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Don’t discard those woollens yet

With the days getting warmer, you may feel tempted to put the woollens away. Not just yet, warn health experts, as winter is still not on its way out. Rhythma Kaul reports.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 14, 2013 02:01 IST
Rhythma Kaul

With the days getting warmer, you may feel tempted to put the woollens away. Not just yet, warn health experts, as winter is still not on its way out.

As cold, sickness and children go hand in hand, and with schools reopening from Monday, doctors have especially advised parents to ensure the their kids are properly clad before stepping out of the house whatever time of the day.

Pediatricians have been getting cases of children with runny nose, moderate to high fever and chest congestion. All these are symptoms of viral respiratory tract infection that is quite common in this weather.

“The number will only go up after schools reopen as transmission from one to another is high. There are 30-40 children in a class or in a school bus and a single child harbouring infection can infect others,” said Dr Nitin Verma, senior consultant, department of paediatrics, Max Healthcare.

Doctors say that parents need to understand that if a child is showing symptoms of viral infection, they should not rush him/her to school.

“Missing a test will not harm the child much, but making your sick child pop a paracetamol and sending her to school would put other children at the risk of getting infected,” said Dr Verma.

The most important preventive measure that parents can take to avoid children falling sick is to ensure they are properly clad, by which doctors mean not piling on layers but just enough for the child to not catch cold.

“The child should not sweat, as sweating is what will make the child catch cold because it means the temperature within is fluctuating. Dressing for a child is a dynamic process and you have to keep adding and decreasing layers as per the variation in temperature,” said Dr Deepak Sikriwal, consultant, department of paediatrics, Fortis La Femme.

“It is anyway too early to say that winter has gone as there will be second and third wave of cold and the child can catch a chill if she is under clad,” added Dr Sikriwal.

No matter how severe the symptoms, doctors say they do not advise use of antibiotics among children. “Kids should not be randomly prescribed antibiotics. Most children recover without any treatment,” said Dr Verma.

However, a few things that parents can do to make the recovery smooth for the child, such as complete bed rest, make him/her consume lots of warm fluids such as soups, herbal teas, lemonade in lukewarm water and paracetamol, in case of fever.

“The child may not feel like eating when sick as the infection kills the appetite, in that case parents should ensure the child is given high protein diet,” added Dr Sikriwal.

Cold FAQ

What is hypothermia?
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well.

Which sections of the population are most at risk for hypothermia?
Elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating; adults under the influence of alcohol; mentally ill individuals; people who remain outdoors for long periods.

What are the warning signs for hypothermia?
Shivering/exhaustion; confusion/fumbling hands; memory loss/slurred speech and drowsiness.

What should I do if I see someone with warning signs of hypothermia?

Take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95°F (35°C), the situation is an emergency — get medical attention immediately.

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