Why is your kid falling sick so often? How should you handle fever at home? – Times of India

Is your child falling sick too frequently? Is she missing school because of her health? Is he often getting down with flu-like symptoms where some symptoms like cough take excruciatingly long to go? Well, if that’s the case, you are not alone. All parents are busy consulting pediatricians these days because of the increased frequency of illnesses in kids. We all know that respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, typhoid, malaria and dengue are common during the monsoon season but to explore if the bout of infections this year are a normal occurrence or something that parents should be worried about, we spoke to two leading pediatricians.

According to Dr. Mahesh Balsekar, Sr. Consultant (Pediatric Medicine), SRCC Children’s Hospital, managed by Narayana Health, “While infections are rampant during the monsoon season, this year however seems to be different with a surge in several viruses at the same time. Staying indoors during COVID prevented us from getting normal viral infections, a sort of “infection honeymoon”. There are concerns that this may have reduced our immunity and may account for the surge in infections this year.”

Talking about the commonly reported symptoms and health issues, Dr. Vineet Kwatra, Senior Consultant, Pediatrics, Medanta Hospital shares, “These days we are finding children coming with high grade fever, coughs and colds. They are also coming with high grade fever lasting for more than 5-7 days which is no doubt turning out to be typhoid and a few dengue cases. This time we have also been seeing cases of Scrub typhus, where kids have high grade fever lasting for more than 5-7 days and not getting ok even with the regular antibiotics. We are not getting any swine flu cases as of now but yes, COVID cases among children have risen and we have seen patients with normal flu like symptoms in children turning out to be COVID positive but the good thing is that all these cases have been mild in nature as they were earlier.” “The common infections we are seeing are COVID, hand foot mouth disease, Influenza A, Swine Flu, gastroenteritis and bronchiolitis. We are also seeing dengue and a bit of typhoid and malaria,” adds Dr Balsekar.

How should the onset of fever be treated?

Panic strikes the moment parents see the child has fever. And that’s when most of us start self medicating to control it. Dr Kwatra suggests that parents should take fever seriously at home even if it’s a one day mild fever. The reason being that all the diseases which the pediatricians are seeing during this season present with a mild fever cough, cold, loose motions, vomiting and later progress to uncontrolled fever. “I would thus suggest to parents that if you find the fever is persistently there for more than 2 days, not coming down with any of the fever medications, don’t wait at home, please consult your pediatrician. Secondly, how to treat fever at home? First and foremost thing for a parent to do at home is keep the basic medications of fever at home like paracetamol. Paracetamol can be given as early as 4 hrs to every 6 hrs. Now even if the fever is not coming down with paracetamol, start sponging the child with tap water! Please not don’t use ice packs or cold water – it should be normal flowing tap water used for sponging. Even if the fever persists, the best way to get the fever down is by giving a bath to your child with normal flowing water. If the fever still persists for another 24 hrs, please visit your doctor as I have advised before.”

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Dr Balsekar recommends that fevers need to be treated only if a child is uncomfortable, usually when the fever is above 101 F under arm. “Parents should avoid trying to bring the temperature to normal and ‘break’ the fever because this leads to overmedication. Keeping the child in a cool room, lightly clothed and well hydrated is important. Most fevers are due to mild viral infections that settle in 2-3 days. If the child looks comfortable and well, the fever responds to fever medications, and there are no worrisome symptoms, it is reasonable to wait for 48 hours before seeing a doctor. However, any fever in young infants needs medical attention. Older children need to see a doctor if the fever is high or looks sick or has other worrisome symptoms. Any fever which is worsening or does not settle in 2-3 days similarly needs a doctor’s attention.”

The importance of Influenza vaccination

The Indian Academy of Pediatrics recommends the ‘Flu’ or Influenza vaccine to all children after 6 months of age and is advised every year till age 5. Older children are given the Flu vaccine only if they have reduced immunity or chronic diseases. During the COVID pandemic however, it has been suggested that older children should also be offered the Flu vaccine. “It should be very clear with the parents that this vaccination will not cover all kinds of flu in the air, but it surely helps to build the immunity of our children against the deadly flu viruses which includes the Swine flu. So in my suggestion, everyone should take a flu shot since prevention is always better than cure,” adds Dr Kwatra.

How to build immunity

A healthy diet plays a crucial role in upping immunity. But along with a good diet, daily physical activity, ample sleep, proper management of stress are some other important aspects of keeping a child healthy. Make sure they are given all the important vaccines on time and take proper health precautions to avoid exposure to illnesses.

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