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Stop Springtime Sneezing
05th October, 2017
The transition from winter to spring brings many things, spring flowers, green trees and yes, spring colds. Spring is the perfect time to be outdoors for kids, especially after the long winter of playing indoors. Unfortunately it’s also the perfect time for pollen to end up in our noses, eyes and lungs. Children often get colds at this time too and infections can occur in the ear, eye and sinuses. What to do with the sniffles this spring and how to tell when an ear, eye or sinus infection is brewing.
What Causes A Cold?
A cold is caused by a variety of viruses, most commonly the rhinovirus, and each is contagious. It’s also called an upper respiratory tract infection and can affect your child’s nose, throat, ears and sinuses. The virus can spread to others through coughing, sneezing or close contact. The virus may be left on objects such as doorknobs, beds, tables, cribs, and toys. Your child can get infected by putting objects that carry the virus into her mouth. Your child can also get infected by touching objects that carry the virus and then rubbing her eyes or nose.
Research suggests that stress and allergies that affect your nose or throat may raise your chances of getting infected by a cold virus. Children are prone to getting colds. They are frequently at play with other children and putting their fingers into their mouths after touching dirty surfaces.
Children usually have up to six or eight colds a year. They will be more prone to getting a cold if they are stressed – not having enough sleep and not having enough liquid to drink.
Symptoms: A runny nose with cloudy nasal discharge and fever is probably a cold. The symptoms should go away in a week to 10 days. Colds can bring on a nasty mix of symptoms that can really wear your child down and make him or her feel exhausted.
They can include:
- Sore throat
- Stuffy nose
- Mucous build-up
Treatment: Because the common cold is a virus, antibiotics won’t help. But over-the-counter medications may make your little one feel better. Doctors recommend that the remedies chosen should target a specific symptom, so choose something for the stuffy nose or for the headache for example.
Most important is plenty of fluid and sufficient rest. Not easy with the little ones, but often they don’t have the energy to run around anyway.
Infections In The Ear, Eye And Sinuses
Most colds last about seven to 10 days. If your child’s symptoms linger, you may need to call the doctor. Sometimes colds lead to an infection by bacteria in the lungs, sinuses, or ears. Bacteria thrive in a moist dark environment and if there is no way to escape (due to the blocked nasal passage) they remain in the sinus cavity. If that happens your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, which work against bacteria but not against viruses.
Treating Your Sinus Infection
If you think it is a sinus infection, take your child to the doctor. Mostly these acute infections go away on their own or after a simple course of antibiotics. Sinus irrigation is also recommended to clear the sinuses.
The following may indicate a sinus infection in your child:
- A cold lasting more than 10 – 14 days, sometimes with a low grade fever
- Thick yellow-green nasal drainage
- Post-nasal drip, sometimes leading to or exhibited as a sore throat, cough, bad breath, nausea and/or vomiting
- Irritability or fatigue
Ear Infections Can Develop With Colds
Your child has a bothersome cold for a week. In the same way as the bacteria lodge in the sinus cavities, so the bacteria can move into the middle ear behind the eardrum where it is dark and moist. Ear infections are the most common reason for antibiotic prescriptions.
Main Symptoms Of Ear Infection In Children
- Your child may have two or more of these symptoms
- Cold symptoms – keep in mind that ear infections are almost always preceded by a cold. Often a clear runny nose will turn yellow or green before an ear infection sets in.
- Fussiness during the day or night
- Complaining of ear pain or hearing loss
- Night waking more frequent
- Unwillingness to lie flat
- Fever – usually low grade or may not have a fever
- Sudden increase in fussiness during a cold
- Ear drainage – if you see blood or pus draining out of the ear, then it’s probably an infection with a ruptured eardrum. Do not worry. The experts assure that these almost always heal just fine, and once the eardrum ruptures the pain subsides
Eye Infections Can Develop In Spring
Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis is the most common eye infection affecting kids. It is highly contagious and often spreads among children in day care centres, classrooms and similar environments.
Viral conjunctivitis may also occur along with an upper respiratory tract infection, cold, or sore throat. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by infection of the eye with bacteria such as staphylococcus aureus. Cold viruses can live on objects for several hours and can be picked up on the hands of other children who touch the same object. These children then get infected when they touch their eyes.
A virus: If your child has conjunctivitis as well as cold systems, the infection is most likely viral.
Bacterial: if your child’s eyes are producing a thick yellow discharge that causes the eyelids to swell or stick together, bacteria such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, or haemophilus are probably to blame.
Fortunately, most common bacterial eye infections clear up, particularly with prompt treatment such as prescription antibiotic eye drops or ointments and compresses.
Many common viral eye infections resolve on their own. In cases of severe viral eye infections, an antiviral eye drop may be prescribed. Some viral eye infections require careful administration of steroid eye drops to reduce related inflammation.
How To Prevent Eye Infections
If you are near a person with a red eye, avoid contact around your own eye until you have washed your hands first. Hygiene tips to stay germ free:
- Teach your child to wash their hands after the toilet and before they eat. The Mayo clinic suggests that you teach your child to wash their hands with soap and water for a count of 20 seconds or to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer – a cleaner that doesn’t require water.
- Teach your child to cough into the crook of the arm (this prevents the germs spreading) or into their sleeve rather than into their hands.
- Teach them not to put their fingers in their mouths, eyes and ears where possible.