UAE: School-going children frequently falling sick due to sudden weather changes, say doctors

Paediatricians say temperature fluctuations, increased humidity and decreased immune response make kids more vulnerable

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Nandini Sircar

Published: Fri 24 Feb 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 24 Feb 2023, 4:23 PM

Paediatricians in the UAE are witnessing a surge in patient footfall at clinics as the number of school-going children falling sick has increased. Educational institutions also advise parents to keep unwell children home and suggest they return to school only after full recovery.

Meanwhile, medics said the change in the weather, increasing humidity and frequent temperature fluctuations are causing children to fall sick repeatedly as different viruses thrive under the changing conditions.

Dr Rim Al Choughri, Specialist Paediatrics, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, says, "Children are falling sick mainly because of the sudden change in weather. The transition from cold conditions to hot weather can trigger viral infections. As we kept to our homes for the last two years and adhered to other Covid-19 restrictions, immunity has become low. The Covid protocols prevented children from having contact with anything around them. When children are exposed to germs, it sometimes stimulates the immune system. This has a similar effect to a vaccine. Germs in the environment also become active due to weather changes. This is why we are facing a lot of cases of infection right now.”

Reiterating similar thoughts, other healthcare professionals also underline that cold and damp weather conditions not only increase the survival chances of different viruses but also hamper the normal immune mechanisms of the body, especially the mucosal barrier of the respiratory tract.

“Currently, rhinovirus, influenza and the respiratory syncytial viruses are on the surge causing an increase in the number of children falling sick,” says Dr Swathi Eluri, Specialist Pediatrician, Aster Clinic Abu Hail.

She added, “The change in climate, the decreased immunity in the children compared to adults, their proximity (to other kids) in the schools and poor ventilation is also making them more vulnerable."

Doctors highlight symptoms range from common cold, sore throat, headache, myalgia and fever to gastrointestinal disturbances like vomiting and loose stools.

“In severe cases it may lead to bronchitis and pneumonia. Symptoms are present for a week and even longer for children with previously known allergies,” adds Eluri.

Dr Jobby Jacob, Specialist Paediatrician, Medeor Hospital, Dubai, opines, “If a child is suffering from fever, vomiting/diarrhoea, pink eyes, persistent cough, rashes on hands/foot and mouth, it is a good idea to keep them at home as it will help them recover faster and prevent the spread of infection to other kids.

"It would be prudent to return to school after 24 hours of symptom-free period in case of fever, vomiting, or diarrhoea. In case of rashes/pink eye, it is better to wait for the symptoms to resolve or heal completely.”

Dr Kedar Patnekar, Specialist Paediatrician and Branch Manager with Prime Medical centre Burjuman Branch, says, “I would recommend all parents to get their children vaccinated for flu. It’s very important, especially in this season. Also, I would advise parents to not believe in any rumours about flu vaccination.

"As long as it is taken when the child is asymptomatic it will protect them from getting recurrent infections. Parents should visit the doctor as soon as the symptoms start and not wait till the symptoms aggravate.”

“Vitamin C rich fruits should be included in the diet to help children build up their immunity and reduce their chances of frequent infections. Importantly, parents should not self-medicate their children as this can be dangerous,” adds Patnekar.


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