After a long unpredictable spring season full of some sunny hot days and other windy cold days, which made many people doubt whether it was really April or January the summer season has finally begun.
When summer starts people think that the risk of getting sick more frequently is over and that this only occurs in winter. Part of this is true as the close contact of children that have been together during the school winter period is over. The other aspect is that there is more exposure to fresh air than in the winter months. Only during the summer do we have to think of a few tips to help us avoid the summer aliments.
As summer in Egypt is a very hot season, the need for using air conditioning in our daily lives is essential and though lots of parents prefer not to use it, it is still a very useful appliance. The only precaution is to avoid sudden changes of temperature between the heat outside and the cold air conditioning temperature inside. These sudden changes can lead to allergic rhinitis (common cold), cough, and the introduction of various types of viral influenza, abdominal cramps leading to vomiting or diarrhoea.
Another very important precaution with our children is to avoid exposing them to the midday sun, which can easily lead to nausea, headache, fever, vomiting and the child being unusually lethargic. This can be avoided by offering proper amounts of fluids like juices containing electrolytes and staying out of the sun during the hottest periods of the day. Another similar condition is heat stroke and it usually occurs when the child is kept indoors in a hot closed room, the child may start experiencing sweating and accordingly fluid and electrolyte loss. The best treatment for this is supplying a good quantity of fluids plus cooling the room and if this is not possible then applying cold compresses on the body of the child. If this does not work seek medical attention straight away.
Going out frequently to dine is a very common custom in the summer here in Egypt especially eating alfresco. It should be kept in mind that hot temperatures can easily affect the quality of food as well as the way of preserving food, especially proteins like dairy products and different types of meat and chicken. Always bear in mind that children are more sensitive to food poisoning than adults, accordingly more close observation is required to their dietary habits during the summer. This is the reason why more cases of Gastro enteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea) occur during the summer and we should be aware that it can cause more serious life threatening conditions in children than with adults, due to the fact that the fluid reservoir within the children is much less than the adults. Of course health education for the children regarding hygienic habits is an important tool of avoiding this problem.
Practicing sports is a mandatory issue for the welfare of children in the summer, but close observation is very important and care of the sterilization of wounds occurring in the play grounds is essential. Also avoiding swallowing chlorinated swimming pool water is important as it may lead to vomiting and diarrhoea as well.
Sprains or limb traumas should be dealt with immediately as more delay and abuse for the joint or limb can lead to serious complications.
Finally, lots of us think of traveling abroad during the summer. If you are one of those, then make sure to treat your child for any common cold symptoms before flying so that he can enjoy his trip with no ear problems.
HAVE A WONDERFUL SUMMER
Dr Rafeek Ramzy