Summer health concerns for kids  

Summer health concerns for kids

Author: Dr. Dan Slubowski, emergency medicine physician at IU Health North Hospital

The summer months are a great time for kids to play outside. However, before participating in these activities, it is important to know potentially dangerous situations so you can avoid them. Here are some common child health concerns and tips for this summer.  health


Asthma is a condition in which the airways become narrowed, causing people to cough, wheeze and have difficulty breathing. Asthma is particularly relevant in the summer months because kids are typically more active which can cause asthma flare ups. Common asthma irritants or triggers include cigarette smoke, pollen, dust, chemical fumes and even pet dander. After your child encounters these triggers, they may start coughing and have trouble stopping. Asthma symptoms include experiencing shortness of breath, chest tightness, difficulties taking a deep breath, and whistling or squeaking when you breathe, commonly called wheezing. If your child experiences one or more of these symptoms, let their physicians know.

Heat-Related Illness 

Three common heat related illnesses are sunburn, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heat exhaustion is the body responding to losing an excessive amount of water and salt. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, heavy sweating, elevated body temperature and decreased urine output. If you think a child is experiencing heat exhaustion, call 911, take off excess clothes, have them slowly drink water and give your child a cold compress on their head, face and neck.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Signs of heat stroke include confusion, slurred speech, dry skin or profuse sweating, seizures or very high body temperature. You can help by calling 911 immediately, getting your child cold by putting them in a cold bath or moving your child to a cool area.  Finally, leaving children alone in the car during summer months is extremely dangerous. When left alone in the car for even a short period of time, children are at risk for injury, dehydration, or even death.

healthWater Safety

Before getting into a pool this summer make sure your child knows how to swim or at very least tread water. They should swim with adult supervision. More children ages one to four die of drowning than any other cause of death, according to the CDC. Make sure your child is wearing some kind of flotation device when they are swimming as well.

If you run into an emergency situation with your child this summer, you can take them to the nearest emergency department. For non-emergent situations, contact their primary care provider.

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