Monday, February 22, 2010

Keep Kids Healthy As Winter Gives Way to Spring

When days get longer and the weather begins to warm up, it's a sure sign that spring is around the corner. After months of cold temperatures and gray skies, just about everyone looks forward to spending time outdoors taking in the sights, sounds and scents of the season. But with temperatures rising and flowers, trees and grasses beginning to bloom, it's also time to protect kids from seasonal allergies and sun exposure. Here are some tips for keeping kids healthy all spring long.

* Look out for signs of seasonal allergies. Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is a common problem in both infants and children. Common symptoms include repeated sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose with clear drainage or congestion, itchy eyes and nose, throat clearing, sore throat, and/or a cough that tends to worsen at night and in the morning. Kids with seasonal allergies also tend to breathe through their mouth a lot and may have dark circles under their eyes.

* Limit kids' exposure to common allergens. While it's impossible to keeps kids clear of all outdoor allergens, there are some common-sense steps that can help minimize their impact, such as keeping kids indoors and closing windows in the early morning when the spring tree pollen count is highest, not hanging clothes outside to dry and bathing kids at bedtime to help minimize nighttime allergies.

* Protect skin from the damaging effects of spring sun. After being indoors for much of the winter, kids are eager to spend as much time outdoors as possible. To protect their skin during the spring months, break out the sunscreen and their favorite hats. When choosing a sunscreen for a baby, toddler or young child, look for a product that offers broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection with a minimum SPF of between 15 and 30. Also consider a product that is water resistant and one that is hypoallergenic and free of fragrance.

* Don't forget about eye protection. The lenses of children's eyes are extremely sensitive. Just as taking care of kids' skin can help prevent skin cancer in adulthood, eye protection can protect kids' eyes from developing certain conditions, like cataracts and macular degeneration, later in life. Everyone, including kids, should wear sunglasses year-round, but especially during spring and summer. Make sure to choose sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection. Hats with brims large enough to shade the eyes, while not as effective as sunglasses, also offer moderate protection from the sun.


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