Protecting children from heat-related illnesses

I have enrolled my children in an outdoor sports summer camp. As the camp is in the peak summer month of April, what can I do to protect them from afflictions such as heat stroke? — Vidhya Srinath, Bangalore

Summer brings its share of problems. To protect your children from heat-related illnesses, here are some guidelines.

• Encourage them to drink water at regular intervals. Better to provide them their own bottles and advise them to avoid drinking from shared receptacles.

• Advise against sugary/carbonated drinks.

• Children should be advised to take a water break every 20 minutes while playing in the sun.

• Ensure they wear light-coloured, lightweight clothing of absorbent material to facilitate sweat absorption.

• When outdoors, they should wear caps/hats to guard against direct sunlight.

• They should take to a shade or go indoors when they feel dizzy, light-headed or nauseous.

• Apply sunscreen lotion with SPF of at least 15.

• Gastrointestinal infections are common in summer; encourage children to wash hands frequently, particularly before meal times.

My 13-year-old daughter suffers severe lower abdomen pain on the first two days of her monthly menstrual cycle. Is there any way to reduce the pain?— Nilofer Fathima, Chennai

Lower abdominal pain is common in the early months of menstruation after a girl child attains menarche. Since the first cycles are anovulatory, they tend to be irregular and may vary. Pain-relief medication can be taken as a short-term solution to relieve her distress. If abdominal pain worsens, it’s advisable to consult a gynaecologist.

My four-year-old daughter catches colds very often. Since I believe in minimal medication, I rely on steam inhalation and salt water gargling as the panacea. But I’m worried that sometimes the infection may need further treatment. During a common cold, what symptoms necessitate a visit to the doctor?— Manisha Pandey, Lucknow

A common cold and flu infection share similar symptoms. However flu symptoms tend to be severe. You should consult a doctor if your child is experiencing high grade fever, loss of appetite, breathing difficulty, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, urination difficulty, and extreme fatigue.

My eight-year-old son is up-to-date on his immunization schedule. Are there any vaccinations needed or recommended after the age of eight? According to the immunisation schedule, there is a DTAP booster is due at 10 years of age. Are there any other important vaccines I’m missing out? — Lakshmi Shankarraman, Chennai

If you have followed Indian Academy of Paediatrics’ schedule of immunization for your eight-year-old son, then there are no other vaccines recommended at this stage. However, at age 10, your son has to be immunised with DTAP/TD and HPV vaccines. I assume he has already been immunised with the typhoid vaccine.

(Dr. Prabha Punith is a practising paediatrician at the Little Steps Children’s Clinic, Bangalore)

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