Summers are here and so is the heat. Your child is likely to suffer from heat illnesses such as heat strokes, dehydration, and the related injuries. Here we are giving you 11 tried and tested home remedies for treating heat injuries in children.
What are Heat Injuries?
Heat injuries are caused by very hot weather, high humidity, and other conditions that lead to your baby’s natural cooling system to fail. This lets the heat in in your kid’s body build to dangerous levels. This excessive heating up of your kids’ body can lead to heat illnesses such as heat cramps, fainting, heat stroke, exhaustion, among others.
Why are Children More Prone to Heat Injuries than Adults?
Kids are far more susceptible to heat injuries than adults due to a number of reasons. The reasons why kids are more vulnerable to heat injuries than adults include:
- Your kid’s body has far less sweat glands compared to an adult’s
- Children produce more heat per kg body weight than adults
- They sweat at a lower rate
- Children sweat at a much higher temperature than adults
- Kids take much longer than adults to acclimatize to changes in temperature. These include rise in temperature, humidity, etc
- Kids, in general, have a more blunted thirst response than adults. Often they are unable to understand whether or not they are thirsty As a result they may end up consuming much less fluids than required. This is especially dangerous when they are playing outdoor
What are The Ways in Which Heat Injuries Can Manifest in My Baby?
Heat injuries can manifest in your child in many different ways. Let’s have a look at some of the symptoms that you should look for in order to determine a possible heat injury.
1. Heat Cramps: This type of heat injury is caused by loss of large amounts of salt and water from your kid’s body during playtime. This results in muscle spasms. Your baby can also complain of cramping feeling in the abdomen, calves, and arms. Symptoms of heat cramps to look for include muscle cramps that are:
- Disappear on their own
2. Fainting: This is also caused by the loss of essential electrolytes from the body. Electrolytes are lost through the loss of fluids from your baby’s body. Your baby is likely to feel dizzy or light-headed. This can happen when he or she is sitting or standing. Other signs to look for include:
- Excessive Sweating
- Dry lips or tongue (signs of dehydration)
3. Heat Exhaustion: It is one of most common heat related injuries that can affect your child. Your baby is in the danger of suffering from heat exhaustion if her or she has spent prolonged amounts of time in the sun. Danger signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness while sitting down and standing
- High Body temperature (Anything between 100ºF – 103ºF)
- General feeling of weakness and discomfort
4. Heat Stroke: This is the most severe case of heat injury that can affect your child. Your baby can get a heat stroke if he or she is outdoors on a humid day for a prolonged period of time. In case of high humidity, sweat cannot cool the body the way it can in drier weather. For this reason you need to keep a close eye on your kids when they are playing outdoors on a particularly hot and humid day.
Heat stroke can be a potentially life threatening condition in very young kids. They can even end up in a coma when left untreated in time. Here are the warning signs to look for:
- Sudden drowsiness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sudden weakness and dizziness that makes him or her unable to stand or sit
- Talking incoherently
- Body temperature more than 104ºF
- Flushed, hot, and dry skin
In severe cases you may even notice:
- Loss of conciousness
- Difficulty in breathing
- Shallow breathing
- Rapid Pulse
What Home Remedies Can I Use to Treat My Child for Heat Injuries?
If your child is suffering from any of the above heat injuries, the first thing you need to do is to get him or her into the shade. Next loosen the clothes and allow fresh air to be available. Below we will look at the home remedies for treating the different types of heat injuries individually.
1. Heat Cramps
After taking your child into the shade and loosening hir or her clothes you should:
Give your child plenty of rehydrating fluids that contain the essential electrolytes that have been lost.
- You can make a quick and easy oral rehydration solution for your child at home. Mix one teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt with 500ml water.
- Once your child is feeling a bit better, try gentle stretching of the muscles
In this case make your child lie down in a cool and shady place. Make sure the room has plenty of fresh air. Provide oral rehydration and other liquids that can help make up the loss of electrolytes in the body.
Let your child rest for the rest of the day with limited activity and exposure to the sun. Encourage your baby to take frequent drinks of water and other fluids at regular intervals.
3. Heat exhaustion
Treatment of heat exhaustion in your child begins with the understanding of the symptoms and their severity. Try these following home remedies to help your child overcome heat exhaustion:
Provide cool and shaded environment
- Cool your baby’s body using fans and by loosing his or her clothes
- Remove any excess clothing
- Sponge your baby’s body with cool water to provide relief
- Give cool fluids including Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) – it can be homemade or store bought
In case your child doesn’t show any signs improvement or is unable to drink in the next hour – take him to the emergency room immediately. Getting proper and timely medical attention is of utmost improtance in treating heat injuries.
4. Heat Stroke
This is more severe than heat exhaustion and the treatment needs to be done properly to avoid complications.
Provide a cool and shaded enviroment for your child to rest
- Undress your child and sponge with cool water
- You can try applying onion juice to your child’s chest and behind the ears. This technique is mentioned in the ancient texts of Ayurveda and many people swear it is extremely effective.
- Provide cool and hydrating fluids such as tamarind drink with a pinch of sugar. Tamarind is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes that are potentially lost via dehydration
- Coconut water is yet another home remedy you can try to help hydrate your kid by naturally balancing the electrolytes in the body
- Add few drops of apple cider vinegar in your baby’s fruit juice or mix it with plain cool water and honey. This helps in replenishing the minerals and electrolytes that are lost.
- Mix some sandalwood powder and apply it on your baby’s forehead and chest. Its cooling properties will bring down his or her body temperature. Alternatively, massage some sandalwood oil on your kid’s forehead.
In case your baby’s condition doesn’t improve in the next one hour – rush him or her to the emergency room.
Important points to remember when treating your baby for heat stroke:
- Keep your child in the recovery position if he or she is unconscious
- Do not attempt to give any fluids to your child if he or she is very drowsy or unconscious
- Do not try to administer IV fluids on your own – the same can be given in the hospitalunder doctor’s supervision.
Most importantly keep calm and do not panic. It is important to keep your wits about you when dealing with a child with the sypmtoms of heat stroke.
How Can I Prevent my Baby From Getting Heat Stroke?
It doesn’t take much to bring on overheating, especially if your baby’s not used to the hot weather (in the beginning of summer, for example).
Dress your baby in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Try to keep him in the shade when you take him outside, and check to make sure that he’s staying cool during car rides. Give him more fluids than usual on hot days, and when the temperature is really severe, keep your baby indoors if you can.
If your home is hot and stuffy, and you don’t have air conditioning, seek comfort at a public library, the mall, or a community shelter provided especially for relief from the heat.