Summers have always been the most awaited of times for all of us, especially when we were kids. Though as a parent, summer takes a different meaning altogether with its barrage of health issues
affecting our children. It reminds me of my special summer clinics where children of all ages came with varied complaints.
- The most common problems seen in kids are rashes! The Indian summer is a typical tropical summer with blazing sun, intense heat and humidity. While playing outside under the sun, there is lots of sweating which does not dry easily. It is important to differentiate between a Sunburn (tender, reddish brown discoloration of skin which burn with touch or water), heat rash (prickly heat- seen as small red eruptions which are itchy), Fungal infections (discoloration of skin which sometimes becomes flaky) and insect bites (intense red itchy
eruptions which is more localized than a heat rash).
- Best Prevention for skin complaints- Wash the Rash
Regularly washing off sweat and dirt with plain water (do not use soap very often) and drying it off completely helps in preventing prickly heat and fungal infections. Wet wipes could also be used when it is not possible to wash. For Insect bites, it is best to use insect repellent coils, sprays or patches. Sunburn is a more severe condition requiring medical care, though they can be limited by keeping the body covered and applying sunscreen lotions (SPF 20% for children) when going out in
- The next most common issue faced during summers by children is heat exhaustion, heat stroke and Dehydration. Kids have a lower body weight and thus get easily exhausted and dehydrated, even with minimal sweating. Pain in calf muscles, extreme weakness, and headaches are common signs of dehydration and Heat exhaustion. Lack of concentration, extreme irritability, nausea and photophobia are indications of heat stroke and need immediate medical intervention.
Best Prevention to Beat the Heat-
Introduce sips of water, coconut water,kokam,sharbat, jaljeera, buttermilk etc at short intervals to increase fluid intake. Include fruits (water melon, musk melon, banana, papaya, kiwi etc),
curd, milkshakes, and milk. Avoid giving bakery products, aerated drinks, fruit juices (prefer fresh juices), tea and coffee. It is important to prevent excess exposure of heat to the head by
covering it with a cap, bandana or scarf. In case your child is into long distance running and other endurance exercises, you can try pouring room temperature water on his/ her head and wiping
it dry then.
Calculate the fluid intake for your child as per their weight
For children weighing from 3.5-10 kgs– 100ml/Kg/day. (Eg- 7kg = 700ml/day)
For children weighing 11-20kgs– 1000ml + 50ml/every kg over 10/dayEg- 13 kgs= 1000+150=1150 ml/day)
For children weighing more than 20kgs– 1500ml+20ml/every kg over 20/day. (Eg- 25 kgs= 1500+100= 1600ml/day)
Maximum fluid intake should not exceed 2400ml/day.
The other major problem faced by children could be because of myriad of infections and allergies doing the rounds in summers!
Pollen allergies are very common in children and often go undiagnosed. Pollen circulation in the air is highest at evening when kids play the maximum and thus are exposed to them. Most children with pollen allergies complain of difficult breathing, frequent colds and asthma like symptoms. Some of them may also have irritation in eyes due to allergies, improper hygiene, and infections.
Swimmer’s ear is another complaint often seen in children in the summers when the water from swimming pool may enter their ears. Since the ear are still forming in children, the chances of infection
are higher in them, which present as discharge from ear, throbbing pain in ears and frequent blocking of ears.
It is important to identify allergies at an early stage and prevent contact with the allergens. The children should be asked to wear face asks to limit the contact with pollens and other allergens
especially in the evenings. Eye infections can be prevented by maintaining a good personal hygiene and washing the eyes regularly and wiping it with a clean cloth, preventing sand or mud
to enter the eyes and avoiding to touch the eyes frequently while playing. Swimmers ear should be identified at an early stage to prevent its further progress and should be informed to the
doctor at the earliest. It is important to use ear plugs while swimming to prevent the water from entering the ears.
Summers are a time to enjoy for the children and let’s not take the fun away from them! A few simple precautions and a little care will breeze you through the summers!