Spring is here! The weather is warming up and flu season is almost over! This is the time of year for sun, fun, and relaxation. Unfortunately with the warm weather comes a different group of illnesses and medical hazards. So today we are going to get prepared for the spring months with a discussion of the common illnesses of springtime that we see in the Pediatric Emergency Room. Dr Katie Friedman, board ceritfied pediatrician and co-founder of foreverfreckled.com, will give you some great tips on how to keep your child safe during these otherwise fun months.
Common Illnesses of Springtime
Allergies. The reason for the spike in allergy flare-ups in spring is due to the blooming trees, plants and flowers. Pollen and other products of nature get carried by the wind and end up in our nose, eyes, and lungs. When this happens our immune system reacts to the foreign elements and releases histamine. Histamine causes swelling and mucus production in the nose, redness and tearing in the eyes, and itching. More seriously, it can cause wheezing, excess mucus production, and swelling in the lungs. Make sure you have the tools you need to fight against allergies including antihistamines, decongestants, combination antihistamine/decongestants, and cromolyn nasal spray! Make sure to plan ahead of time, especially if your child tends to wheeze. Speak to your doctor about a plan to fight against allergies before the season starts as it can be stressful for both you and your child.
Heat illness. I am already starting to see cases of heat illness in the ER! So let’s go over them and discuss how to prevent it from happening.
Heat cramps are brief, painful muscle cramps in the legs, arms, or abdomen that may occur during or after exercise in extreme heat. It isn’t dangerous but a painful sign that it is time to hydrate and cool off.
Heat exhaustion causes symptoms which include increased thirst, muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, irritability, headache, increase sweating, and fainting. If your child is having any of these, you need to take them immediately indoors, take off their clothes, place cool clothes on their body, encourage fluids with salt or sugar (Gatorade), and call the doctor.
Sun poisoning is a sunburn that forms large painful blisters on your body along with symptoms of fever, chills, nausea, headache, and signs of dehydration. To prevent these heat illness make sure your child is well hydrated. They need to be drinking fluids every 30-45 minutes while out in the hot sun. The best type of fluids are ones that have sugar and salt to replenish electrolytes. Sunscreen is imperative. Wear a sunscreen that has at least 30 SPF and apply it about 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Reapply sunscreen at least every hour and after you have been in the water. Wear protective clothing and limited sun exposure.
Food poisoning. Bacteria loves warm, moist environments and therefore the amount of cases of food poisoning increases significantly during the summer. A quick and easy rule to avoid food poisoning- hot foods should be kept hot and cold foods should be kept cold. Try to avoid dishes that have been in the sun for an extended period of time.
Mosquito ticks, and more. Unfortunately mosquitoes are not only annoying but can be extremely dangerous. Mosquito-born infections are usually causes by arbovirus and can lead to serious illness including Zika Virus, St. Louis encephalitis, and dengue fever. Tick-borne infection increases significantly during the spring and summer months. Lyme disease is popular in the media right now, but Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis are other infections spread by ticks as well. It is so important that you make sure your child is not only wearing sunblock but bug spray too. I recommend using an organic bug spray as the chemicals used to repel the insects can be strong.