Changing Seasons and how to prevent Diseases in Children
Every time we observe a change in the season, the count of allergens in the environment also spikes, up to nearly 200 viruses in the air, besides other pathogens. These are mostly responsible for getting people under the weather. Several diseases tend to affect children during the winter months due to various factors such as colder temperatures, increased indoor activities, and closer proximity in shared spaces. The shift in temperatures provides an apt condition for different groups of viruses to flourish, which then spread contagious diseases.
The most common of the viruses is human rhinovirus (HRV), which causes up to 40 percent of all colds. They flourish in cooler weather, such as in spring and winter.
The Influenza virus causes flu that divides and spreads mostly when the air is cold and dry, like in winters.
1. Common Cold: Viral infections causing symptoms like a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and occasionally a fever.
2.Influenza (Flu): A highly contagious viral infection leading to symptoms such as fever, body aches, fatigue, cough, and sore throat.
3. Respiratory Infections: Conditions like bronchitis and pneumonia become more prevalent, leading to symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and fever.
The diseases are caused by increased indoor activities and closer proximity among people, which facilitate the spread of viruses causing respiratory illnesses.
4. Asthma Exacerbations: Cold, dry air can trigger asthma attacks in susceptible children, resulting in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The root cause of this disease is inhalation of cold air, which triggers asthma symptoms in children with underlying respiratory conditions.
5. Gastrointestinal Infections: Viral infections like norovirus and rotavirus causing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and fever. This is caused by close contact and sharing of spaces, especially in schools or childcare settings, which increase the likelihood of exposure to gastrointestinal viruses.
6.Seasonal Allergies: Some children might experience allergies even in winter due to indoor allergens like dust mites, mould, and pet dander, leading to symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Dust mites, mould, pet dander present indoors can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible children.
7. Strep Throat: A bacterial infection causing a sore throat, fever, and difficulty swallowing.
8. Ear Infections: Children are prone to ear infections during colder months, often associated with colds or respiratory infections, leading to ear pain and fever.
Close contact with individuals carrying Streptococcus bacteria or respiratory viruses can lead to infections causing the above diseases.
Some factors that make kids susceptible to sickness in a changing season are:
Nutritional Deficiency: Inadequate nutrition, leading to weakened immune systems, can make children more susceptible to infections.
Vulnerability to Environmental Factors:
Sensitive Conditions: Children with pre-existing health conditions like asthma, allergies, or weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to winter-related illnesses.
Winter ushers in a host of challenges for children's health, but with strategic medication and attentive care, parents can fortify their little ones against seasonal ailments. However, with some minor precautions & lifestyle changes, it is possible for you to dodge seasonal sickness. Here's a guide to ensure your child's well-being during the colder months:
Vaccinations are your first line of defence. Ensure your child is up-to-date on flu and pneumonia shots to shield against prevalent winter illnesses.
Teach the power of hygiene! Encourage regular handwashing, proper sneezing and coughing etiquette, and staying away from sick playmates.
Nourish and Recharge:
A balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains supports a robust immune system. Equally vital is adequate sleep to recharge those tiny batteries.
Keep them moving! Physical activity not only keeps kids fit but also bolsters their overall health and immunity.
Bundle Up Smartly:
Layer clothing to shield against icy temperatures. Don't forget to protect little ears, noses, and fingers from the winter chill.
When illness strikes, follow prescribed medications diligently. Understand the proper use of over-the-counter remedies for fevers, coughs, and congestion.
Combat dry indoor air with humidifiers to ease respiratory discomfort. A moist environment helps keep winter bugs at bay.
Minimize exposure to sick individuals and prioritize regular paediatric check-ups to monitor your child's health. Winter wellness for children is about a holistic approach—medication, care, and preventive measures working hand-in-hand to ensure a season of good health.
The article is authored by Dr Anjul Dayal Senior Consultant Paediatrician &Paediatric Intensivist, Ankura hospital for women & Children