Several illnesses can affect your child during the hot months. We take a comprehensive look of the diseases and provide tips tried and tested by Indian parents for you to check out.
By Ashwin Dewan
With schools closed for vacation, summer is the time for children to relax and have fun. Summer also means children spend most of their time outdoors – playing games, going overboard on cold drinks and ice-cream to beat the heat and, generally, lazing around. However, with the rising mercury, children fall prey to certain illnesses such as the flu, prickly heat, food poisoning, sunstroke, dehydration, fever, and so on. We take a look at some amazingly simple tips and home remedies that you can rely on to care for your child.
Prickly heat is common in children who tend to play for long hours out in sun during summer. The condition is caused by excessive sweating and is characterised by rashes, red bumps or blisters that erupt on the skin in areas of the body like the armpits and folds of the arms and legs where sweating happens the most.
Tip: Make your child wear loose-fitting and airy clothes. Regular showers and prickly heat powders also help. Teach your child appropriate summer hygiene to prevent infections.
The sudden change in weather from spring to summer makes children susceptible to cold and flu. When your child moves in and out of air-conditioned rooms frequently and drinks a lot of cold water, he makes for an ideal flu candidate.
Tip: Give your child a glass of lemon water every morning. Herbal teas also help cure the flu faster. Ensure he eats foods rich in vitamin C regularly to prevent him from catching a cold. Discourage your child from drinking water straight out of the fridge; introduce him to water stored in an earthen pot (matka) instead.
Children are at high risk of sunstroke, especially during the summer, when they are exposed to direct sunlight for long hours without proper hydration. If your child shows signs and slurred speech or dizziness, rush him to the hospital without delay.
Tip: Ensure your child drinks plenty of water even without the feeling of thirst. Restrict outdoor playing time to cooler parts of the day like early morning or in the evening. Planning indoor fun activities with your child helps. Be a role model by wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you step out.
Children who are overexposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun may suffer from sunburn. The symptoms include itching, pain, tenderness and blistering of the skin.
Tip: Apply sunscreen lotions to the exposed areas of your child’s skin including the hands, feet, face and neck. Encourage her to wear full sleeved clothes, and better still, to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day. In case of sunburn, applying aloe vera gel helps soothe the burn. Check out the video for step-by-step instructions on how to make your own, safe aloe vera gel.
Dehydration is caused by excessive sweating during hot weather. It is marked by exhaustion and fatigue. Look out for cracked lips, decreased urine output and low energy levels which are sure signs of dehydration.
Tip: Ensure your child drinks a lot of water even when not thirsty. Include plenty of fruits like watermelon, which have high water content, in her diet to replenish loss of fluid while playing. Give your child small sips of water if dehydration has already set in. Oral rehydration solutions are the best first aid for dehydration.
Diarrhoea is a condition where a patient suffers from frequent, loose and watery stools. Food contamination caused by houseflies is the commonest cause of diarrhoea. The condition, when left unattended, can result in severe dehydration. Always consult a doctor when diarrhoea is accompanied by vomiting.
Tip: Ensure your child does not eat food from roadside stalls. Always carry a supply of clean, boiled water while travelling. Ensure hand hygiene practices are followed when your child is affected by diarrhoea to prevent the infection from spreading.
Sudden, severe symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea indicate food poisoning. Heat aids the growth of bacteria in food, hence food contamination is common in summer. Often, food poisoning occurs when children eat this contaminated food. Also, watch out for symptoms like abdominal pain and fever.
Tip: Ensure your child eats fresh, home-cooked food during summer. Food that has been stored should be checked for bad odour to assess if it is spoilt.
The accumulation of water in puddles formed by summer showers and in drains leads to a rise in the population of mosquitoes. When your child plays outdoors, she may be exposed to mosquito bites that result in illnesses such as dengue and malaria.
Tip: Apply mosquito-repellent cream to the hands and feet of your child when she steps outdoors. Teach her to keep her surroundings clean to prevent mosquitoes.
In general, children should consume lots of fluids that will help them stay sufficiently hydrated. This, in turn, will prevent a lot of diseases that are common in summer. But, this is not enough and more comprehensive steps must be taken.
Did you know that some of these illnesses can be treated with ingredients off your kitchen shelf? The best part about them is they are easy to find, relatively inexpensive and proven for their beneficial and healing properties. Some of the popular home remedies include:
1) Baking soda – cools heat rash
Baking soda is used to relieve heat rash. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to a bucket of water and use it to bathe your child. It will ease the itching. Baking soda can also be applied directly to the rash to absorb moisture and sweat.
2) Garlic – stops swimmer’s ear
Swimmer’s ear, which is an infection of the outer ear canal, can be painful for children. Grated garlic is mixed with olive oil and the mixture is strained. This can be applied to the affected ear.
3) Peppermint oil – for insect bites
Insects are a cause of much trouble in summer. Teach your child not to scratch the affected area. Apply a few drops of peppermint oil. It cools the bite and heals the wound faster.
4) Honey and ginger juice – for cough
A combination of honey and ginger juice is an effective remedy for cold.
5) Apple cider vinegar – for food poisoning
Two to three teaspoons of undiluted apple cider vinegar can be taken to dull the effect of food poisoning.
6) Coriander powder – for diarrhoea
Boil 2 to 3 tablespoons of coriander powder in a cup of water and cool before drinking. It provides relief from diarrhoea.
Note: Most of these home remedies are effective but in case things turn serious, you must consult a doctor.
Give your child a steady supply of healthy nutrients and adequate fluids to ward off diseases. With proper care and precaution, summer illnesses in children can be taken care of in the right manner.
To know more about Common summer diseases go through the pages of this ClipBook.
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