How to prevent frequent colds

My five-year-old daughter gets long-lasting colds very frequently. How can I help prevent their recurrence?— Rina Thakur, Pune

There are several possible causes which need to be evaluated before arriving at a diagnosis and prescribing treatment. You will need to carefully observe and make note of the following:

• How often do the common colds occur — weekly/monthly?

• How many days does each cold infection last?

• Have you noticed any particular trigger, for example, winter, dust, flowers, intake of specific foods, etc

• Is each bout of cold followed by fever?

• Is there any history of wheezing in the family?

• Do other family members have similar complaints?

A thorough understanding of these issues will help your paediatrician diagnose the cause of her recurrent colds, and advise precautions and treatment if necessary.

My younger daughter is seven and weighs only 16 kg, but she is very active. Should I worry about her weight? Will being underweight affect her physical development? — Imtiaz Ali, Hyderabad.

Your daughter’s weight is not commensurate with her age and falls into the category of under-weight as per the growth chart of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP). Since you have not mentioned her height, it’s difficult to comment whether her height-weight ratio is age and developmentally appropriate. However, weight is not an independent criterion to evaluate a child’s overall physical health and well-being. A detailed analysis of parents’ genetics, physical examination and other investigations are required for proper evaluation and diagnosis. Please consult a paediatrician.

My son, a class XII student, has selected computer science as one of his electives. Consequently he spends a lot of time in front of the computer screen and also tends to use his mobile phone excessively. Of late, he has begun to complain of eye pain and headaches. Please advise.– — Komalavalli Iyengar, Hyderabad

Prolonged screen time stresses the eyes and may lead to dry eyes or other ocular problems. Therefore encourage your son to take regular breaks and exercise his eye muscles. Moreover you need to consult an ophthalmologist immediately for a thorough check-up. Early intervention will help to minimise serious ocular damage.

My 17-year-old daughter contracted chicken pox three months ago. Though she has recovered, the scars are still visible on her body. Will they go away on their own or should I consult a dermatologist?— Valerie Francis, Bangalore

Chicken pox is a viral infection which causes rash and severe itching among other clinical symptoms. Sometimes, scarring of skin due to itching and scratching may become permanent. Evaluate the severity of the marks and consult a dermatologist. I also strongly recommend that you immunise your daughter with the chicken pox vaccine.

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