KOCHI: As we say goodbye to the scorching heat of the summer, the monsoon arrives with its various maladies. Children are more prone to various diseases during these days as they are more vulnerable.
The diseases can vary from a simple fever to many life-threatening diseases. Hence prevention of illnesses and early diagnosis and prompt management is necessary. Below mentioned are a few diseases you should wary of this monsoon.
Viral fevers are the most common during monsoons. High temperature, fatigue, chills, body aches and sometimes mild upper respiratory symptoms like cough and cold are common. The symptoms typically last for 3-7 days with the severity of the fever being the highest in the first three days. The fever often subsides without any treatment and even paracetamol is indicated only when the child either extremely tired during the fever. However, it is always good to consult your paediatrician.
Common cold (Flu)
Symptoms involve the runny or stuffy nose, body ache, throat irritation and soreness and fever. The best way to prevent the common cold is frequent hand washing, using hand sanitizers and having a balanced and nutritious diet which will develop the immune system of the body and improves the body resistance. If the child develops fast breathing, chest retractions, refusal of feeds or lethargy, take the child promptly to the nearest health care facility.
The general symptoms of gastroenteritis are stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. Fever can develop and the child can become irritable or lethargic during the illness. Most of the times it is due to viral illness and self-limiting but good hydration should be ensured. ORS can be used to rehydrate the child slowly and if not available, try rice gruel or tender coconut water. Avoid eating from unhygienic places and raw food because it is difficult to ascertain whether they have been washed, cleaned and stored at the right temperature. Drinking boiled water and sticking home food is advised.
Typhoid is another waterborne bacterial infection caused by bacteria called Salmonella. It occurs as a result of poor hygiene and sanitation. Common symptoms are fever, headache, tiredness, sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting and loose stools. The infection can remain in the gall bladder of the patient even after he/she is cured. The preventive measures include avoiding eating street food, provide clean drinking water, better sanitation.
Hepatitis A (Jaundice)
It is caused by Hepatitis A virus resulting in a highly contagious liver infection. Eating foods that were contaminated during handling can cause the spread of infection. The symptom of this disease is directly related to the inflammation of the liver that's caused by a virus which includes, jaundice, stomach pain, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, diarrhoea and fatigue. In most cases of hepatitis A, the liver heals within six months with no lasting damage. Practising good hygiene is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A.
Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by tiger mosquito (Aedes Aegypti). Symptoms of dengue fever include severe joint and muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fever, exhaustion, and rash. Rest and fluid intake (oral rehydration) is important. Pain relievers such as aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should only be taken under a doctor's supervision because of the possibility of worsening bleeding complications. Pain killers can be given for headache and joint and muscle pain (myalgia).
It is caused by coming in contact with dirty water or muck. Walking in paddy fields with barefoot increases the risk of getting the disease. The bacteria get into the body through small cuts in legs when coming in contact with water contaminated by rat’s urine. Symptoms include fever with chills, body ache, muscle pain, headache and red eyes. Often the child will need admission to hospital and treatment with iv antibiotics. Late diagnosis can be life-threatening. Prophylactic treatment with doxycycline is often needed for children from flood-affected areas.
It is a deadly bacterial disease that spreads during monsoon through poor sanitation. Symptoms include severe diarrhoea with watery stool and vomiting which causes immediate water loss and muscle cramps. Diarrhoea can be so severe that it leads to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. The goal is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes using ORS. The ORS solution is available as a powder that can be reconstituted in boiled or bottled water. Preventive measures include providing clean drinking water and better sanitation.
The author is a senior specialist in Child and Adolescent Health, Aster Medcity.
(Views expressed are his own)