“Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”
Being prepared for changes and being knowledgeable is the right way of facing weather changes which are beyond our control.
Climate change is not in some far off future. It is happening now. We are experiencing increased temperatures, more extreme weather events, rising sea level, an extended pollen season, and shifting ranges of disease-carrying insects. Our children are already suffering from the effects of climate change, and will continue to suffer the health consequences – until we limit carbon emissions from power plants, end fossil fuel subsidies, and transition to a clean energy economy.
In India, we mostly brave three seasons: summer, winter and rainy. We do welcome a rainy surprise in the scorching heat of May but with the sudden downpour comes an unexpected tide of diseases and feeling of being unwell.
Whenever the weather changes, viral and bacterial infections spur up. This particularly takes a toll on the health of young kids. Upset stomachs (diarrheal illnesses), fever, cough, cold and sore throats are commonly observed in almost every kid. This not only disrupts the child’s health but affects his studies too since exams are mostly held during these months. The pressure of exams and poor health may adversely affect your child.
Children have fewer sweat glands than adults, making them far less effective at maintaining their core body temperature and more prone to overheating. A decreased ability to adapt to temperature changes combined with hot, sunny weather and heavy physical exertion can leave children suffering from heat exhaustion and even more serious condition like heat stroke. Below are a few tips to help your child stand high against the changing weather.
Things You Should “Do” to Combat the Changing Weather
Feed superfoods: It’s best to go natural and prepare the body to fight the increased viruses during changing weather. Give the child immunity boosting foods such as banana, chicken soup, fruit juices high in vitamin C, etc.
Ensure enough water intake: Water will flush toxins out and keep skin and body hydrated.
Vaccination: Depending on your child’s previous history of immunity as well as the place where you live, you may want to consider getting a flu vaccine.
Follow basic hygiene: Teach them to cover their mouth while coughing and frequently washing hands, particularly before and after meals. Instruct them against touching the eyes, nose and mouth as germs enter from these means.
Use stronger disinfectants: Simply add one cap of Dettol while mopping floor or cleaning the table. Invest in a hand sanitizer.
Relaxed sleep: Ensure that the child gets plenty of sleep and is rested. Stress weakens immunity and is likely to make him/her more vulnerable to seasonal changes.
Dress in layers: During morning it’s breezy, at noon it’s hot and at night it becomes chilly. It is advisable to dress your kid in multiple layers so that he can add or subtract clothing depending on the weather. The key is dressing appropriately.
Take care of skin and hair: Skin and hair may get dry and irritated. Indulge in aqua-based moisturizers. They are light, easily absorbed and leave no oily residue behind. Also try covering hair as much as possible, either with a scarf or cap.
Keep honey and ginger handy: Kids love this sweet potion and will love this in place of horrible smelling cough syrups. Ginger and honey may be combined to relieve itchy throat caused by sudden weather change.
Mosquito bite protection: Make your kids wear long sleeves, long pants, socks and shoes when in an area with high volume of mosquitoes.
The author is Dr. Oniell Fernandes, a Consultant Pediatrician at Narayana Medical Centre, Langford Town, Bangalore.