Parents, do you pay extra attention to your child’s health only when the weather is colder in Singapore? You might even start to worry if he or she have caught a cold. As such, it might surprise you to know that fever due to hot weather can take place here at home, among other illnesses in kids such as the common cold to even Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD).
It has been reported that Singapore is expecting dry and warm conditions during the first two weeks of March and could continue its transition into April with high heat and humidity. And especially among little kids, fever due to hot weather is a common occurrence in Singapore.
According to Joe Perno, M.D., medical staff affairs officer at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, the viruses present during summertime or hot weather can cause high fever, diarrhoea, dehydration and vomiting.
Hence, it is extremely important for parents to stay alert and take all the necessary precautions to protect little ones from heat-related illnesses. In the rest of the article, we explore the various heat-related illnesses that could affect your child during the hot weather.
Fever Due to Hot Weather and Other Heat-related Illnesses Affecting Kids During Summer
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
According to Joe Perno, there tends to be a spike in Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases during summertime. This viral infection is common especially in kids less than five years of age. It is said to be caused by the Coxsackie A16 and Enterovirus 71 viruses.
Symptoms of HFMD include ulcers inside the mouth especially in areas like tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks along with blisters on palms and soles, as well as fever. Diagnosis is carried out based on symptoms, usually lasting for about 3 to 6 days. Symptomatic treatment such as fluids and medication for fever can help the child recover from the illness.
Consider these treatments for your child:
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion occurs when the intake of liquids is less than the amount needed by the body. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a serious condition as compared to heat exhaustion—and can be fatal in extreme cases.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include increased thirst, weakness, irritability, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, headache, increased sweating, fast heartbeat, dark-coloured urine due to dehydration and high (usually 104 °F or more) fever due to hot weather.
Some warning signs of heatstroke include flushed or red skin, troubles in breathing, fainting and seizures. Babies, kids and the elderly are more susceptible to heat exhaustion.
Here are several ways you can prevent heat exhaustion:
- In cases of high temperatures outdoors, take your child to a cooler place in intervals.
- Ensure that your child wears light-coloured, lightweight and loose-fitting clothes.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or above, and make use of an umbrella or hat.
- Ensure that your child drinks plenty of water. An insufficient intake of water can lead to dehydration and loss of body salts. If your child is hydrated, the urine will be clear. Otherwise, the urine will be dark-coloured, indicating that he or she is experiencing dehydration.
- If possible, avoid outdoor activities during late morning, afternoon and early evening.
Consider these preventive measures:
Does it surprise you that your child could catch a cold during hot weather? Common cold is said to be transmitted by virus-infected airborne droplets, when in contact with people who have contracted the infection. Whether cold or hot, the temperature has little influence on how kids can potentially catch a cold.
During the warm and sunny weather, parents might opt to bring their kids indoors to escape the heat. It makes them more vulnerable to the common cold when they are in proximity of those infected.
Symptoms of common cold include coughing, having a sore throat, sneezing and a runny nose. Take the following preventive measures to protect your child from the common cold.
- Ensure that your child is eating healthy and is active.
- See to it that your child washes his or her hands thoroughly with soap and water. He or she can also use hand sanitisers, but note that it is not a substitute for the washing of hands.
- Encourage your child to spend more time outdoors than indoors.
- Keep household items clean and free from dust.
Consider these treatments for your child:
Amebic Meningoencephalitis is a severe infection of the brain caused by Naegleria fowleri, a free-living amoeba that is commonly found in warm freshwaters of lakes and rivers. It is also found in warm, dirty and stagnant waters of swimming pools, not chlorinated from time to time. Kids get infected when water containing the amoeba enters the nose and travels to the brain.
Symptoms include severe frontal headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations and coma. This fatal disease is common among kids and young adults.
Some preventive measures include:
- Instructing your kid to avoid swimming or jumping in warm freshwater lakes and rivers.
- Using nose clips on kids when jumping or diving in water.
- Avoiding swim activities in shallow, warm freshwater due to disturbing sediments.
Mosquito and Tick-Borne Infections
Mosquito and tick-borne illnesses are common especially during hot weather. Mosquito-borne infections are caused by arboviruses and can lead to Dengue fever, St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile encephalitis and Eastern equine encephalitis.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease are among tick-borne illnesses identified. To protect your child from these infections, ensure that she/he is fully clothed while outdoors. Use repellents if your kid is playing in grassy, forested areas, or regions with insects. Application of soybean and citronella oil on body can also prevent mosquito bites.
For a detailed list of mosquito repellent options safe for babies and kids, click here.
That said, with proper prevention put in place, kids can enjoy the warm, sunny weather without falling ill. It is always a best practice to ensure that your child consumes plenty of fluids even if he or she is not thirsty, wear loose cotton clothes, limit outdoor activity on hot sunny days, and have sufficient amount of rest.