known to decrease contracting and spreading viruses. This can be a challenge with children, but try and make it a practice. You can even make it fun by creating a game or competition. If you’re out and about and hand washing is impossible, hand sanitizer can be used. You don’t need to go overboard, but just being a little more aware during the cold and flu season can really help. Also, on the top of the list of prevention techniques is making sure you’re family is taking vitamins, such as Vitamin C and Zinc. And don’t forget the importance of proper nutrition, such as fruits and veggies that are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals.
As a doctor, what do you think is the best thing a parent can do to treat their child’s cold or flu?
Throughout my career as a pediatrician, I have counseled thousands of parents on how to treat their child’s cold or flu. What I have discovered is that the safest and most effective way to treat your child is using natural remedies. Avoid using drug-based cold and flu medicine. They contain chemicals that can be harmful to children’s bodies, and they are often ineffective. Instead, use natural remedies to soothe coughs and sore throats, and supplement that with liquids, vitamins, and a healthy dose of rest. And, as always, prevention is the best remedy.
Zak Zarbock, M.D. is one of the country’s top pediatricians and the Founder and President of Zarbee’s, an all-natural children’s cough and cold treatment line.
As one of the nation’s leading experts on treating coughs and colds in children, Dr. Zak, as he is known, was invited to participate in the September 2010 FDA hearing on Capitol Hill and speak about the potential dangers of cough syrup. Dr. Zak is also a regular guest on TV and radio shows and serves as a resource for reporters writing stories about pediatric issues.
A member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Zak practices medicine at Families First Pediatrics in South Jordan, Utah.