Cold season: Warm clothing, hydration good for children
Kids need extra care during rainy season to keep off infections and diseases. As the cold weather persists, children’s health is likely to be affected. So, what should parents do to prevent their children from suffering typical seasonal illnesses?
Senior registrar in the Department of Community Health at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Odusolu Yetunde explained that cold is usually referred to as common cold.She said: “It affects the upper respiratory system, and is caused by viruses and so is a viral illness. It is usually a self-limiting illness that runs its course and will resolve by itself. It doesn’t last longer than two weeks, though the duration may be shorter, depending on the individual’s immune response to the infection.
“Common cold may be triggered by coming in close contact with an infected person. It is usually found to occur more in children under age six and the risk of having the infection may be increased by the season (time of the year), especially the rainy season. A person with weak immune system may also be susceptible or prone to common cold.
“It is worthy to note that cold weather does not cause common cold, but the rainy season with associated cold may favour people staying more indoors and getting in close contact with themselves, which can aid transmission of the infection. Also, the viruses that cause common cold are known to thrive faster or survive more in cold weather, which may be responsible for the increased transmission during rainy season.
“The associated low temperature, which occurs in the rainy season favours low humidity, which can also cause dryness in the mucous membrane of nose and the lung, which may also foster development of cold. Common cold may be accompanied with such symptoms as cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, headache and sometimes body pain.
“The management of common cold in children involves ensuring they are well hydrated by giving them extra fluids, which helps with relieving the mucus plug in the nose. They can be given vitamin C, which helps to boost their immune response. Parents should ensure children are given warm clothes. And if they have fever, they should be given antipyretics (drugs that help to relieve the fever such as ibuprofen, paracetamol). This drug can also be useful to relieve headache or any associated body pain.
“Steam inhalation can be given to help relieve nasal congestion. The air can also be humidified to relieve the cold. The need for cough expectorant is prohibited/discouraged in children. If there is a need to treat a cough that is protracted, then a doctor can be visited who will prescribe drugs to treat the cough, especially if there’s a superimposed bacterial infection.
“In addition, health education is very important on hand hygiene, because the infection is usually transmitted from one person to another through hand contact. Regular hand-washing can help limit the spread/transmission of the disease from one individual to another. This precaution should be well adhered to in crèches and schools. The culture of regular hand-washing should be instituted and rejuvenated in schools and institutions generally to help curb spread of diseases of which common cold is among.”
Odusolu suggested that it is highly essential that good nutrition be maintained, as it will help provide the necessary boost to immune system to help fight the infection.
“Home remedies like honey has also been found useful to help fight common cold, but is advised that it should not be given to children under one year old to prevent the risk of botulism. “For children to be sickness-free this rainy season and protect them from cold, children caregivers need not be anxious about the condition. They should be reassured that because it is a self-limiting illness, it will probably run its course and resolve completely.”
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