Autumn sure is cooler and it is a welcome break from the hot summer days.
Unfortunately the change in weather temperatures may mean bad things for some people especially children, elders and those with low immune system. Autumn and winter ushers in several seasonal illnesses that we should all aim to prevent and fight against.
Here is a list of the most common illnesses during the colder months of autumn and winter. Please remember that the best way to help a sick child is to visit a doctor. This is just a list and is not a tool to diagnose or treat anyone.
The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection meaning your nose and throat. It is usually harmless but it can cause some unease and difficulty for children and they may get frequent infection in school.
Colds usually manifest a few days after infection and it usually causes runny or stuffy nose, itchy or sore throat, cough, congestions, slight body or head ache, sneezing, watery eyes, low-grade fever and mild fatigue.
The cold will go away on its own.
Parents can help provide comfort and strive to make the virus go away as quickly as possible before it turns for the worst.
Encourage the habit of frequently washing hands as it is the best way to avoid getting infection. Also, avoid sharing utensils, cups and other materials that may transmit the virus faster.
Influenza or flu
Influenza or flu is a viral infection and it is usually more intense than the common cold. Patients may feel extreme tiredness, headaches and body aches together with a high grade fever, chills, sore throat, dry hacking cough, vomiting and belly pain.
Like the common cold, the flu is contagious and the virus can be passed on easily though the air, direct contact with someone with the virus or by sharing toys, utensils and other materials in school and at home.
The flu may go away on its own in less than 2 weeks. However, the virus may cause complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
The government and other health organizations encourages flu vaccine for children who are 6 months old and up. Other vulnerable groups like elders, pregnant women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are being encouraged to have flu shots.
The National Immunization Program for 2016 flu shot is available in April for free (consultation fees may apply). Visit your GP or immunization provider for more details.
According to Asthma Australia, asthma is a long-term lung condition that makes sufferers have difficulty breathing. Asthma sufferers have sensitive lungs that “flare-up” due to triggers. When flare-ups happen, “the muscles around the airway squeeze tight, the airways swell and become narrow and there is more mucus.”
In other words, people who have asthma already have irritable and reactive lungs. This makes cold and flu season more problematic for sufferers because viral infections can make symptoms worse.
US researchers call it the “September epidemic” the combination of fall and winter weather and the start of the school year creates an upswing in the number of children in emergency rooms for acute asthma symptoms.
If your child has asthma, take control of the asthma symptoms before it worsens. If your child is suffering from asthma or you think it may be asthmatic symptoms, call or visit your GP.
Viral bronchiolitis is usually caused by a virus known as the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). RSV infects the lower respiratory tract causing airway obstruction. It is usually not that serious for most children infected except that it may be confused with symptoms similar to asthma with associated viral respiratory infection.
RSV that usually peaks during fall and winter season is also responsible for illnesses such as metapneumovirus, rhinovirus and influenza.
Bronchiolitis usually begins as a cold. It then turns into a cough and the breathing becomes fast and wheezy sounding. Some children are admitted to the hospital because eating and drinking may become difficult for some infected children.
Since it is viral, being infected by the virus is much the same way as in common colds. Therefore, avoid contact with people who are sick with the virus and make sure to wipe and clean surfaces and materials used by the patient. In addition, wash hands frequently to prevent the spread of the virus.
Ear infections are common in children after suffering a cold. Children may pull or run their ears during an infection.
Unless advised by a doctor, do not use oil, eardrops, or cotton buds. Viral infections are not treated with antibiotics. Most infections will clear by itself after several days.
A side effect of the infection is a slight hearing problem but it should be better in two to six weeks according to healthdirect.gov.au. If the hearing problem persists, visit your GP at once.
Norovirus is a viral infection that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
It is highly contagious and “are a leading cause of gastroenteritis in Australia and worldwide. It usually happens any time of the year but it is more common in winter gaining it the moniker “winter vomiting.” It is also known as “gastric flu,” “stomach flu” and “viral gastro.”
Gastroenteritis caused by norovirus is usually sudden with vomiting and watery diarrhea, nausea, fever, stomach pains, headaches and muscle pains. Vomiting is more common and frequent in children. Symptoms begin 24-48 hours after infection and lasts one to two days.
Like most viral infections, avoid contact with people who are sick with the virus and do not share utensils, toys and other materials. It is also smart to wash hands frequently to prevent the spread of the virus.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine available and it is important to keep children infected hydrated and well-rested.
The change in seasons is necessary change in the environment and the changes may also influence our bodies as well.
It is important to stay healthy all the time by eating nutritious food with plenty of vitamin C, exercising and having enough sleep everyday.
Good hygiene is also an important tool in keeping viruses at bay.
If a child or any family member gets sick, get your GP’s opinion first before giving any medication to avoid misdiagnosis, overdose and unnecessary complications.
Lastly, do not let these common seasonal illnesses to prevent you to enjoy the season. If you take the necessary preventive measures, you’ll have a lesser chance of getting infected.
Have a healthy autumn season!
Special thanks to QuotesGram for the main image.