x6 Tips to protect children from cold weather

When the temperature drops, the energy levels of kids drop as well. Here we present to you some healthy information to keep illnesses in your children at bay during this season. Winter is a favorite season for kids – the cold weather, the long sleeping hours, endless cups of hot beverages – the list goes on. With a drop in temperatures and weakening sun’s rays, your child can face difficulties adapting to the environment’s transition. A stronger defense mechanism for your child is vital during this period. Their immune system has to be on high alert mode to combat various illnesses like colds, sore throats, ear infections, flu, etc. An immuno-compromised status warrants unwanted risks and troubles in your child’s health; thus, she becomes vulnerable to illnesses in this cold season.

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Illnesses during the cold season:

The cold weather results in less blood supply in the body. This reduction in blood flow means there are lesser white blood cells (WBCs)) available to fight against foreign bodies. It is important to understand that colds and flu are not caused by cold weather; rather they are caused by viral infections of the upper respiratory tract that your child catches from pollutants or contaminants.

Some of the illnesses that are active during this cold season are:

Common cold: Is caused by a virus that infects the nose, sinuses, throat, and airways. They’re often spread through contact with mucus. When your child catches a cold, it is the immune system that causes symptoms such as a runny nose, ear block, fever, etc., due to changes in the internal body conditions to favor white blood cells fighting against the viruses effectively.

Influenza or flu: Is like a common cold but much more serious. Children are two to three times more likely to be affected by the flu than adults. It is caused by a virus that infects the lungs and airways and can be spread through direct contact or airborne droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.

Sore throats: These are caused by viruses and transmitted similarly to colds and flu.

Bronchitis: This is most commonly seen among kids under 5. The illness, an inflammation of the airways, is usually caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergies.

Asthma: It is an inflammation of the bronchioles that occurs when a trigger or allergen causes the airways to tighten. Cold air is a particular trigger of asthma attacks. Encouraging your child to breathe through the nose and not the mouth helps to maintain the air exchange balance.

Allergies: Allergies arise because of viral or fungal infections more commonly during winter. Allergies reveal themselves in several ways including rashes, fever, asthma, and anaphylaxis.

TIPS to keep your child healthy during the cold season:

1. Proper sanitization:

As your child’s immunity battles against illnesses, it is safer to keep her surroundings and things sanitized. Since children are mostly indoors during the cold season, make sure that the home is cleaned and sanitized often, especially during and after rains, as the moisture calls in fungal attacks. Encourage her to keep her belongings such as school bags, toys, clothes, socks, etc. clean and free of moisture. Wash toys with soap and water and then allow them to air dry. Remind her not to touch surfaces and things outdoors. When she touches an infected surface or thing and accidentally rubs her eyes or nose, that’s when the infection attacks her. Ensure she carries a bottle of sanitizer in her bag always to apply after using the toilets and before eating. Washing hands and legs after coming from outside is a must. Make sure she wears clean, sanitized clothes and socks. If anyone catches the flu or cold at home, it is advisable to keep your child off from using the infected person’s pillows, towels, etc.

2. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet:

Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is a key component to improving your child’s health during this season. Your child’s immunity is greatly influenced by the food he eats. Hence, including more immunity-boosting foods such as antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, spices, etc. in his diet will keep him safe from illnesses.

Skipping meals should never be encouraged, especially, never letting them skip their breakfast. When they skip breakfast, the body gets deprived of nutrients and hence is more vulnerable to catching infections as they start the day. Showing them the importance of nutrition in preventing illnesses and involving them in menu planning will help you strike the chord of imparting a balanced diet to your child.

3. Hydration:

Fluids play a major role too during this cold season. While we all feel thirsty and drink gallons of water during summer, it is as important to drink more fluids during winter too. Hydration is an important factor for winter wellness, even if your child doesn’t feel thirsty. As the body’s core temperature rises due to the drop in the environmental temperature, there is a chance of winter dehydration to occur, when your child does not drink enough water. Winter dehydration can make her sick, and cause exhaustion, muscle fatigue, and cramps. When dehydrated, she is more susceptible to winter colds and flu too.

There are several steps that you can take to improve her water intake in winter. Make her drink hot/lukewarm water, which is also safe from microbes. You can flavor the drinking water with lemon or orange wedges. Prepare more soups, green teas, and other herbal decoctions (tulsi, sage, etc.) at home which are diuretics (frequent urination) in nature, to prevent urinary infections. In winter, it is common to feel the thirst being quenched with a smaller amount of water than in summer. Encourage your child to take small sips of water very often. Drinking a glass or two at one go may be quite difficult but taking small sips every 15 minutes should be no problem.

4. Enough sleep and rest:

Sleep has a great impact on how our immune system functions. Robust changes during the regular sleep-wake cycle not only affect the physical and mental activity of your child but also impacts cardiovascular function, temperature regulation, and immune parameters like leukocyte and cytokine production. Lack of proper sleep results in a pro-inflammatory state.

Sleep deprivation can lower the immune system, making the child vulnerable to being affected by germs and bacteria. Make sure he winds up his homework and study time early and finishes an early dinner. Let him avoid the use of electronics before bed, which keeps him from falling asleep.

5. Outdoors Vs. indoors:

As most infections during this season are airborne, restrict visits to air-conditioned places like malls, theatres, and restaurants. Though staying indoors sounds like a safer and easier option, research suggests that it is an unhealthy option. Staying indoors will deprive your child of being exposed to sunlight which lowers her Vitamin D status. Vitamin D deficiency has been proven as a major cause of lowered immunity in children.

Another reason why staying indoors is not ideal is that it cuts down physical activity. Staying home in this climate will tempt your child to curl up in her bed and stay cozy. Lack of physical activity lowers her immunity. Hence, encourage her to go play outdoors or engage in any form of brisk physical activity, to improve her immunity and stay healthy.

6. Clothing:

Shivering depresses your child’s immune system. Dress your child in layers of clothing depending on the temperature outside. Staying warm and covered prevents illnesses. Remove his wet clothing and socks immediately after getting back home. Keep his ears covered when you go out to prevent ear infections. Read this blog with Pritish Kumar Halder and get tips to protect children from cold weather.

reference from: –Wikipedia

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