When it comes to antibiotics, the medical profession is finally making a shift. Remember when you were a child, every time you got sick, had a bad cough, fever, or flu, you’d head to the doctors and be prescribed a round (or more) or antibiotics? Sometimes it would help, but other times it wouldn’t. The overprescribing of antibiotics for unrealized viral infections still exist today, however there’s an ever evolving recognition that, most times, when your child gets sick, rather than a bacterial infection, it’s a virus that has likely taken hold. All this being said, the big question exists: when my child is sick, how do I effectively treat a viral infection?


Bacterial Versus Viral Infection, How Do I Know? 

Knowing the difference between whether your child has a bacterial or viral infection can be tough. Both types of infections can present almost exactly the same (severe cough, fever, sore throat, body pain, chills etc.). The difference between the two is that a bacterial infection can often be successfully treated using antibiotics, whereas if it’s a viral infection, antibiotic treatment won’t work. Given most parents are not medically trained, it’s best to leave the diagnosing to a doctor. While most colds and flu’s are viral in nature, it’s critical to have your child assessed if you feel his or her symptoms are becoming progressively worse or your child has any of the following symptoms: difficulty breathing, unrelenting cough, stabbing pain in the ribs/chest, severe vomiting or unrelenting diarrhea, rib retraction, listlessness, child is not responding, excessive sleepiness etc.). Otherwise, although tough, most viral infections will become self limiting and eventually resolve on their own, or, with the help of effective naturopathic care, heal much more quickly and healthfully. 


Why Are Viruses So Difficult To Treat?

Viruses, unlike bacterial infections, are much smaller in size and tend to hide inside of human cells. Given the location of most viruses inside the body, it is much more difficult for conventional medicines to reach. And of course, as already mentioned, antibiotics will not kill a virus. Viruses, once inside of a cell, are fully protected by the cell that they now inhabit. They use your cells as a force field of sorts. And to a viruses benefit, once inside of your cells, it can easily replicate, grow and infect adjacent cells around it without a fight. This is an extremely effective way for viruses to quickly spread and take over your body. And as already discussed, when your child is dealing with a common viral infection (such as the flu or a severe cold), there are no medications that your doctor can provide that will reach or kill the virus that has taken hold. The best resolve conventional medicine can accomplish is to prescribe medications that help treat and manage the symptoms (such as excessively high fever, difficulty breathing, or non stop cough), all things vital and essential to be addressed in a severely symptomatic child. Thankfully, unlike allopathic pharmaceutical drugs, naturopathic medicine uses natural and effective compounds which work differently than a conventional drug, and can actually target the virus, stop it from dividing, and kill it before it continues to spread.


Anti Viral Treatment For Your Child 

When it comes to effectively targeting your child’s common viral infection, pharmaceutical drugs can not directly target or treat it with success. Short of symptom management, watching and waiting for your child’s immune system to fight it on its own is the best that can be hoped for (which is not always fun for parent or child). Thankfully naturopathic medicine can effectively support the immune system, and treat and manage the symptoms and the viral infection itself.


To effectively treat your child’s virus, here are the key strategies to incorporate during the course of the infection:

  1. Fever – A fever is healthy. Treat the fever based on your child’s symptoms, and not the fever itself (if your child is alert, and doing well, antipyretics are not always needed to suppress your child’s temperature, and you can often support the fever and allow it to run its course).
  2. Rest – Sleep and rest is the key to anti viral success.
  3. Hydration – Keep your child well hydrated. Limit sugary drinks, and stick to water, coconut water, lemon water, ginger ale, or half and half water and organic juice.
  4. Limit food – Your child’s appetite has likely become limited. Offer small amounts of foods here and there, however not being hungry is the body’s way of helping starve the virus.
  5. Ensure your child is going pee – Regular trips to the washroom ensures your child is still hydrated.
  6. Natural anti virals – such as Andrographis, Elderberry syrup or therapeutic doses of Vitamin A.
  7. Address the symptoms – For cough, fever, sore throat, or otherwise, you have the option to use conventional or naturopathic medicines, or both, if or when needed.
  8. Support the immune system – Use the above recommendations, as well as many other herbs or naturopathic medicines. 
  9. If symptoms become severe or progressively worse, call your ND, family doctor or head to the emergency room for care. 

*Your naturopathic doctor is highly versed and experienced on safely and effectively addressing all of the above. **

Your child’s viral infection can cause a lot of stress and discomfort, not only on him or her, but on you ,as the parent as well. Rest assured, however, that between your family doctor and naturopathic physician, your child will more quickly improve and be much more comfortable along the way. 

If naturopathic medicine is a consideration in treating your child, never self prescribe, and always call your naturopathic doctor right away so your child can be properly treated, supervised and managed from start to finish.