It is just April but with temperatures already soaring above 40 degrees, incidents of heatstroke, heat cramps and general exhaustion are on the rise across India.There is still a month to go before schools close for the summer break, and schoolchildren are at the greatest risk. “Children are very susceptible to sudden rise in temperature, extreme variations in day/night, as well as indoor/outdoor temperatures, due to consistent use of air conditioners,” says Dr Krishan Chugh, director and HOD, paediatrics and PICU, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon. The worst of summer is yet to come and it is best to take the following precautions:
Avoid the outdoors for long durations
Schools should conduct shorter assemblies in summer so that children do not stand in the sun for long. They should also not be sent out to play on an empty stomach.
Avoid direct sun exposure
Wear sunscreen, and as far as possible, carry an umbrella while stepping out to avoid tanning and sunburn.
Maintain food hygiene
Strictly avoid eating snacks from the school canteen or open kiosks to avoid food poisoning. Food and water-borne diseases are very common in summer. Only bottled/filtered water should be consumed outside home.
Dr RVS Bhalla, director and HOD, department of internal medicine, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, suggests the following:
Hydrate your body
Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. A lemon and honey drink can also instantly replenish your body’s lost fluids and work as an energiser. Drinking fluids even when not thirsty is helpful to keep the body hydrated.
Eat light, small, frequent meals
Start the morning with a sweet, juicy fruit. Ripe summer fruits such as peaches, plums, melons, pears and citrus fruits are a good choice. Include salads in your diet – consume leafy lettuce, summer greens, corn cob and cucumbers.
These contain significant amount of water and can actually thin the blood, which has a cooling effect. Ensure adequate intake of salt. Consuming the right proportion of salt helps maintain the blood pressure. Avoid caffeine, alcohol or excessive tea as they tend to dehydrate.
Wear loose, full-sleeved, light-coloured cotton clothes
These protect the body from the sun and aid in evaporation of sweat. Wearing a hat or sun glasses is also helpful.
Avoid vigorous physical activities
If you feel weak or dizzy after exposure to the sun, immediately take water or nimbu paani with salt and retire to a shaded cool place. Lie with your legs elevated for about half an hour to allow your body to recover and prevent fainting attacks.
According to Dr Rahul Nagpal, director and head, department of paediatrics, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, common health problems observed in babies during summer or seasonal variations are dehydration, fever, vomiting, sun stroke, prickly heat, dengue, malaria, chikungunya, insect bites, skin allergies and rashes.
Take the following precautions:
Keeping babies hydrated
Infants who are less than six months need to be frequently breast- fed to keep them hydrated. Mothers need to be hydrated as well so that the breastfeeding is adequate.
When bathing your baby, take special care to wash her neck, underarms and other visible folds in her body. Increasing the number of proper baths or sponge baths will keep her clean and cool. You could add a few drops of eucalyptus oil or neem oil to the bath to naturally disinfect her body. If you use massage oil, make sure to wash it off well during bath.
Avoid the outdoors
Keep your baby away from crowded places, direct sunlight and hot temperatures, especially the hot dry winds.
Choose the right clothing
Keep your baby cool and comfortable in loose-fitting cotton clothing that lets her skin breathe. If there are mosquitoes in your area then keep your baby’s arms and legs covered with clothes made from light, breathable material such as cotton or linen.
Home and surroundings
Ventilate your home by keeping windows open, unless hot dry winds are blowing. Pest control can also protect your home against all kinds of disease-causing insects, like cockroaches, ants and flies. Use a good quality disinfectant to clean your home.
Common illnesses infants are prone to in summer
Prickly heat rash: A baby’s sweat glands are still developing and so they are more prone to a heat rash than adults. You can use talcum powder on your baby as long as you apply it correctly. Dab it onto your hand away from your baby so that there is no chance of her inhaling any powder. Then apply it to the folds of your baby’s skin.
Dehydration: If you’re breastfeeding, you don’t need to give your baby extra water in summer to prevent dehydration. Just feed her every time she asks for it.
Heat stroke: Ensure your baby isn’t overdressed and that she’s getting enough fluids. Keep her away from direct sunlight and hot winds.
Viral infections: If anyone in the house has viral, ask them to wash their hands with soap regularly and keep your baby away from them. If your baby does get ill, a doctor will prescribe the right dose of paracetamol (according to the baby’s weight) that will help soothe her aches and help bring down her fever.
Here’s how to cope with the rising temperature
“The sudden rise in temperature from normal to extremely hot can make a person sick due to exposure to bacteria,” says Dr Ajay Aggarwal, director, department of internal medicine, Fortis Hospital, Noida. “ Additionally, it can weaken the immune system and make one more prone to germs. It is very common to see sudden changes in weather leading to fatigue, stress, skin irritation, loss of appetite and cough.”
Take Vitamin C: It can prevent you from contracting weather-related illnesses.
Maintain good hygiene: Keep your surroundings clean, avoid smoking and eating very spicy food.
Source: Hindustan Times