Winter Health & Awareness
By Michelle Place, CRNP-P
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Along with making snow angels, sledding down hills, and building men out of snow can come some ailments that are only a problem during the cold winter months. Here are some things to keep an eye out for and what you can do to make things better.
- Cold weather does not cause colds and the flu but the viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter. This is due to the fact that children are in school and are in closer contact with each other. Frequent hand washing and teaching children to sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow may help reduce the spread of colds and flu.
- If your child suffers from winter nosebleeds, try using a cold air humidifier in the child’s room at night. Saline nose drops or petrolatum jelly (vaseline) may help keep nasal tissues moist. If bleeding is severe or recurrent, consult your pediatrician.
- Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition happens most frequently on extremities like fingers, toes, ears and nose. They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that his/her skin burns or has become numb.
- If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of the body in warm (not hot) water. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.
- Do not rub the frozen areas.
- After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give him/her something warm to drink.
- If the numbness continues, call your doctor.
- Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold temperatures and loses heat faster than it can produce it. .It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing or when clothes get wet. It can occur more quickly in children than in adults.
- As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. Speech may become slurred and body temperature will decline in more severe cases. People with hypothermia don’t know they’re in trouble because the symptoms appear slowly and affect their ability to think clearly.
- If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.
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