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Common summer ailments among children: Symptoms, prevention, treatment |

Health And Family

Common summer ailments among children: Symptoms, prevention, treatment

Dolly Dy-Zulueta -
Common summer ailments among children: Symptoms, prevention, treatment
While outdoor play is encouraged, know when sun exposure is more helpful than harmful.
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MANILA, Philippines — When children’s idea of fun is to slouch on the couch and play digital games endlessly, you kind of wish they would take up some outdoor games that would challenge them physically and keep them fit and healthy.

But now that it’s summertime and your young kids are actually playing in the backyard with neighborhood friends all day, you are also worried — this time, over the fact that it is summer and the searing heat opens up the possibility of your kids getting sick. Summer, after all, is the season for ailments, and there are health conditions that crop up during the season.

Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), through its Department of Pediatrics, enumerates summer’s most common ailments among kids and shares tips on how your kids can avoid getting them.

Skin conditions

Kids who stay out in the sun too long are bound to get one or a combination of common skin conditions, such as prickly heat and sunburn.

“Prickly heat, or bungang-araw, is an itchy and uncomfortable rash that develops when your sweat glands are blocked and sweat cannot rise to the surface of the skin to evaporate,” said Angelica Cecilia Tomas, MD, of MakatiMed. “Adults get it, but children get it more because their sweat glands are still developing.”

To beat prickly heat, apply calamine lotion or talcum powder to soothe the itchy, stinging sensation.

Keep kids cool by making them wear loose, light-colored apparel. Tight clothes can be uncomfortable and dark-colored ones absorb heat.

While outdoor play and more movement is encouraged for kids, it's important to be aware of the hours when sun exposure is more helpful than harmful. "Morning sunshine is still best for outdoor play.  Ask your kids to take a break from playing (or play in a shaded area) when the sun’s rays are at their most intense — between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — and have them hydrate regularly by drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day,” advised Dr. Tomas.

In case a child develops a painful sunburn, give him a cool bath or apply a cold compress to the sunburned area. "Applying aloe gel or topical moisturizer also helps relieve the burn," the doctor said. 

Food- and water-borne diseases

“Food poisoning is the result of consuming spoiled food and drinks. It happens more often during summer because bacteria thrive in hot weather and multiply in warm, moist places,” explained Dr. Tomas.

Unsanitary food handling also adds to the risk of food contamination.

Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea and fever are telltale signs of someone who may have eaten spoiled food. “If a child exhibits such symptoms, give him or her plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration,” the doctor said. 

But, as people say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. So prevent food poisoning from happening in the first place. Make sure the people who prepare the food observe sanitary practices by handwashing and cooking food thoroughly. It is advised to consume the food immediately after it’s cooked and store them in clean containers. If anything looks, smells, or tastes funny, throw it away!


Otherwise known as tigdas, measles is a viral disease characterized by large, red flat blotches on the skin. The first signs of measles usually appear seven to 14 days after exposure to a person with the virus. Most common symptoms are high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes or conjunctivitis. The rash would appear after three to five days.

According to Dr. Tomas, “In the Philippines, cases of measles reach their peak in the summer months. It’s an airborne disease, and when a child infected with the virus doesn’t cover his mouth when he sneezes, the infected droplets spread into the air, contaminating others.”

Vaccinations protect your kids from catching measles. “Ideally, the first dose should be given at nine months, the second dose between the ages of 12 and 15 months, and the third dose between the ages of four and six years,” Dr. Tomas pointed out. 

Sore eyes

Sore eyes (conjunctivitis) is spread when your child touches his eyes after getting in contact with things (like toys) containing the eye secretions of an infected person. It can also enter your child’s eyes while he’s swimming in a poorly chlorinated pool. Symptoms include redness in the eyes, a watery or pus-like discharge in the eyes, difficulty opening the eyes in the morning, and pain when the eyes are exposed to sunlight.

“If the conjunctivitis is viral and without complications, it can heal on its own within a week,” she explained. “But if it is bacterial and affects vision, see an ophthalmologist for proper assessment and medication.”

“Again, hygiene is the best way to prevent sore eyes,” said Dr. Tomas. “Wash your hands regularly, don’t rub your eyes when your hands are dirty and do not share handkerchiefs and towels with anyone.”

RELATED: How can students cope in extreme heat? DOH shares tips

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