On average, children in early years and primary school catch six to eight colds a year, even higher in tiny tots attending nursery for the first time. So we asked Dr. Maha Darwich, Consultant Paediatrican at City Centre Clinic, Nad Al Hammar, for some advice on avoiding the most common malaises.
What are the most common illnessesin children presenting themselves at your clinic?
Definitely Flu. Your paediatrician will check whether this is bacterial or viral and, if viral, will make sure it is not one of the bad influenzas – such as influenza A or influenza B. Children who suffer from asthma tend to get more attacks when the weather cools down, as well as children who have what we call “viral induced wheezing or asthma”. Likewise, cases of bacterial respiratory infections are more frequent in autumn
What about teeny tots starting nursery for the first time, why do they seem to get so many colds and viruses?
Much to many parents’ dismay, children aren’t overly concerned about having a runny nose so the virus tends to end up on their hands, clothing, and toys via mucus. The virus can live for 30 minutes which is plenty of time for the infected child to touch everything around them, causing them to spread viruses easily.
What should parents be on the look-out for when it comes to colds and flu?
About half of children with a cold present with a temperature for the first two or three days and some will have a runny nose, a mild cough or won’t eat like usual.
How long should a child be kept at home with a fever?
If your child’s temperature is more than 37.8 degrees Celsius, they should be kept home from school. Once the fever has broken and there has been no fever for more than 36 hours, they are safe to return,
How can we keep our kids healthy at school?
As much as possible, keep your child away from people who are currently sick. While your child encounters plenty of germs throughout the day, direct exposure to an infection is just not worth it. You can also teach your child to wash their hands
And at home? Can you give us your top tips when there?
• Never let anyone smoke in the house.
• Keep humidity levels at a minimum by using exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms and a dehumidifier in the basement to prevent mould growth.
• Remove any water-damaged carpet and furniture promptly.
• Always open doors and windows when cleaning, painting, or laying new carpet.
There are also the usual tips to keep your children healthy such as feeding them a well-balanced diet and aiming for around ten hours’ of sleep every night, depending on the child’s age.
Dr. Maha Darwich, Consultant Paediatrician , City Centre Clinic Nad Al Hammar (04 205 2777).