Parents, Watch Out For These 5 Wintertime Health Hazards
Minor injuries and illnesses can occur at any time of year, but the harsh conditions and cold temperatures of winter often mean an increased risk for kids. Because of this, it can be more difficult to make an appointment with your child’s primary care physician — and unless it’s a true medical emergency, you should generally steer clear of the emergency room. In many cases, these conditions can easily be treated at your family urgent care facility. Here are just a few of the most common diseases and injuries kids experience during this time of year:
The flu can pack a real wallop, even in healthy adults. The onset is quick and is accompanied by high fever, body aches and chills, sore throat, headache, cough, and gastrointestinal issues. Considering that it can last for over a week and can lead to more serious conditions if left untreated, you should get your child vaccinated as early as possible. The vaccination can take up to two weeks to take effect. If you think your child may have come down with the flu, make a visit to your walk-in urgent care as soon as possible. If caught early enough, a physician may recommend a flu treatment like Tamiflu for faster recovery.
- Winter sports injuries
Winter recreational activities pose more dangers simply because of slippery conditions. Even something as harmless as sledding down a hill can lead to serious injuries like broken bones or head trauma. While it’s important that kids stay active during the winter months, they need to be properly supervised and safety precautions need to be followed. When ice skating or playing ice hockey, make sure your child is wearing skates that fit well. If they’re going skiing or snowboarding, make sure they wear protective goggles and that their equipment is in good working order. Don’t forget the helmet, either! If your child suffers bodily harm, visit the ER or your family urgent care clinic right away.
- Strep throat
Generally, strep is a common winter occurrence for school-aged children. Throat pain, difficulty swallowing, swollen lymph nodes, and fever are indicators of strep throat. Since strep is highly contagious, you should get your child in to see a doctor at your family urgent care clinic right away if you suspect he or she might have it. Usually, physicians will perform both a rapid test and a throat culture. Should the test(s) yield a positive result, antibiotics are typically the best course of treatment. However, kids can still infect others for 24 hours after the first dose is taken, so you should keep your child home for at least that long to avoid spreading the bacteria to others.
If kids are playing outside in cold temperatures, they may fail to notice tell-tale signs of frostbite. These signs include reduced blood flow to the extremities and digits, numbness, stinging or tingling, or a blue tint to the skin. If left untreated, frostbite can cause permanent damage. Dress children in warm layers and make sure they use hats, gloves, earmuffs, scarves, and protective boots with thick socks. Wet clothes can increase the chance of heat loss, so make sure your child doesn’t stay in them for a long period of time. If you see signs of frostbite, get your child into a warm room and immerse the area in warm water. Alternately, you can use body heat to warm up the area. Do not use a heat lamp, heating pad, or fireplace for this. If these methods do not work, take your child to the ER.
- Common cold
Colds happen a lot, especially in children. You can expect these sicknesses to occur at least a few times during the year. Although there is no real cure for the common cold, you can make your children more comfortable and treat their symptoms. First and foremost, they need lots of fluids and rest. Children’s ibuprofen may be appropriate if they complain of aches or a fever. You may want to consider a nasal spray or cool-mist humidifier. Typically, children recover from colds within a week or so. If they haven’t bounced back after 7-10 days, you should visit your family urgent care facility to make sure it’s nothing serious.