A father-son duo swear by woollens at Potala Market in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
The maverick weather has added to responsibilities of mothers.
Doctors say a plethora of precautions alone can arrest the steady stream of sneezing, coughing and feverish children to clinics in this dubious December of 2013 when the manic mercury is climbing up and down the Celsius ladder all too frequently.
Since December 1, both Ranchi and Jamshedpur have witnessed a yawning gap between its maximum and minimum readings. While the day temperatures in the twin cities have optimally stayed between 24°C and 27°C, nights have been much cooler between 7°C and 12°C.
This Celsius chasm, says Dr Arun Kumar, the head of paediatrics at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in the capital, triggers the garden variety of winter illnesses — the most common among them being the viral flu, respiratory infections, streptococcal pharyngitis (sore throat) and viral gastroenteritis.
“The climate change is taking a toll on the health of children who have an underdeveloped immunity system compared to adults,” Dr Kumar said.
The RIMS register shows a daily turnout of 50 young viral victims since December 2.
“Infections and fever are common before the winter sets in thoroughly. The number of children taking to bed will keep increasing till the temperatures become steady. The most ideal word during this time is precaution,” he warned.
The paediatrician prescribed evening cover for children.
“Do not let children out without sweaters after sundown. Cold desserts are better avoided frequently and especially at night. School-going children must cover their ears. The early morning chill and fog can play havoc with health,” he said.
Instead of going the medicine way, mothers have also been advised to use ginger and garlic liberally when they cook. These are natural cold-busters and raises the body temperature.
Jamshedpur homemaker Lalita Padia said her son, who studies in Class VI at Narbheram Hansraj English School, was suffering from tonsillitis and has had to skip classes.
Senior paediatrician in Jamshedpur Unmesh Luktuke explained viral diarrhoea, tonsillitis, bronchitis and respiratory infections were common among children in the city. “Stay away from pani puris and other street food to avoid gastric influenza,” he warned.
While children who have learnt to speak can express their unease, those below two years are more vulnerable, says Dr Sanoj Kumar, another paediatrician at RIMS.
“Utmost care must be taken to maintain the isothermal temperature in infants and children below two. Infants should not be bathed. Sponging with lukewarm water is the best option. The scalp can be cleaned with a towel soaked in warm water too, but not before the body is dried and covered,” he said.
Babies suffering from nasal block needed additional care, which includes serving them warm food. The doctors also recommended breastfeeding to keep seasonal diseases at bay.
Besides children, adults too may be prone to common cold, influenza, respiratory problems, dehydration and itchy skin. “The easiest way to stay safe is covering up, eating loads of fruits and vegetables that are good source of Vitamin C and keeping the skin moisturised,” advised Dr Suhas, a general physician in Ranchi.