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Ways to protect children from infections

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Ways to protect children from infections

It is possible to reduce infectious diseases, which increase with the winter season and spread especially among children in schools, with protective measures taken by both schools and parents. Currently, the most important of these are Influenza, Covid-19, rhinovirus, parainfluenza, and RSV viruses and Streptococcus bacteria (beta). Anadolu Health Center Child Health and Diseases Specialist Dr. Ayşe Sokullu said, “The ideal precaution is for children who are infected with any infectious disease to rest at home and not go to school so that they do not transmit the infection to other children.” Dr. Ayşe Sokullu talked about ways to protect children from infections…

It is much easier for us to take precautions against infections as long as our children are with us. However, the situation becomes difficult in schools that provide crowded environments and where there is no chance to intervene. It becomes easier for children, especially at nursery age, to infect each other with diseases when their understanding of personal hygiene is not yet developed.

Parainfluenza virus, one of the common viruses among children attending schools and nurseries, affects areas close to the vocal cords and can cause a cough similar to the sound of a dog barking. Influenza (seasonal flu) can cause high fever, intense muscle pain and fatigue. While rhinovirus mostly affects the nose, it causes symptoms such as headaches, nasal congestion and cough. Covid-19 can also present with influenza-like symptoms.

Measles, rubella, which are also transmitted through respiratory tract, “infectious mononucleosis”, which we call “kissing disease” among the public, parvovirus (5th Disease) and chickenpox can cause rashes in various parts of the body. Additionally, secondary infections such as pneumonia following measles and chickenpox may also occur.

In virus infections affecting the gastrointestinal system, symptoms such as fluid loss with watery stools, fever and vomiting may occur. In bacterial intestinal infections, the stool may be more dense, bloody or mucus-filled. Fever and vomiting are similar.

Hygiene is important

Children’s eating habits, the behaviors and attitudes required when they are sick, or the precautions to be taken before getting sick are important. Even though parents cannot see their children at school, they should not give up control. First of all, personal hygiene behaviors should be established at home and set as an example. The most important step in protecting against infection is hand cleaning. Even seeing parents washing their hands frequently is an important education for children. It is almost impossible to get children to talk about what they experienced at school. Therefore, while doing this, indirect questions can be asked to children coming home from school. For example; “Are you washing your hands?” instead, “Does your soap smell nice at school?”, “Do they clean your classroom?” instead, “What is the name of the aunt/uncle who cleans your classroom?” The situation at school can be learned with questions such as questions that will test both the child and the school about hygiene.

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Sick children should rest at home

The risk of infection is higher in crowded schools where children have difficulty accessing toilets and water. Because infections are mostly transmitted manually. In particular, flu viruses can survive for nearly 24 hours on some items that children touch at school, such as plastic or wood. Viruses that are mostly transmitted by droplet infection; It lives in pieces of saliva suspended in the air by coughing and sneezing. Therefore, when it is crowded, it becomes easier for children to breathe this air. Frequently ventilating classrooms is as important as cleaning hands and the environment.

The ideal precaution is for children who are infected with any infectious disease to rest at home and not go to school to avoid transmitting the infection to other children. It is also very important that children do not kiss or hug their sick friends at school during the winter period, when diseases increase, and that they do not use the materials used by their sick friends. Generally, with rest, fluid and nutritional support, upper respiratory tract infections can be overcome in a week without medication. However, if there is difficulty in lowering the child’s fever and providing nutritional support, if there is vomiting and there is a family history of seizures, home treatment management will be difficult. At this point, it is more appropriate to have the treatment in a well-equipped health center.

It is wrong to overprotect children

The susceptibility of school-age children to microorganisms that cause infection may vary depending on some attitudes of their parents. Overprotective attitudes; For example, preventing children from playing in the park, on the street or in the garden also prevents them from meeting nature’s microorganisms. This may cause children’s response to those microorganisms to remain at a lower level and cause severe infections. If a child grows up in a sterile environment where he or she never encounters microorganisms, he or she may be caught unprepared at school age. Second children are usually sick in infancy but are not very sick when they start school. The reason for this is that his older brother or sister brought diseases home from school when he was a baby, and because of these diseases he had as a baby, he became immune to the diseases he would encounter at school age. However, when first children enter kindergarten or primary school, they encounter viruses and bacteria as they enter a crowded environment for the first time, and they become infected more frequently at school.

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Antibiotics are not used for every infection

Exercise, like everything else, is extremely important in strengthening the immune system against infections. Taking children outdoors every day, ensuring that they move regularly, even for a half-hour walk a day, and participating in regular sports activities if possible, positively affects both their immune system and social and psychological development.

The most important causes of upper respiratory tract infections in children are viruses. In virus infections, fluid intake, resting the child by reducing activity, and regular nutrition are the most important parts of the treatment. Antibiotics have no place in the treatment of viruses. Today, the experience of the Covid pandemic has also shown that a virus infection that raises the temperature to 40s can be treated completely without medication.

On the other hand, group A Beta-hemolytic Streptococcus infections, often known as “Beta” and the most common bacterial upper respiratory tract infection agent in children, must be treated with antibiotics.

If the child’s immune system is weak, bacterial factors may be added to the background of viruses. Accordingly, diseases such as sinusitis, otitis media, pneumonia and bronchitis may also be observed. This is due to the potential for easy infection by opportunistic microorganisms. In this case, we can say that antibiotic treatment is required.

In children with viral infections, the immune system fights the virus. Some children can overcome this battle in 1-2 days, some in 10 days. However, there are no scientific studies showing that the immune system of those who recover early is stronger and those who recover late are weaker. Every child, especially under the age of 5-6, is likely to have a fever or infection at least once. However, in children who have frequent tonsil infections, recurrent bronchitis and pneumonia, recurrent diarrhea, osteomyelitis (bone inflammation, joint inflammation), deep tissue abscesses, and meningitis, the question “Is there a weakness in the immune system?” The question comes to mind. In such cases, and in children who are developmentally behind their peers, it may be necessary to perform tests to evaluate the immune system.

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NUTRITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS TO PROTECT AGAINST INFECTIONS

To strengthen the immune system in school-age children;

  • You should definitely start the day with breakfast and include some carbohydrates, protein and fat. For this; Eggs, fruit yoghurt, cereal mix or a home-made fruit cake are suitable. It is also important to sweeten your breakfast for the daily calories needed; Molasses and honey may be on the menu.
  • Especially in winter; In terms of fiber content, pears, citrus fruits rich in vitamin C, and at least one of the greens (spinach, chard, broccoli, parsley dishes) should be eaten.
  • At least one of the dairy products such as cheese, milk or yoghurt should be preferred. Children who are not allergic to cow’s milk can be given a glass of milk a day. Additionally, milk/yoghurt should not be consumed alongside iron-rich foods, otherwise the iron value of the food will decrease.
  • Corn flakes/cereal mixes should be chosen without sugar.
  • Some beneficial herbs such as mint can be added to the meals.
  • Prepackaged foods and candies should be avoided (in this sense, children should not be allowed to watch junk food advertisements).
  • Vitamin D supplements should be taken under doctor’s supervision during the winter months.
  • Foods rich in Omega 3, such as fish, should be eaten twice a week, but there is no obligation to take Omega 3 tablets during the winter. Omega 3 supplements can be made with fish oil during special periods, stressful situations such as exams, or when there is a periodic malnutrition.
  • Dried fruits and nuts should be eaten.

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