Winter is upon us, and the thought of children getting sick is at the forefront of most parents’ minds. If you follow our Facebook page, you know we have been keeping you up to date with COVID-19 news. It’s easy to forget about all the run of the mill illnesses that tend to crop up in the Winter.
Whether you keep a bottle of sanitizer in every room of your home or follow all safety guidelines laid out by your pediatrician, sickness can overcome a household in days when left unchecked. If you are a parent or guardian and want to keep the memorable moments rolling in this winter season, here are the domains you must keep an eye on in subsequent months.
6- And 7-Year Olds: Ear Infections and Hearing Issues
Now that your child is past the first five years of their lives, it’s time to play the game of “what’s that symptom?” Although this period contains thousands of joyful experiences and blissful occasions, it’s often the time that parents dread the most: their child’s first serious bout of illness.
Between ages 6 and 7, children are susceptible to getting bacteria and viruses in the mucus membranes that line the insides of their ears, noses, eyes and mouths. More specifically, inner-ear infections are the most common reason parents schedule appointments with their pediatricians in the winter months.
First and foremost, let’s explore the warning signs that your child has an ear issue that’s gone undiagnosed. If one or more of these symptoms are plaguing your child’s waking hours or bedtime routine, it’s time to get into your pediatrician’s office as soon as possible:
Vertigo and inability to walk straight
Unbreakable fever and hot-and-cold flashes
Night Time shifting and restlessness that disrupts sleep or napping
Excessive crying and hysterical behavior
Scratching, tugging and picking at ears
Pus and mucus draining from the ear
When left untreated by your pediatrician, ear infections can damage the delicate pathways of the inner ear, leading to significant hearing loss and lack of coordination. For parents who want to test their child for hearing loss, try performing the clap test.
To do this, stand behind your child or slightly out of a normal speaking distance without notifying them of your presence. Once in place, firmly clap your hands, noting their reaction to the stimulus. If your child is unresponsive or cannot determine the location the sound came from, an ear infection is the most common explanation.
8 and 9: A Fun-Filled Time With Friends, Family and Classmates
All fun and joking aside, the age bracket between ages 8 and 9 is when your child is entering school with a focused tenacity to excel in sports, academics and social connections with people they interact with daily. With their increased interest in group-based events, after school activities and gatherings, it’s the time when parents may deal with a less-than-pleasant experience: Bronchitis.
Bronchitis fills the airways with excessive mucus and virus-filled fluids that inflame the delicate underpinnings of the lungs, throat, mouth and saliva. And to make matters worse, Bronchitis is a virus that transmits in the blink of an eye without remorse. If your child touches a surface with saliva or mucus that contains one or more of the Bronchitis strains, it’s only a matter of time before they showcase the following symptoms:
Unwavering fatigue and sluggishness
Sleeping longer than normal
Raspy and labored breathing
Nasal drips and excess mucus in the throat
Head and chest pressure
Inability to sleep
The tricky part parents run into when self-diagnosing Bronchitis is being able to tell the difference between the common cold and something more severe. As a rule of thumb, Bronchitis typically attacks the lungs and deep-rooted airways, whereas colds inflame the nose and mouth. If your child is beginning to show symptoms that are located in their chest and throat, reaching out to your pediatrician is the next step you should take.
10 and 11: The Window Before the Teenage Years
A common joke that parents exchange with one another is that the ages between 10 and 11 are the final moments of calmness before the storm. Although expressed in jest at social gatherings and get-togethers, it holds some merit: kids in this age bracket are making impressive developmental milestones in their cognition and ability to formulate complex pattern recognition. However, it’s also a time they’ll start pushing boundaries and finding new ways of unintentionally getting themselves sick.
As an extension of their curiosity comes the issue of dealing with Gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu. Stomach flu is tricky because it initially presents with trivial symptoms. Stomach aches, small amounts of fatigue and excessive bathroom visits are nothing to be concerned by, but when it happens every waking second for multiple days in a row, it’s time to get an opinion from a pediatrician.
Once the severity of your child’s symptoms ramps up, you’ll notice watery stool, staggering nausea, debilitating cramps, fever and sweating. Although rare, untreated stomach flu can lead to nerve damage, kidney damage and severe medical episodes.
12 and Later
Now that your child’s preteen years are on the horizon, there’s one variable left on the table: croup. Croup is typically an illness reserved for newborn children less than a year of age, but don’t be surprised if your 12-year-old begins manifesting telltale symptoms.
Croup rears its ugly face by giving your child a horrible cough. And this isn’t a typical cough, either: it’s an unmistakable experience that turns the heads of every person within 30-foot proximity of your child.
Croup cough sounds almost identical to a barking animal when it’s trying to get attention. If this sounds confusing, pediatricians often report how similar the sound of croup-cough is to a seal barking in a local zoo. Moreover, this dry, hoarse cough trails off with a high-pitch whistle in severe cases of croup.
This ear-shattering tone is something physicians and medical professionals refer to as ‘stridor.’ Stridor breathing and coughing produces auditory ordeals that resemble breathing underwater, having a clogged airway or a crimped lung. And while you’re at it, check for these symptoms associated with croup:
Loss of voice or inability to speak
Hoarse breathing patterns
Lethargy and fever
Rejection of food and liquids
Croup, although a relatively harmless illness, can turn serious without remorse. Rather than waiting until whistle-tone breathing or barking coughs begin, seek guidance from a pediatrician you trust.
Never Too Late
With snow beginning to fall in certain parts of the country, many parents and guardians feel it’s a hopeless battle protecting their children from the common issues that arise in frigid temperatures. On the contrary, it’s never too late to take a proactive stance against childhood illness and sickness.
And if things in your home turn serious, find a local pediatrician who knows what issues young people face. These highly-trained professionals will give you holistic measures, strategies and tips to keep your beloved safe and protected in the weeks and months to come. Whether this is your only child or your 10th, playing offense is always the best defense when dealing with poor health, bacteria and viruses!