Dr Mark Rosenthal

MD MB ChB FRCP FRCPCH BSc

Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

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Winter can be a tough time of year, especially when you have young children who are picking up all the coughs and colds going around at school or nursery. Although it’s impossible to defeat viral infections completely there are some steps you can take to ensure that your family has the best chances of staying well this winter.

Winter Wellness for ChildrenBeating the Cold

Keeping warm is an essential part of winter wellness. Although the cold can’t cause an infection it can make children more vulnerable to falling ill. Breathing in cold air can also exacerbate the effect of viral infections and conditions such as asthma.

  • Dress your children in layers so you can adjust when you move indoors and outdoors
  • Remember that younger children and babies need more layers as they’re less able to regulate their own temperatures
  • Older children can wear a scarf over their nose and mouth so that they’re breathing in warmer air, which can help to prevent asthma attacks in winter
  • Keeping dry is essential too, so make sure your child has wellies and a waterproof outer layer
  • Avoid going out or spending too much times outside when it gets very cold or if our child is feeling unwell

Stopping the Spread of Viral Infections

Coughs and colds spread much more easily in winter. We spend more time in enclosed spaces where coughs and sneezes can carry germs between us. The cooler temperatures also enable germs to survive outside the body for longer, so we’re more likely to pick them up from the environment.

  • Get the seasonal flu vaccine to prevent the main strains of flu this winter
  • Keep children at home if they’re unwell
  • Try to avoid spending time with people who are ill, especially if you have a young baby or your child has any medical conditions that make them more vulnerable
  • Teach children to catch coughs and sneezes in tissues and to wipe their noses
  • Make sure everyone in the family washes theirs hands regularly
  • Clean toys and surfaces, especially if someone in the house is ill

Looking after your family’s general health can also help to prevent colds or to limit their effects if your child does fall ill. A nutritious diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise and good sleeping habits can all help your child to stay well.

Managing Health Conditions in Winter

Keeping your child well in winter can be harder if they have a condition such as asthma that makes them more vulnerable to colds and other viral infections. You should be particularly careful to keep your child warm and to do what you can to prevent them from catching infections. It is also important to continue with any treatment that your doctor has recommended, such as using a preventer inhaler for asthma. If you notice any changes in your child’s condition then you should make an appointment to discuss it. Sometimes it is necessary to change the dosage of your child’s medication or to adjust their treatment in response to seasonal changes.

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