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Doctors said students are likely to catch a cold, allergies, rashes or other symptoms of a flu during this time of the year, especially when they are young. So necessary preventive care must be taken. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: With children back in school, UAE doctors are advising caution against contracting the seasonal flu.

Doctors said students are likely to catch a cold, allergies, rashes or other symptoms of a flu during this time of the year, especially when they are very young. As they get older, they gain more immunity and tend to be stronger.

Dr Sadeem Bashiti, consultant paediatrician at Health Bay Polyclinic Dubai, told Gulf News: “At schools and day care centres, kids are in close contact with each other and it is natural that they are more prone to catch a flu than adults as their immune system is still developing.”

Defence mechanism

Dr Bashiti said young children usually experience fever, “which by itself isn’t harmful”.

Dr Sadeem Bashiti,

She explained: “It is important to understand that fever, defined as an elevation in core body temperature above normal values, is a common presentation of a wide range of pathologies. The fever by itself isn’t harmful as it is a defence mechanism by our body to fight infection and part of immune response. Most frequently, acute fever is due to self-limited viral infections and uncomplicated bacterial infections and resolves within a week or less. Sometimes it can be recurring due to new infection or same one which is not resolved yet or it can have other causes than infection and when this recurs, often we need to see a doctor.”

When to see a doctor?

Dr Bashiti advised parents to bring their children to a doctor if the fever persists and is not improving; and if there are other other symptoms such as sore throat, skin rashes, diarrhoea, vomiting or tiredness. Parents should watch their children for symptoms and monitor if they are showing weakness, loss of appetite or other symptoms.

“The child should rest to fully recover and not go to school so as not to transmit the infection to others,” Dr Bashiti added.

Preventive steps

Dr Ekta Dinesh Naik, specialist paediatrician at Al Sharq Hospital Fujairah, said with the flu season here, flu vaccination is a very important preventive step.

Dr Ekta Dinesh Naik

She said: “It’s mostly viral fever... If the child is eating well, doing his routine work and the fever is for two days only, parents can give paracetamol and more oral fluids. They should consult a doctor if fever persists for more than two days.”

“Taking precaution is also very important,” she continued, explaining: “Kids should wear masks in school, do regular handwash and drink a lot of water.”

Dr Bashiti added: “As parents, our main role is prevention and this lies in two things: vaccination and basic good hygiene. So, I advise parents to visit a doctor and make sure vaccines are up to date, especially against the seasonal flu, as well as COVID-19.”

She continued: “Take precautions and boost kids’ immunity with healthy lunch packs that are less in sugar. Do regular exercises and make them sleep early.”

Common back-to-school illnesses: Know the symptoms

• Colds – Symptoms are most often mild with cough and runny nose. Colds are often caused by one of many possible viruses, which means antibiotics are not necessary. Children may experience sore throat and/or fever with a common cold.

• Flu – Typically causes high fevers and body aches, along with cough, congestion and runny nose. Flu vaccine can be taken before the actual onset of flu season.

• Stomach flu – Also known as gastroenteritis, it causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It is most commonly caused by a virus affecting the stomach and intestines. Staying hydrated is vital when having stomach flu.

• Strep throat – This is caused by a bacterial infection. Antibiotics are recommended to prevent complications from the infection.

• Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye – This is highly contagious and can be caused by either a virus or bacteria. Antibiotic eye drops are sometimes necessary to clear the infection.