Changes in weather, especially with severe-weather winters, can lead to an increase in respiratory infections.
The population most affected by these infections is children, who are more likely to get sick and experience complications.
A recent report from the Colombian Ministry of Health explains that during this season, between 3% and 10% of children that are treated at urgent care facilities (for symptoms related to severe head colds, the common cold, sinusitis, earaches or sore throats) may need to be receive aggressive treatment and even be hospitalized for between three and five days.
Director of the Pediatrics Department at the Sabana University Clinic, Dr. Andrés Felipe Galindo explains that the causes of these complications can be bacterial infections in the ear, acute sinusitis, tonsillitis, or lower respiratory infections, all of which can lead to bronchiolitis or pneumonia. “Most respiratory illnesses are caused by viruses. Rhinoviruses are responsible for between 25% and 30% of these infections; adenoviruses are responsible for 30%, and between 35% and 50% of these infections are from viruses that haven’t been identified,” the specialist explains.
If symptoms related to respiratory infections arise, a report from the University of Sabana suggests taking the following steps to avoid complications:
– Have the child sit in a semi-upright position, at approximately between 30 – 45 degrees.
– Make sure the child drinks plenty of liquids. If the child is under 6 months old, breastfeed him or her 10 times a day.
– Prior to eating, clean their nasal passages with a saline and/or spray solution.
– Reduce their portion size, don’t serve them large meals.
– If the child has a fever, bathe the child in warm water for between 15 -20 minutes.
– Administer pain relievers according to medical recommendations.
While it is very difficult to prevent these diseases, here are some basic tips for reducing the risk of contracting them:
– Wash your hands before and after you touch the child.
– If a family member or childcare provider has the flu, have them use a mask, and avoid kissing and having direct contact with them.
– Keep the child away from cigarette smoke or any other type of smoke.