The health and safety of my children is the most important thing to me. When I planned our move to Spain, I didn’t consider how our new environment would affect our immune system. Keeping my kids healthy while traveling in a new environment took more planning than I prepared for.
Moving to a new environment with different pathogens, germs, bacteria, pollen, plants, etc,can wreck havoc on your immune system. This resulted in us getting sick all of the time. Nothing serious, but enough to make us feel bad. Cough, sore throat, runny nose and fevers.
For some people, changing environments helps their chronic sicknesses, for us, the new environment is really “testing” our immune system.
Examples of sickness when moving to a new environment.
- Allergies (Hay fever, etc)
- Indigestion – due to different foods your body needs to get use to.
- Diarrhea – due to different foods and maybe the water
And if you have kids in school, forget-about-it, you may have all of the above at the same time.
How To Strengthen Your Immune System
Table of Contents
- 1 How To Strengthen Your Immune System
- 2 Medicine For Allergies (For Adults)
- 3 Age-by-age child medicine chart
- 4 How To Find Medicine when you are an expat
- 5 What I am using
So, if you are changing your environment whether it’s 150 miles away or 2500 miles away, along with preparing for all you need to move successfully, you need to protect and strengthen your immune system.
This will not prevent all sickness but it will help you avoid some and get you back on your feet faster.
First, I had to recognize when I was getting sick. Half of the time, I didn’t realize I was getting sick and thought it was allergies. I am prone to allergies so I just brushed it off as nothing out of the normal. Suddenly, I am in bed with a bad cough, headache and a serious debilitating cold. By the time I realize I am sick, I’m a day and a half in. Then, I am scrambling to figure out what to do.
Recognize When You Are Getting Sick
First, you have to recognize when a sickness is coming. If you are prone to allergies or find yourself with allergies, take medicine to combat your allergies. There are different allergy medicines around. Find the one that reacts best with you. I am from America so I know that Claratin and Alegra works best for me. Here in Spain, they do not have the same brands, but they have different brand medicines with the same active ingredients as Claratin and Alegra. Buy them and take them religiously. That way if you are getting sick, you’ll realize it because your allergy is under control.
Be Pro-Active Instead of Re-Active
Start before you have an issue. Strengthen your immune system with vitamins, and supplements. There are many vitamins and supplements that claim to do wonders for your immune system. Try them out and see what works for you. From Airborne, to bee pollen to B vitamins, D vitamins, echinacea, to teas and herbs. Try them, take them and see how it works for your system.
Eat Well and Exercise
Eat a balanced diet and exercise. All the experts say this, but this really bores me. I added it because it’s only right.
But my opinion is….blah blah blah yada yada yada.
Eat healthy food and exercise.
Get A Lot of Rest
This is very important. You have to take care of yourself. The stress of moving is very high, which lowers your immune system. So, rest, sleep and take it easy.
Medicine For Allergies (For Adults)
Over-the-counter allergy medications
Below is a list of allergy medicine to try if you are having problems. I am not a Doctor, so make sure you speak with your Doctor before you take ANY medication. I take no responsibility for you taking any medication. You must understand and speak with your doctor about how these medications can affect you, your individual medical history and your current medication.
Antihistamines (sedating – can make you sleepy)
Antihistamines (non-sedating – does not make you sleepy)
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec, Zyrtec-D)
- Clemastine (Tavist)
- Fexofenadine (Allegra, Allegra D)
- Loratadine (Claritin, Claritin D, Alavert)
Nasal Sprays: Decongestants
- Oxymetazoline (Afrin) – I really dislike Afrin
- Xilometazolina (Rhinovin) I love this one
Vitamins to Boost Your Immune System
Other items to Boost Your Immune System
Medicine for children is more complicated. The medicine you can give your kids depend on their age.
Remember to bring medicine approved by your children’s pediatrician when traveling.
Here is some advice from the baby center website.
Age-by-age child medicine chart
Fever Reducers/Pain RelieversCough and Cold Medicines
Revisit the label as your child gets older because formulations and safe dosages change as your child grows. Also, be aware that drops for infants are three times more concentrated than syrup for toddlers. Manufacturers are phasing out infant drops, but you may still find them on store shelves.Don’t mix medicines so you don’t accidentally give your child too much of any one ingredient. Experts debate the safety and effectiveness of cough and cold medicines in children ages 2 to 5. The issue is currently being evaluated by the FDA.
|Special notes||These will lower your child’s fever and reduce overall discomfort but won’t help with other cold symptoms.|
|Medicines in this category||Acetaminophen||Ibuprofen|
under 3 months
|Call your doctor||Don’t use||Don’t use|
3 to 5 months
|Ask your doctor or see acetaminophen dosing chart||Don’t use||Don’t use|
6 to 23 months
|Ask your doctor or see acetaminophen dosing chart||Ask your doctor or see ibuprofen dosing chart||Don’t use|
2 to 3 years
|Follow label dosing||Follow label dosing||Not recommended, follow label instructions*|
4 to 5 years
|Follow label dosing||Follow label dosing||Okay for now, follow label instructions**|
6 years and older
|Follow label dosing||Follow label dosing||Follow label dosing|
* Drug manufacturers changed their labels in 2008 to advise against use among children ages 2 and 3. Technically, the United States Food and Drug Administration allows use in this age group but may soon recommend against it. (An expert panel agreed this was the best thing for the FDA to do during a vote in 2007.) If you want to use these medicines for your child, call your doctor.
** The FDA allows use in children ages 4 and 5 but may recommend against it (an expert panel agreed this was the best thing for the FDA to do during a vote in 2007). If you want to use these medicines for your child, follow label dosing.
How To Find Medicine when you are an expat
When we moved to Spain, I took a large amount of medicine with us, ‘just in case”. Having those medicines on hand was invaluable when my kids got sick. I didn’t have to worry about finding Advil in a new country.
Tip: Take medicine with you when you travel or move to a new country.
Buying medicine is different in every country. Research your country to find out “how to buy medicine in…”.
Once you understand the system, use the local language to search for what you need. Do not search for the name brand of the medicine from your home country. There are different brands for the same medicine in different countries.
For example, here in Barcelona, Spain, I asked for Advil and Tylenol and the Pharmacist looked at me confused. So, I asked for Ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). That she understood and retrieved it for me.
The Advil and Tylenol were packaged differently than in the USA.
That goes the same for allergy medicine.
I would suggest taking a bottle of medicine to the pharmacy and asking if they have anything comparable. The pharmacist can look and read the active/main ingredients and find a comparable option.
What I am using
- Antihistamine – Cetirizina or loratadine
- Berocca for energy, B vitamins
- Multi vitamin.
I’ll see how they work over the next few months to see if I need to change things up.
What do you use to stay healthy during a move or with kids going to school?