So it’s that time of the year again. With all the excitement of starting the new school year with new uniforms, teachers and peers, parents tend to forget that schools are like a “virus pool”. This is particularly true for September in Dubai, when children return from holidaying in literally every corner of the world, and bugs have opportunity to spread to new hosts in the closed environment of nurseries and schools. Around 2 weeks into the start of the new school term, most pediatricians’ offices are full of patients with common childhood infections.
While most simple childhood infections are self-resolving, it takes its toll when multiple family members become sick, or illnesses are frequent.
How can you keep your kids from getting sick?
Truth is, you can’t. But you can start with simple preventative lifestyle measures such as a nutritious diet with plenty of water, regular exercise, restricted screen time, and a good amount of sleep each night. Avoid overburdening them with after school activities and play dates. It’s okay to decline a birthday party invite when you already have three the same weekend!
Other vital preventative measures are keeping up with their childhood immunizations, and isolating your child at home when he/she is sick. So often I see the concerned parent of my patient who is afraid of disappointing their child by telling them they have to miss a school excursion or friend’s party. I remind them that this is how we allow our child to rest and recover from their illness, and prevent spread to other children. And I personally believe it builds resilience in a child by teaching them about their health and the impact on others, as well as coping with disappointment.
When should you see a doctor?
Simple viral infections such as the common cold will resolve spontaneously in a few days and can be treated at home with symptom relief. Any unusual symptoms such as high fever with rash, breathing difficulty, headaches, lethargy or vomiting which is preventing oral intake warrants urgent medical attention. For a fever which is manageable at home with a child who is active and feeding well, you can often wait till the next day to seek medical advice. This depends on the individual case of course.
More than ever before, doctors are able to perform rapid diagnostic tests in their clinic office eg nose or throat swabs, urine checks. This aids diagnosis and has helped a lot of patients get correct treatment sooner, and vice-versa to avoid unnecessary tests and treatment such as antibiotics when not indicated. So if for instance your child has a sore throat and the school has informed you that there’s a case of ‘strep throat’ in the class, it would be wise to see a doctor sooner rather than later to get tested.
In addition to the above, we recommend young children continue to have an annual medical checkup if they have not seen a doctor for any acute illness. This helps us keep an eye on their growth, development, and immunizations. It also gives parents an opportunity to seek professional advice on any aspect of the child’s general health and well-being. The visits can be stretched out to 2-yearly in a healthy older child that attends secondary school.
Dr. Misha Sahu
MBBS (Hons), Dip Paed, FRACP (Australia)
The Village Mall | Jumeirah 1, Dubai
Tel: 04 343 6684
Dr. Misha is a graduated from The University of New South Wales in Sydney in 2003. Her post-graduate qualifications include a Diploma in Paediatric and Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Dr. Misha worked at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Sydney’s prestigious tertiary Paediatric institute, for 7 years, with experience in a wide range of general and community Paediatric conditions. She also has extensive experience in undergraduate medical education.
Upon moving to Dubai, Dr. Misha began her career in a busy Paediatric hospital unit before moving into private practice. She is also registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.
Dr. Misha believes in promoting healthy living, while caring for illness in a holistic, individualized, patient-centered manner.