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Protecting children from monsoon illnesses

June 22, 2022
Reshma Ravishanker

With the onset of monsoon showers illness among children is on the rise. Reopening of in-person classes across the country’s schools have facilitated a faster spread of viral infections this season as compared to the previous year.

Common cold, flu, mosquito borne dengue, malaria and chikungunya, typhoid and gastroenteritis are some common cases that pediatricians are reporting over the last two weeks.

Dr Asha Benakappa, former director, Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health and currently the head of the Department of Pediatrics at the Dr Chandramma Dayananda Sagar Institute of Medical Education and Research, Bengaluru said that a changing weather has promoted a rise in dengue cases.

“The younger ones are prone to have breathing difficulty because of a drop in temperatures. There are mechanisms in the nose such as the hair and mucous membrane that try to bring the inhaled air from 220 C as it is outside to a normal 260C. This leads to nose blockage. We also see wheeze associated with lower respiratory infections,” she said.

Parents need to look out for

Common cold and flu

A change in weather conditions or viral infections induce this. Children have a high tendency of catching the same by being in close contact with the infected ones. The same could be presented with severe body pain among children.

Mosquito borne diseases

Early showers allowing stagnation of water around households is a cause for concern. According to the National Centre for Vector Borne Diseases control, as many as 10,172 cases of dengue have already been reported this year (upto May 31, 2022).

Viral and fungal infections

A self-limiting hand foot and mouth disease poses with severe itching in the hand and feet predominantly also is common during this season, leaving children irritable is one such. Other fungal infections between the toes, in joints are something parents must keep a check on in areas that are prone to flooding or dampness.

Typhoid and gastroenteritis

Consuming contaminated water, using sub-standard oil and regular consumption of ultra-processed food results in issues related to the gut. Prolonged fever, nausea, abdominal pain, and headaches are symptoms that children could pose with.

Dr Benakappa recommends that parents

  • Only give children hot, home cooked food. Ensure to give only boiled and cooled water during monsoons.
  • Use only good grade oil for cooking. No fried food from restaurants must be encouraged.
  • For the older children, saltwater gargling is recommended. In case of cold among young children, one pinch of salt must be added to two spoons of water. The drops are later to be put into nostrils once every 3 hours to relieve nasal congestion.
  • Avoid direct steaming for children. Instead, steam the room to keep the child warm and ensure the child is adequately clothed.  

(Inputs from Apollo Cradle and Children’s Hospital and Narayana Health)

Also read:

10 Essential tips for monsoon

Fighting mosquito-borne diseases

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