Winter can be a magical season with snowflakes, cozy fires, and holiday festivities. However, it's also a time when various illnesses tend to rear their ugly heads, especially among children. The cold weather and close quarters can create the perfect environment for germs to thrive. To help you keep your kids healthy during the winter months, the team of OnlyMyHealth spoke to Dr Meenakshi Jain, Associate Director, Internal Medicine, Max Super Specialty Hospital Patparganj, Delhi, and, Dr Sanjay Bhatia, ENT Surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
Infections During Winter Months
Recently, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO), released an advisory on behalf of WHO on X (Formerly Twitter). He said, “We continue to see concerning trends for COVID-19 ahead of the winter season.” Even health authorities are concerned that COVID-19 cases could be threefold by year-end.
"Children get winter infections due to community transmission. Additionally, children who are allergic to pollen or surrounded by poor air quality also suffer ear, nose, and throat issues like nasal congestion and asthma attacks," warned Dr Bhatia. Here are some other illnesses that prevail during winter.
Dr Jain shared, “The flu is notorious for spreading during the winter. It is not as severe, but highly contagious. It is caused by the influenza virus.” She shared a few symptoms of the flu:
- Headache and body aches
- Sore throat
- Sore muscles
“The most common winter illness is the common cold, which almost everyone experiences at least once during winter. While most of us consider it as a sign of the changing season, the common cold can lead to pneumonia and sinusitis,” shared Dr Jain.
Respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia can become more prevalent in winter due to dry air. Dr Jain shared, “The most common cause of pneumonia is being exposed to extremely cold temperatures, and can range from mild to severe. Thus, it is better to prevent pneumonia than treat it.”
“When it comes to bronchitis, children and asthma patients are at a high risk during winters. Bronchitis is a respiratory infection triggered by syncytial virus,” she added.
Norovirus (Stomach Flu)
This highly contagious virus can lead to gastroenteritis, a condition that causes symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, shared the National Institute of Health. Reinforce proper handwashing before meals and after using the restroom, and be cautious with food hygiene.
Tips to Keep Your Kids Healthy In Winters
Sharing some tips that can ensure your kids stay safe and healthy during winter, Dr Bhatia listed:
- Encourage Vaccination: Make sure your children are up to date with their vaccinations, including the flu shot.
- Promote Good Hand Hygiene: Teach your kids to wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Healthy Diet: Provide a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables to boost their immune system. Do not let them eat ready-to-eat market foods.
- Keep Them Warm: Dress your kids in layers to keep them warm, like a muffler around the neck, a cap on the head, and hand gloves, to protect them from cold-related illnesses. You can also feed them hot soups and stocks of lentils or vegetables.
- Isolation: If someone in the family falls ill, isolate them as much as possible to prevent the spread of germs. Also, keep your child away from crowded places, and make sure that they wear a mask when they go out.
While you can't completely shield your children from winter illnesses, these tips will go a long way in reducing their risk and keeping them healthy and happy throughout the colder months. Remember, a little prevention can make a big difference in your child's well-being during the winter season.