As Temperatures Drop, Health Risks for Children Rise
Each new season brings with it new and different activities for children to enjoy. At the same time, however, the seasons can also bring with them some undesirable byproducts in the form of various illnesses, causing children to have to spend some or all of their time in bed due to sickness.
This is generally the most eagerly awaited season, because it’s a time for festivities, holiday celebrations and gift-giving. However, cooler weather can bring these less-than-welcome diseases:
- Pneumonia is an infection or inflammation of the lungs and can be caused by a wide variety of bacteria, viruses and fungi. It’s a disease that is quite common in young children. Some of the major symptoms include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, rapid breathing and shortness of breath.
Key prevention strategies are to wash hands frequently, get lots of rest, and drink plenty of clean water. Also, avoid taking children to crowded public places, and ensure that your children are vaccinated against certain types of pneumonia, as well as against influenza, measles, and whooping cough, which are diseases that can result in pneumonia.
- Croup, or laryngotracheobronchitis, is often found in children under the age of 3. A child may contract a virus by breathing it in or by touching a contaminated surface or toy. Some of the more obvious symptoms include a loud and dry “barking” cough, high fever, a hoarse voice, wheezing, and labored breathing. Generally speaking, children will experience mild symptoms and will usually recover on their own within 2-3 days.
In rare, more severe cases, however, suffocation and death due to airway obstruction can occur. Croup can be prevented by washing hands frequently, taking care not to allow children to go near people with respiratory infections, and vaccinating against certain diseases known to cause croup.
- The common cold is most frequently caused by exposure to a cold-causing virus. It is extremely common, especially in young children, because children’s immune systems are not as efficient or strong as those of adults. The common cold is spread through the air into the respiratory system during contact with infected people and through contact with objects in the child’s surroundings. Children who have allergies are at increased risk of infection and could also contract chronic colds or other complications, such as sinusitis and bronchitis.
The main symptoms are clear nasal discharge (runny nose), coughing, sneezing, and nasal congestion (stuffy nose). In most cases, if accompanied by a fever, the fever will not be very high, and the cold will usually disappear on its own in about 7 days. Take preventative measures by maintaining a high level of cleanliness, make sure the child eats a healthy diet of the 5 main food groups, and ensure that they exercise appropriately for their age to increase their strength.
- Influenza, or flu, is also caused by a virus that is spread primarily through respiratory droplet transmission during contact with infected persons, for example, if they cough or sneeze, or through contact with items contaminated by others through nasal discharge or saliva.
It’s often difficult to tell the difference between a common cold and influenza, other than with a special flu virus test, as the symptoms of these two illnesses are very similar. Because of this, further examination may be necessary in order to determine whether a child has severe influenza or other health problems that put them at risk of infection, as there are medications that can help to reduce the severity of flu symptoms. Influenza can also be prevented with vaccination.
- Bronchiolitis is a disease common in children of all ages. It is most often caused by viruses such as the influenza virus, measles virus, and R.V. virus. It can be transmitted via droplets that contain the infection, through direct contact with infected secretions, or by touching hands or materials contaminated by infected secretions. Initially, the child may exhibit flu-like symptoms, but with more coughing.
While the disease is not usually very serious, in children with low immunity, it can develop into pneumonia, which can be severe. As with the prevention of influenza, children should receive a flu vaccination, and steps should be taken to keep their bodies strong and healthy, provide them with healthy foods from all 5 food groups, and ensure they are in a hygienic environment.