By – Dr. Jayashree. K, Pediatrician and Adolescent Health Specialist, KMC hospital, Mangalore
Summer months are back, children eagerly look forward to this season as they get an academic break from school!! Children are more likely to venture into different activities/ summer camps during this time. A few common health conditions seen during the summer season are heat-related problems (Sunstroke, Heat Rash), Dehydration, Swimmer’s ear ( Otitis Externa), food poisoning Allergic Rhinitis, Eczema.
So, parents and children need to be aware of a few steps in preventing these diseases.
Sunstroke occurs when a person spends too much time in the sun, resulting in a dangerously high body temperature. A fast heartbeat, disorientation, nausea, a dry swollen tongue, and warm, hot skin are all symptoms of sunstroke. In severe cases, sunstroke will render the sufferer unconscious. Sunstroke is a very dangerous condition that necessitates a trip to the emergency room. To stop sunstroke, keep your children in the shade throughout the day (prefer outdoor activities in the morning/evening) and make sure they are well-hydrated by getting them to drink plenty of fluids. Always carry a bottle of water while going outside.
Dehydration: Seen when water intake does not compensate for water loss. During summers, we tend to lose a lot of water and salts in the form of sweat without realizing it. This needs to be replenished for the normal functioning of the body. Encourage children to drink plenty of water and eat fresh fruits instead of fruit juices or aerated drinks that contain added sugar in it.
Otitis Externa: Commonly known as Swimmer’s Ear presents as itchiness, pain, and drainage from the ear. Usually seen after swimming in lakes/ponds where the water is not disinfected. Water that gets into the ear can cause bacterial overgrowth and cause ear infections. Treated with antibiotic ear drops after consulting a doctor. The best is to avoid swimming in such water bodies. Use earplugs while using pools.
Food poisoning: Occurs by consumption of contaminated food or water. Uncooked food/undercooked meat/ due to improper food storage/food sold open by roadside vendors are contaminated with disease-causing organisms which can lead to food poisoning. It spreads by bacteria, viruses, toxins, and chemicals present in contaminated food or water after ingestion causing stomach pain, nausea, diarrhoea, or vomiting. Also, avoid food that spoils easily hence while going for picnics prepare dishes with fresh fruits and vegetables or other ingredients which don’t get spoiled quickly.
Heat rashes: It is a red or pink rash usually found on areas of the body that are covered with clothing. Heat rash develops when sweat ducts become blocked and swell up, looking like dots or tiny pimples on the skin. It often causes discomfort and itching. Wear breathable fabrics to avoid heat rashes
Allergic rhinitis: or Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, pet dander, mold, and insects. Symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion and irritation of the nose, throat, mouth, and eyes. Common during spring and summer months.
Eczema: Eczema is a recurrent skin condition that produces an itchy rash all over the body. Allergies are a common cause of eczema, which can improve during the summer. Chlorine and sun exposure, on the other hand, can dry out the skin and cause irritation. Increased sweating can aggravate eczema. If your child has eczema, consider wiping down their skin when it gets hot so that sweat doesn’t build up. Use a healthy moisturizer and hypoallergenic sunscreen on your child’s skin every day. Dress them in light, airy clothing to allow their skin to breathe and reduce irritation.
Use a bug repellent when spending time outdoors. Ticks and mosquitoes spread many diseases, including Lyme disease, various types of encephalitis, Malaria so putting a bug repellent on your child is a good idea. Children can have an allergic reaction to certain insect bites or stings. Wear protective clothing when camping or hiking
Other measures which can be followed are:
Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothes as dark coloured clothes absorb more heat and tight clothes do not let your body sweat. Opt for light and absorbent materials like cotton.
Never sit in a car exposed to the hot sun and try to find park your vehicle under the shade.
Wash your hands properly and follow general hygiene rules while handling food. Wash your hands before touching or cooking any food items to prevent food and water-borne infections.
Vaccination with MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and Varicella (chickenpox vaccine) is helpful against infectious diseases. If you or your child are not vaccinated against these, vaccinations should be acquired at the earliest.
While travelling or for outdoor activities protect yourself from sun heat by wearing a cap along with sunglasses. A hat and sunglasses will prevent harmful ultraviolet rays from hitting the sensitive areas on the face. Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are open.
Follow these tips to avoid common summer diseases and ensure you have a fulfilled summer for yourself and your children. Stay Cool, Stay hydrated, Stay Informed!!