Has your child caught the back-to-school bug?

Tips to support immunity and help children recover

Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

02 November 2021

Why do kids get sick when they go back to school?

After having had spent time away from school, it seems a shame that so many children return to school only to be plagued by various illnesses – the common cold, a cough, tummy bugs or other viral infections. So why does this happen?

Normally during school holidays these children have been out and about, coming into contact with all kinds of different people and places, and maybe even traveling abroad. It seems inevitable that they'll pick up some bugs along the way, and as soon as everyone is back in the same building within close proximity to each other, these bugs can quickly spread. Just ask a teacher!

Then, after the funny year or two we've had, unfortunately, their immune system may not be so used to so many bugs, and our resilience may even have dropped slightly. For more information on the 'Super Cold' that has been circulating recently, click here for more info.

The first few weeks or even months at school can also wear younger children out after being away for some time, leaving them a bit tired, run down and vulnerable to infection.

What can I do to help my child recover?

The most important things you can do for any type of common illness is to make sure your child gets plenty of rest, feed them nourishing food and keep a close eye on their symptoms.

Don’t be afraid to keep them off school for a day or two too – not only will this help them recover, but it will also reduce the risk of other children catching the same bug. 

Make sure they eat lots of fruit and vegetables – one of the easiest ways to do this is through a tasty soup or smoothie. This broccoli, kale and potato soup is packed full of immune-boosting vitamin C! Other vitamin c rich foods include oranges, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, strawberries and grapefruit. This will help to strengthen the immune system to fight off the illness quicker.

If you're struggling to get enough vitamin C into your kid's diet, try our Nature-C vitamin C supplement for kids which can be used by children aged 4 and over.

Staying hydrated is important too, especially if your child is suffering from a tummy bug. The common recommendations for water intake are:

  • 5-8 year olds = 1 litre
  • 9-12 year olds = 1.5 litres
  • 13+ years = 1.5-2 litres

Remember, however, that if a child has a fever, vomiting or diarrhoea, they will need extra water to replace lost fluids. Just be sure to keep liquids away from food as much as possible, to help keep your little ones' digestion suitably strong.

What natural remedies can help my child?

Depending on what illness your child is recovering from, there may be a few herbal remedies that can help.

As well as eating well, a chewable vitamin C supplement can help put your mind at rest that your child is getting enough vitamin C to get them through these high-risk times. Nature-C contains naturally occurring vitamin C from extracts of 6 real fruits.

A.Vogel Nature-C for Kids

£7.49 (24 tablets) In Stock Get it tomorrow, 23rd February.

For a chesty, mucous cough, I would recommend Bronchoforce oral drops, but only for children over 12 years old I’m afraid! 

For a dry, tickly cough, we have A.Vogel's Cough Spray for kids. This is particularly useful for those lingering coughs that stick around after the cold has cleared up and is suitable for kids over 4 years.

Our customer-favourite Echinaforce range is only suitable for those over 12 as well. However, teenagers can also experience the back-to-school bug so the Echinaforce drops, chewable tablets or Hot Drink would be a good option for them. Echinaforce is a great choice for colds, flu and other general respiratory infections.

For a blocked or runny nose, Sinuforce Nasal Spray can be used by children over the age of 2.

When should I seek medical assistance?

If your child’s symptoms do not improve within a week or if they get steadily worse over 3 or 4 days, then you should take them to see a doctor.

If they have a high fever, rash, breathing difficulties, persistent vomiting or persistent diarrhoea, then you should also seek medical assistance. 

How to prevent back-to-school bugs in the future

Diet is a vital part of immune function, so make sure your child is eating plenty of fresh, brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. This should be an important part of their diet anyway, but it is particularly important in the week running up to the start of school, as well as during the first few weeks. Pack a fresh smoothie or piece of fruit with their packed lunch, and make sure dinner is packed full of fresh veggies.

You should also encourage your child to wash their hands frequently while at school – every time they use the bathroom, as well as before eating. Remember that a quick rinse in cold water doesn’t count! Teach them to use hot, soapy water. 

During the school term, make sure your child gets plenty of sleep, as this will keep their immune system strong and healthy.

For some more advice, read my article on keeping your child’s immune system strong.  

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Sinuforce - For the relief of nasal catarrh, nasal congestion and a runny nose.
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