It's time to get ready for a long summer, and it's at this time of year, when children are spending more leisure time outdoors and with friends when they are likely to suffer from those common illnesses/afflictions. However, if you take some preventative action, then you may be able to avoid some of these and if the inevitable happens, then here's how to treat them:
Common Summer Health Concerns Sunburn
Sunburn is the most obvious. Everyone needs moderate exposure to the sun every day since it's the source of Vitamin D. However, excessive exposure can lead to sunburn, skin damage and the possibility of developing skin cancer in later years. The most harm happens to a person's skin in their first 18 years of life. Consequently, if your child is going to be outdoors in the sun for more than 20 minutes if they then make sure they wear protection: that they wear a hat, a cotton T-shirt to cover the back and shoulders and apply a sunscreen of SP30 or above.
Common Summer Health Concerns Sunstroke
Sunstroke happens when someone stays in extreme heat, so make sure your child is drinking plenty of liquids during the summer months and not exposed to excessive amounts of heat for extended periods. If they have too many layers of clothes on and are running around in the weather all day, then this can also cause sunstroke. Symptoms include hot, dry, flushed skin, which then goes pale or purple; shallow or rapid breathing; high pulse and high body temperature; headaches; and dilated pupils. If you suspect your child has sunstroke, then get them into a shaded area immediately to cool down and give them plenty of water. You should also consult a doctor.
Common Summer Health Concerns Allergies
There are many types of allergy seen in small children (and adults too). The most common include grass, molds, pollen, certain chemicals, dust, insects, poison ivy, animal hair and certain foods or food additives. Symptoms may include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, difficulty breathing, cough, skin rash, and diarrhea. Treatment depends on what the allergen is and how bad their reaction to it. Keep them away from the source, and the symptoms should disappear. If you can't then you can give them some over-the-counter antihistamine.
Should your child be unfortunate enough to have a severe allergic reaction and go into anaphylactic shock, i.e., wheezing, problems breathing, tongue swelling, etc., then either call 9-1-1 or drive them to the nearest medical center/hospital immediately. A tip here: if you have some antihistamine handy, give them that before leaving for the emergency room. I gave my son half of an adult's antihistamine when he went into anaphylactic shock and when I got to the hospital, the doctor told me I probably saved his life.
If your child has any severe allergies and is going to be spending the day at a friend or relative's home or in daycare, then make sure whoever is responsible for him/her is aware of the allergy and that you leave medication with them.
Common Summer Health Concerns Eating Outdoors
Bacteria thrive in a warm and moist environment. Therefore food poisoning and diseases due to food infection are more common during summer days when your family is out enjoying picnics and barbecues.
Cold food should be kept in a more relaxed with the lid down. Limit the number of times you open it so that it stays cool longer. Also, pack your cooler in such a way that you are keeping raw and cooked foods separate and there is no cross-contamination, e.g., between cooked meat and fresh fruit.
Barbeque meat thoroughly. It should then keep it hot until eaten - keep it at the side of the grill or wrap it in foil in an insulated container until it's ready to be eaten.
The same applies for both hot and cold food - it should be thrown out after being exposed to the air for two hours (one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees).
Avoid buying any food from outside vendors and instead carry around fruit and other healthy snacks in case they feel hungry (and of course plenty of water and fruit juices to keep them hydrated).
Common Summer Health Concerns Pests
Mosquitoes are not only incredibly annoying but will leave you with itchy, red bumps, and there is also the possibility that they may be carrying the West Nile virus. If your child is going to be taking part in outdoor activities in the early evening, keep their skin covered as much as is practical and then be sure to use mosquito repellent on all parts of the body which is not protected by clothing. If your child does get bitten, you can apply calamine lotion or bug bite cream to the area to reduce itching and inflammation. There are also some excellent over-the-counter remedies available for mosquito bites.
- Deer Ticks
If your kids are going to be playing in a wooded area or long grass, then make sure that they are clothed as much as possible, with their shirts tucked into their shorts, etc. Again, spray repellent on any exposed area of skin. Check your child thoroughly, and if they have been unfortunate enough to pick up a deer tick, then you should remove it carefully with tweezers, ensuring that you get the whole tick. Then clean the area entirely with cleanser and water. Deer ticks carry Lyme Disease and can make you seriously ill; therefore, if your child exhibits any these signs, you must take them to see a doctor immediately: pain and swelling; red streaks leading from the area; swollen glands; fever and chills.