9 Illnesses that Affect Kids in Winter
|   Jan 10, 2017
9 Illnesses that Affect Kids in Winter

Winters bring in the need for the much needed warmth in the relationships and cheer for everyone. However, it also paves way for illnesses which kids can become easily prone to. Here are some winter illnesses to watch out for in kids.

Common Cold

Chances your child will catch it: 99%. Young kids typically get 3 to 10 colds every year.

Symptoms: A runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, cough, sore throat, headache, and mild fever.

Contagious?: Yes, for about five days.

Advice:  Make sure your child gets plenty of fluids and rest. Use a cool-mist humidifier. Give her infants' or children's ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce the fever and achiness, and saline nose drops if she's congested. Honey 1 teaspoon daily after the age of 1 year is not only protective but good as a treatment as well.

You need to know: Cold germs can live on toys, door handles, and other surfaces for up to two days. There are more than 200 cold-causing viruses, so chances are your child will catch a different bug each time. But she's more likely to stay healthy if you teach her to avoid touching her eyes and nose and to wash hands frequently (and thoroughly).

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

Chances your child will catch it: 90% children are infected by age 2.

Symptoms: RSV causes common cold symptoms and in up to 40 percent of cases triggers bronchiolitis, an infection of the small airways, which leads to wheezing, rapid breathing, and a persistent cough.

Contagious?: Yes, both during the incubation period (four to six days) and for three to eight days afterward.

Advice: Treat RSV as you would for a cold. But call your doctor as soon as possible if your child has fast or labored breathing. He might need nebulization or, in severe cases, could require hospitalization.

You need to know: Air irritants make RSV symptoms worse, so avoid exposing your child to cigarette smoke, wood-burning fireplaces, and perfumes.

Stomach Flu (Viral Gastroenteritis)

Chances your child will catch it: 90 % kids will get at least one stomach bug by age 4.

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Contagious?: Extremely. Your child is highly infectious for as long as she has diarrhea, and the virus can live in her stool for several weeks after that.

Advice: Give your child plenty of fluids (such as coconut water, soups, apple juice and Pedialyte) to prevent dehydration. If she can't hold anything down, have her take small sips through a straw or from a spoon or a dropper.

You need to know: Thanks to the rotavirus oral vaccine (which is safe for babies 2 months and older), 79 percent fewer children now get this serious stomach bug.


Chances your child will catch it: 77% children come down with this virus by age 2.

Symptoms: Although the telltale sign is a red rash across the body that can last for a few days, most infected kids simply develop a fever, a cough, and possibly diarrhea.

Contagious?: Your child can infect others until his fever breaks, but the rash itself isn't contagious.

Advice: Treat the fever with Paracetamol, Simply ignore the rash, which looks a bit like measles but isn't itchy or painful and will go away on its own.

You need to know: The virus that causes Roseola can stay in the body and reactivate, so it's possible your child could get it again.

Ear Infection

Chances your child will catch it: 75% kids have one by age 3.

Symptoms: Your child is likely to have a fever, pull at her ears, and be irritable. She may also have trouble sleeping.

Contagious?: No, but the cold that led to the ear infection probably is.

Advice: Ibuprofen or paracetamol will reduce the pain and fever. Your pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics or wait to see if the infection clears up on its own.

You need to know: An ear infection can literally appear overnight. The ear may look perfectly fine one day, and the next day there's a full-blown flare-up.

Flu (Influenza)

Chances your child will catch it: Up to 40% kids come down with the flu each year.

Symptoms: High fever, body aches, chills, sore throat, cough, runny nose.

Contagious?: Yes - your child could pass it on for about two weeks.

Advice: The best medicine is prevention: Make sure your child gets a flu shot every fall (once he's at least 6 months old). If the virus is diagnosed within 48 hours and he's at least a year old, your doctor may give him medicine to reduce the symptoms and duration of the illness. Otherwise, simply treat it as you would a common cold.

You need to know: Flu shots won't completely protect your child since different strains of the virus hit every winter, but they're still well worth getting: Kids under 2 (and those of any age who have asthma) are at high risk for complications - including dehydration and breathing problems - that may require hospitalization.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Chances your child will catch it: 20%

Symptoms: Painful, blister-like sores in the mouth and bumps on the palms, fingers, and soles of the feet, often accompanied by fever. Depending on the severity of the sores, your child may not want to eat, drink, or walk.

Contagious?: Yes, especially while she has symptoms (which usually last for about a week).

Advice: Treat with pain relievers and give semi-solids or fluids at neutral temperature like coconut water, cold soups, juices, buttermilk, yogurt etc. Avoid anything tart, salty, or spicy.

You need to know: The coxsackievirus can remain in your child's stool for several weeks, so wash your hands thoroughly after a diaper change.

Viral Croup

Chances your child will catch it: About 16% by the time she's 6 years of age.

Symptoms: This viral infection of the voice box and windpipe causes a barking, seal-like cough, stridor (a harsh, high-pitched noise when your child takes a breath), and hoarseness. All tend to be more severe at night.

Contagious?: The viruses that cause croup in little kids are contagious, but older children and adults who are infected are likely to just get a cold.

Advice: Run a hot shower, and have your child sit in the steamy bathroom until his symptoms ease. Taking him outside into the cold air may be even more effective at stopping the cough. Your doctor may prescribe steroids for serious cases.

You need to know: If your child seems to be having difficulty breathing or her ribs are pulling in and out with each breath, call your doctor or head for the ER right away.

Dry skin

It is a common condition and is often worse during the winter, when environmental humidity is low. Moisturizing is essential during winter. Contrary to popular belief, moisturizing lotions and creams aren't absorbed by the skin. Instead, they act as a sealant to stop the skin's natural moisture evaporating away. The best time to apply moisturizer is after a bath or shower while your skin is still moist, and again at bedtime.

Top tip: Have warm, rather than hot, showers. Water that is too hot makes skin feel more dry and itchy. Hot water will also make your hair look dull and dry.

Prevention is better than cure: Germ-Proof Your Child

  • Have your child wash her hands before meals, after using the bathroom, or whenever she touches other kids, pets, or communal toys. Make sure she scrubs for 20 seconds.
  • Always keep baby wipes or a sanitizing gel in your diaper bag, your purse, and the car.
  • Teach your child to sneeze or cough into a tissue. If he doesn't have one handy, he should use the crook of his elbow.
  • Steer clear of toys and books in public places, which are loaded with germs.
  • Don't share personal objects with your child - including utensils, toothbrushes, cups, washcloths, towels, and combs and don't let siblings share them either.                

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