Children need to be kept well hydrated and avoid junk foods Image Credit: Illustrative purpose

DUBAI: Doctors in Dubai are warning parents against a host of allergies and infections children can contract as they return to school this week after almost a month’s spring break.

Cold and flu are among the most common back-to-school illnesses, but pediatricians say the threat of infections like diarrhea and respiratory allergies during this time of the year remains just as great. Most children, especially those around the age of six, develop at least six to eight bouts of cold and flu in a year on average and most of those occur in September or April when schools reopen after a break.

Change of weather

“In many cases the change of weather has severe effects on a child, especially if he is coming back from vacation in a very different kind of climate,” explains Dr. Naveen Kumar, specialist paediatrician at the Aster Medical Centre in International City.

“Many who may not have been travelling but with low immunity will still contract flu from their friends in schools,” adds Dr. Kumar who receives almost 15-20 patients daily with respiratory syndrome during this time of year while another five to 10, he says, come to him with allergies and stomach ailments.

“The best way to stay safe is to avoid outside junk food and cold beverages while ensuring all vaccines are taken on time,” he advises.

Another Dubai paediatrician, Dr. Mohammad Zaheeruddin, reckons the risk of stomach bugs runs higher than flu among children as the weather changes.

“Once the summer starts just after this spring break, we do see lots of stomach bug in the air as most flu viruses are killed by the heat. So the key is to keep the child well hydrated and get him to avoid junk foods, especially those kept outside for long,” says the specialist paediatrician from Medeor Hospital 24/7, Dubai. “Visiting a doctor is a must even if a child has a sore tummy, let alone bouts of vomiting, diarrhea or fever,” advises the doctor.

The common ailments

1. If it’s high fever accompanied by headache, muscle ache and weakness, it is most likely flu virus which can spread through sneezing, coughing, talking or by touching a contaminated surface. Doctors therefore advise parents to keep students at home until the fever and symptoms are gone completely. A vaccine can be a very effective against the flu but not necessarily a cold.

2. Hand, foot and mouth disease is also another viral disease common among children below five that often occurs in the spring and fall. It is also highly contagious and symptoms include fever and sore throat.

3. Ear infections are most often caused by a bacteria or virus.