The rains have finally arrived. Jumping in puddles of water, making boats and getting all dirty in the rain – that is what kids love the most about this season.
But even as we heave a sigh of relief from heat, a new worry surrounds all parents, the dampness, flooded roads, mosquitoes, diseases, dirty and unhygienic environments and a lot of other unhealthy attributes that rain brings along.
Almost all of the parenting experts and advices focus on one common point-don’t let your child get wet in the rain.
I however strongly discourage this except for first rain of the season.
Rains are meant to enjoy and by taking certain precautions kids can enjoy it as much as they want without having the fear of falling sick.
Barring certain circumstances like when your child is already sick or has some medical problem or he/she doesn’t like going down in rain and getting wet or if too much parental anxiety about your kid falling sick, I personally don’t feel that any child should be stopped from enjoying the rain….!!
Here I discuss about the common monsoon diseases which children can acquire during this season and what precautions can be taken by you that will go a long way in keeping your child healthy.
Because of the moisture in the air and the water accumulating everywhere, there are many infections which can easily attack your child during this season.
Monsoon diseases can be differentiated based on how they spread:
- Air borne: Common cold and flu, viral fevers.
- Water and food borne: Gastroenteritis, typhoid, hepatitis-A, cholera and leptospirosis
- Mosquito borne: Malaria, dengue and chikungunya
- Skin and eye infections: Fungal diseases, allergies, conjunctivitis etc.
Air borne illnesses:
Influenza (Cold and Flu):
A. Common cold
It is a highly contagious and one of the most commonly occurring illness. Symptoms involve runny or stuffy nose, body ache, throat irritation and soreness with or without fever.
B. Viral fever:
Sudden weather change often causes viral fever characterized by fatigue, chills, body aches and fever. The illness is contagious and spreads through infection droplets in the air or by coming into physical contact with infected secretions. General duration of a viral fever lasts from 3 to 7 days, with the severity being the highest in the first three days.
- Both illnesses are generally self-limiting and do not need antibiotic unless there is a secondary infection. Don’t send your kid to school if they are sick. Ask your child to cover their mouth and nose with a handkerchief while coughing or sneezing. Consult with your doctor and take the prescribed medications. Do not self-medicate.
Prevention: The best way to prevent common cold and flu and viral illnesses is to
- Have a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet, rich especially in Vitamin C, which will develop the immune system of the body and improve the body resistance.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water (hand sanitizers are to be used only when soap and water are not available), especially after coming from outside and before eating food.
- Try to minimize contact with other sick kids.
- Drink plenty of warm fluids.
Water borne illnesses:
A. Gastroenteritis (food poisoning):
These are quite common during the monsoon as the high humidity helps in the growth of disease-causing bacteria in the food. The general symptoms are stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or fever.
It is very important that you always keep your kid hydrated and bland diet is recommended such as rice, curds, fruits such as banana, apple. Antibiotics are prescribed after evaluation of the condition of the patient.
A common water-borne disease, it is caused due to infection by Salmonella Typhi. Most common symptoms of this disease are prolonged fever and pain in abdomen. It requires antibiotics.
C. Hepatitis A:
It is a highly contagious water/foodborne liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Eating fruits, vegetables, or other foods that were contaminated during handling can cause spread of infection. The symptom of this include, jaundice (yellow eyes and skin, dark urine), stomach pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weakness.
No specific treatment exists for hepatitis A. In most cases, the liver heals on its own with no lasting damage barring severe cases. Management involves rest, treatment of nausea and rest to liver.
It is a serious water borne bacterial disease caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, that causes severe dehydration. This disease is triggered by poor sanitation and hygiene conditions (usually found in people with poor socio-economic status). The symptoms of this disease can be vomiting, sudden onset of high-volume diarrhea, nausea etc.
Preventive measures for water and food borne illnesses:
- Wash hands before eating
- Drink boiled cooled water – One of the most important health precautions to be taken during monsoons. Contaminated water is the biggest source of infecting germs. Make sure the water your child drinks is clean and germ free and the best way is – to boil it for 5 minutes and then cool it and drink it or invest in a good water purifying system.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly as they are likely to be germ laden during the monsoon. Washing them thoroughly before eating is something we must adhere to.
- Avoid roadside food and juices. They may be made in contaminated water/ice.
- Avoid green leafy vegetables – With contaminated water flooding low-lying areas and fields – there is a very high chance of leafy vegetables getting overlaid with a layer of disease-causing germs. These may be very difficult to wash off even after rigorous washing and it is best to avoid eating them.
- Consume freshly prepared food at home and avoid eating out as much as possible.
- If eating out, avoid eating raw food like salads especially because it is difficult to ascertain whether they have been washed, cleaned and stored at the right temperature. Cooking at high temperatures kills most of the germs. And therefore it is safer to eat cooked food.
- Before you feed your child anything – check for molds and fungus. During the rainy season – due to the high heat and humidity – it is an excellent time for molds and fungi. Almost anything can have a layer of mold growing on it if it has been lying around outside for even a day.
- Vaccinations are available for most of the diseases and are now a part of routine immunization schedule and are the best way of protecting your little ones. .
Mosquito borne illnesses: the most dreaded of all!!
Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by the tiger mosquito (Aedes aegypti). It has black and white stripes and typically bites early in the morning or at dawn.
Symptoms include fever, severe joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue and rash. Dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a specific complication that tends to affect children under 10 years of age. It causes abdominal pain and persistent vomiting, haemorrhage (bleeding), and circulatory collapse (shock).
There are no specific antibiotics or antiviral medication to treat it. For typical dengue, the treatment is rest and plenty of fluids (usually more than twice the recommended daily intake) and relief of the specific symptoms and signs. Pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should not be taken because of the possibility of worsening bleeding complications. Sometimes hospitalization for dengue maybe advised depending upon the patient’s condition.
One of the most common monsoon-related diseases, malaria, is caused by certain species of mosquitoes ( Female Anopheles) breeding in the dirty water. Since, there is a problem of water logging during the rainy season, mosquitoes get conducive conditions to breed. It is characterized by fever, body ache, chills, and sweating. If untreated, it can lead to complications like jaundice, severe anaemia or even liver and kidney failure. Malaria is treated with antimalarial medications successfully.
This is a mosquito borne viral disease, similar to Dengue. It causes fever and severe joint pains and can last for a long time. It doesn’t have any proper cure or vaccination. However, if your child is suffering from this disease, he must rest as much as possible and have plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Preventive measures for mosquito borne diseases–
- Make your kid wear a strong insect repellent containing DEET to prevent getting bitten. Electronic mosquito repellent devices can be used during the monsoon season to avoid mosquito’s at home. (Read Choosing the right mosquito repellent for your kid)
- Kids should also wear full sleeve clothing when out in the day.
- It is important to remember that the dengue mosquito usually bites only in the day time and breeds in clean, fresh water and malaria mosquito breeds in dirty water. So any water accumulation should be avoided. Regularly empty out still water sources, such as planter saucers and trays, pet water bowls, inflatable pools and decorative urns, around the home and in the garden.
- Insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS) have been shown to be highly effective in preventing malaria in your neighbourhood and can reduce breeding of mosquitos also.
Skin and fungal infections:
It is impossible not to get wet when it rains because going to school or to various activities definitely takes them out of the house. Due to skin being moist and wet all the time, chances of skin and fungal infections are quite high.
- Give them a warm shower right after getting drenched. This helps stabilizes the cold temperature brought by the rains, helping the body return to a normal temperature and also washes away the germs.
- It is easy to minimize the possibility of getting infections by ensuring that children dry themselves thoroughly once they reach home after getting wet. Avoid prolonged drenching.
- Wear dry shoes and socks – Children often ignore their wet feet and keep playing in wet socks and shoes unless they are told to change making them prone to infections.
- Wash feet with soap and water after stepping in a puddle – Make sure that your child removes his shoes and socks and washes his feet every time he/she comes in from playing in the puddles outside, especially the parts between the toes thoroughly with soap and water.
Conjuctivitis is a common monsoon malady. Ask your kids to not share handkerchiefs or towels. Keep them isolated in case they get this problem to avoid spread of infection. Wash hands frequently and avoid overly crowded areas.
Allergies and Asthma
Sometimes the rain leads to release of pollen into the atmosphere leading to worsening of asthma and allergies for some children (as against the normal belief that rain decreases the level of pollens). Kids suffering from allergies or asthma should always keep their medication on hand this season and take necessary precautions.
Rains are often a tempting time for kids. Falling sick though not advisable but is completely unavoidable. So the best you can do as a parent is just pay more attention to hygiene. Help your child stay healthy and safe this monsoon by following the above tips, without holding them back from enjoying the rain this season offers.
Healthy kids, happy kids !!
Dr Garima | themoppetsclinic 🙂