With temperatures rising, we’re all prone to illness — and kids are particularly vulnerable. Here’s what to look out for and how to treat them
School is over and your children cannot wait for a summer full of adventures outdoors.
The last thing you want is for them to be unwell, but summer illnesses can crop up when least expected.
Dr Jeff Foster reveals the most common conditions children might suffer from this season, and how to prevent them ruining your fun in the sun.
All that running around the garden and splashing in the pool in the hot sun comes with the risk of heat exhaustion. Left untreated, this can quickly lead to heatstroke.
Symptoms: Children will first become lethargic and thirsty. After this, they may experience headaches, dizziness and confusion, nausea, excessive sweating and have pale, clammy skin. In more severe cases, children will develop cramps, fast breathing/pulse, and a temperature.
Treatment: Take your child to a shady area, cool place indoors or an air-conditioned car. Remove any excess clothing and, rather than water, give them a sports drink that contains sugar and salt. If you’re worried, call your doctor for advice.
Prevention: Encourage kids to drink plenty of fluids, before and during activity, when it’s hot — even if they’re not thirsty. Light-coloured, loose clothing and sunscreen are vital, and avoid the midday sun.
Whether it’s wasps, bees, mosquitoes, ticks, ants or spiders, it’s handy to know what to do if these bothersome bugs bite or sting your child.
Symptoms: Children will likely cry or tell you they’ve been bitten. Look for a red, inflamed circle, with a bite mark in the middle.
Treatment: A topical antihistamine or oral antihistamine like Benadryl or Piriton is usually enough. If your child has difficulty breathing or their tongue/lip is swelling, call an ambulance as they may need adrenaline for an allergic reaction.
Prevention: Carry an antihistamine in your bag should a bite or sting occur.
Outdoor play can become miserable if your child has a pollen allergy.
Symptoms: Hayfever often mimics a cold — causing a blocked, runny nose, sore throat and itchy or runny eyes. But also look out for sneezing, a tickly cough and occasional rashes that get worse in certain environments, such as fields and cut grass.
Treatment: Daily antihistamines are effective — your pharmacy can help. Liquids, nasal sprays and eye drops are also available, and stronger medicines can be sought from your GP.
Prevention: Adults can have a steroid injection, but unfortunately there is no real prevention for children, apart from keeping them away from trigger areas.
It’s refreshing to see children ditching the TV for the garden. But the last thing you want is for your kids to end up burnt.
Symptoms: Look out for red, sore tender areas of skin that have been exposed to the sun and remember this may not show until several hours later.
Treatment: A cool shower, aftersun and lots of water to keep hydrated. In severe cases, where exhaustion or blistering occurs, see a doctor. Prevention: Avoid midday sun and apply SPF50 sunscreen to your kids in the morning and reapply throughout the day — there is no evidence to suggest factor 50 blocks vitamin D.
We all enjoy a sizzling barbecue, but leaving certain foods in the heat can cause harmful bacteria to develop, like salmonella — and babies and children are most vulnerable to food poisoning.
Symptoms: Your child starts to vomit within a few hours of ingestion. Diarrhoea may follow and flu-like symptoms, with or without a temperature. The real worry is the dehydration caused — young children in particular can get dehydrated quickly.
Treatment: Fluid and sugar, along with paracetamol, can help. If the symptoms persist, your doctor may take a stool sample to look for specific bacteria.
Prevention: Be sure to cook meat through properly, serve food immediately and keep salads, rice, dips and dairy cool. Always wash hands after touching raw meat.
Edited by Julia Sidwell
Dr Jeff Foster can be found at twitter.com/@doctor_jef