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Summer Diseases & Illnesses To Watch Your Kids For
Summer is right around the corner, with the promise of all things good and fun. There’s pool parties and fireworks, barbeques and ice pops, beaches and weddings. Just when you think it’s all fun and games, someone gets sick. Kids especially are prone to summer sicknesses such as food poisoning, chicken pox, measles, and water-borne diseases. They’re having so much fun that they don’t realize they’re putting their little bodies in the way of diseases. As a parent, here are a few things you should watch out for during the summer to keep your kids healthy and having fun.
Allergies & Hay Fever
Summer might not seem like the time for allergies, but with the abundance of pollen and everyone cutting grass on a regular basis, allergies can be a big issue for children, especially those that are always outside. Symptoms of allergies and hay fever can include itchy and watery eyes, coughs, runny nose and even slight fevers.
Let’s be honest, we want kids to be outside as much as possible during the summer, so to keep them allergy-free, try these simple tips. When symptoms start appearing, make sure your child has allergies and not a cold by checking the color of their mucus. Clear or white mucus most likely indicates allergies. Treat allergy symptoms, as a natural option you may want to give your child more raw onion, garlic or ginger as it helps to boost the immune system, and keeping them indoors, especially on high pollen days.
Heat Stroke and Heat Rash
The high temperatures during summer months sometimes work against us, and children are especially susceptible as they have a smaller body mass. Heat stroke occurs when the body can’t regulate its temperature and overheats, often resulting in fever or the person passing out. Heat rash occurs when the body can’t get rid of excess heat through sweating because the sweat glands are blocked. This results in a red rash on the skin that sometimes causes blisters.
To prevent heatstroke, make sure your child is always hydrated and stays in the shade during the hottest times of the day, usually 1-4 pm. Heat rashes are best prevented by lifestyle changes such as staying indoors during hot times of the day, wearing loose clothing and letting skin air dry instead of towel-drying after showers or baths.
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Sunburn & Other Skin Conditions
Sunburn is practically synonymous with summer, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Sunburns occur when the skin is exposed to too much ultraviolet radiation and causes the skin to become red, hot, and sometimes even to blister. Other skin conditions, such as eczema, hives, or skin rashes can also be more common during the summer as children can go into improperly cleaned swimming pools, sweat excessively, or simply be in dirtier conditions due to more outdoor time.
To help your kids avoid sunburns, limit outdoor activities to times of the day with the least intensive UV radiation, such as mornings and afternoons, and make sure they are protected when they do go outside. Sunscreens and hats are always good to have on hand, but if your child is particularly susceptible to burns, consider also only sending them outside in clothing that has long sleeves or in long pants. Other skin conditions can usually be prevented by proper hygiene and bathing on a regular basis.
Bug Bites and Dog Bites
More outdoor time also exposes your children to a higher chance of bug bites and even dog bites, as many owners are letting their pets roam outside more in the better weather. Bug bites from mosquitoes, bees, wasps, and other insects are more common though and usually show up in the form of a red bump on the body and are often itchy. If your child is allergic to one of these insect bites, they might also develop hives, fevers, swelling and difficulty breathing at which point they should see a medical professional.
To prevent bug bites, line your backyard with plants that drive away insects such as lemongrass and mint, if possible. Have your children wear bug-repellant when venturing further outdoors, along with protective clothing. If you know that your child is allergic to a certain insect, make sure to always have the proper medication handy in case of an emergency. To keep your kids safe from dog, don’t let them play unattended in an un-fenced yard and teach them to stay away from unknown dogs.
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The measles virus can be a serious infection that still affects many people worldwide although it is less widespread throughout the United States. Measles can be contracted more easily during the summer time because families are more likely to travel then, and can travel to areas that have not eradicated the measles virus yet. Also, the more people together in one area, such as during summer months on a beach or lake, the more likely it is for kids to get infected since they are exposed to a greater range of people.
Measles symptoms include fever, rashes, dry coughs, runny nose, inflamed eyes and white spots with blue centers on the inside of the mouth (the most telling sign). To prevent measles, make sure your children are vaccinated against it and practice proper hygiene by washing hands, not sharing personal items, and keeping clear of those that are infected.
It might not seem like the time for it, but close contact with multiple other children during the summer months can expose your child to the chicken pox just as readily as during the school months in a classroom. Chicken pox is also a viral infection that causes a rash with fluid-filled blisters and is commonly itchy. Chicken pox rash is usually accompanied by fevers, headaches, tiredness and loss of appetite.
To prevent your children from getting chicken pox, take them to get the chicken pox vaccine and exercise proper hygiene. Being around many children increases the chances of your child getting chicken pox so watch out for other kids that show symptoms.
A viral infection that affects salivary glands and causes them to swell that is relatively rare in the United States now since the mumps vaccine. Symptoms only appear two to three weeks after infection and include headaches, fevers, muscle aches, fatigue, loss of appetite and swollen glands.
Preventing mumps is quite easy with the vaccine and the occurrences of the infection are low anyways. Since it is a viral infection, prevent mumps by practicing good hygiene and keeping your children in a good bill of health by boosting their immune systems with Vitamin C and other multivitamins.
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Diarrhea, Vomiting, and Food Poisoning
Barbeques and picnics are great during the summer, but having food that’s sitting out in the hot sun can potentially bring about unintended side effects. Food poisoning from spoiled food can lead to diarrhea and vomiting as well as other complications such as dehydration and fevers.
To prevent your children from contracting food poisoning, make sure to not leave food sitting outdoors or in the hot sun. At parties, barbeques, or picnics ensure that all food has been properly cooked to the right temperature to kill any bacteria. Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating them or feeding them to your children. If your child does contract food poisoning, make sure to always keep them hydrated.
Water Borne Diseases – Amoebiasis, Shigellosis, and Cholera
When the sun gets hot, puddles seem very inviting for little kids. Unfortunately, water isn’t always as clean as we hope it is. Even pools and manmade ponds might have bacteria that can be harmful to children. Lakes, larger ponds, rivers, creeks, and ocean water can be hotbeds of bacteria depending on the region you’re in. Most water borne diseases present with diarrhea and stomach ailments and, in the case of cholera, dehydration that can be serious. Amoebiasis is a parasitic infection and shigellosis is a bacterial infection that usually resolves itself within a week.
To prevent your children from contracting water borne diseases, don’t let them play in dirty water or unclean pools. Advise them to not drink any of the water that they are swimming or playing in, as it is usually this method that leads to water borne diseases.
Summer Colds and Coughs
While it might seem contradictory to catch a cold in the summer, summer colds are usually caused by the enterovirus which is one of over 200 types of viruses that cause the common cold symptoms. This type of virus usually comes with more severe symptoms and can even cause rashes. Just like colds caused in the winter, summer colds don’t have a treatment so your best bet is prevention.
To prevent getting a cold, wash your hands often and especially after being outside. Use hand sanitizer when water and soap is not available and keep the immune system healthy and be ready to ward off invaders. Enough sleep and stress-free conditions are ideal for the immune system to work at its peak, so make sure your children are getting enough zzz’s every night.
Prevention is better than any medicine out there and it should be the first thing you do to keep your kids healthy and happy. Although the summer months might seem like a time when it should be all fun and games without the worry of getting sick, there are plenty of diseases and viruses that can affect your children so always be on the lookout and practice good hygiene to stay ahead of the game.