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  • Writer's pictureAku Energija

My Child Is Getting Sick All The Time And What Can I Do? Tips From TCM

Parents often despair that their young children are catching whatever’s going around like common colds, ear infections, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and in severe case even pneumonia. Worse still, kids the pathogens back home and pass it on to their siblings and parents too. [Read more: The Flu Season And The Causes Of Infection From A TCM Perspective]

Both conventional and Chinese medicine acknowledge that it’s normal for children to experience common colds more frequently than adults, because their immune systems are still developing. But instead of passively waiting for your kids to have a stronger immune system, TCM could offer some useful tips to proactively improve their immune power and stop with this miserable infection loop.[Read more: TCM approach for the common cold] [Read more: TCM vs Western Medicine]

Understanding Defensive Qi

TCM theory indicates that children have relatively weaker lung, kidney and spleen systems, which can compromise their overall immunity. A weak lung system increases the likelihood of respiratory illnesses, while a weak spleen system makes one prone to digestive illnesses. That is why children often catch colds and have stomach upsets.

In TCM, healthy Qi defends against external pathogens. It is a specific form of life force energy called defensive Qi which acts as a protective barrier at the body's surface (including the skin, throat and nasal passages). When the flow of Qi in systems is not optimal, their function is weakened. In a vicious cycle, the depletion of Defensive Qi further weakens their resistance, making them more prone to further illness.

Defensive Qi are weak for a number of reasons:

Better Habits For Stronger Immunity

TCM practitioners generally advocate a holistic and sustainable approach to building a strong immune system. TCM theory realizes that “children get sick easily, but also recover easily”. Very often, children do not meet medicine at all provided they are in proper care. Here are some key points for parents:

  1. Protect your body’s Qi Dress warmly, layer up. We are too comfortable with cars and indoor heating and we only one big thick winter coat then thin layer inside. In fact, a more appropriate way is too dress a few layers that you can easily adjust according to the temperature. Remember to always cover the neck, back, knees and feet. [Read more: TCM Treatment For Cold Hands and Feet]

  2. Turn down your heating This seems contradicting to point 1. But if you think logically, having an overly warm indoor environment is exactly why we do not need to layer up. Just like the wild animals which build up a thick layer of fur in winter, the human body also makes adjustment for the winter time. Our skin naturally “closes up” and builds defense for the coldness. However, living in an overly warm environment will make the body’s guard down thus “over-open our skin” make the Defensive Qi less tight so the external pathogens can attack us.

  3. Breathe through your nose Not only does this help warm and ‘filter’ the air, breathing through your mouth is also believed to gradually exhaust your digestive (i.e. Qi-producing) system in the TCM understanding. For whatever reason, a cold or allergies, if your nose is blocked, it is time to seek help. Acupuncture and TCM herbal remedies are useful in this regard. [Read more: Qi deficiency: What is it and how do you manage it?]

  4. Get lots of rest and sleep In average, children need more sleep than adults. Toddlers (1–2 years): 11–14 hours, including naps. Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours, including naps. School-age (6–13 years): 9–12 hours. A regular bedtime routine starting around the same time each night encourages good sleep patterns. Avoid screen time, eating and physically or intellectually intense activities before bedtime. A bedtime routine of bath, story and bed can help younger children feel ready for sleep. For older children and teenagers, the routine might include quietly chatting with you, turning off digital technology, having a shower, listening to music or reading, and turning out the light.

  5. Keep a calm, kind, and supportive environment at home Emotions can affect Defensive Qi. Engage with your children regularly like daily playtime and family meals. Practice gratitude to nature the inner strength of children. [Read more: Practicing gratitude brings health benefits]

  6. Wash hands, but do not over clean Minimize spread of pathogens by washing your hands with running water and soap regularly. And yet, do not over sterilize every single objects around your kids. Getting sick is a necessary way to build up their immune system. A overly clean environment will make immune system weaker because the immune army do not have enough practice and gradually building up memory- antibodies in modern term- for fighting pathogens.

  7. Exercise moderately and regularly The amount of physical activity children need depends on their age. Children ages 3 through 5 years need to be active throughout the day. Children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 need to be active for 60 minutes every day. Make physical activity part of a child's Life. This can easily be achieved by walking or cycling rather than cars, helping out with housework within their capacity, going to the playground, etc. [Read more: Ba Duan Jin: The Eight Brocades] [Read more: The benefits of Tai Chi]

  8. Eat with the season As the weather gets colder, eat more warm, cooked foods, and cook them for longer periods of time (e.g. roasting, baking, slow-cooker). Raw salads, cold sandwiches, and cold cereals in the morning can all impair your body’s ability to produce strong Qi. [Read more: Winter Breakfast for Cold Winter Mornings] [Read more: Winter solstice: Insights and healthcare tips]

  9. Minimize unbalance foods Dairy products (particularly yogurt), sweets, cold and raw foods often take away our warmth and power thus slow down our Qi circulation. On the contrary, deep fried food, strong flavoured food like over salty and spicy food can over stimulate the power. It might result in more frequent high fever. [Read more: Cook your food - digestive system explained in Traditional Chinese medicine]

  10. Have a daily routine There is no better way to keep track of all our healthy habits than make them a rountine. Even better, synchromize our daily rountine with our body rythme. [Read more: Circadian Rhythms and the Chinese Medicine Body Clock (1/2)] [Read more: Circadian Rhythms and the Chinese Medicine Body Clock (2/2)] [Read more: When you eat is just as important as what you eat]


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