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Summer Bummers: Health Problems Your Child Could Face

Summertime could spell trouble for your child's health if you don't take precautions against three common problems--sunburn, dehydration, and swimmer's ear.

Miriam Arond, editor in chief of Child magazine, shared some tips with the Early Show about how to reduce your child's risk.


The sun is an old enemy that's still going strong. It is important to take the correct precautions before going out in the sun. Skin cancer is much more avoidable if you avoid bad sunburns at an early age, so children have much to gain from sunburn prevention.

Children should apply sunscreen one-half hour before going outdoors. It should be at least SPF 15, be protective of both UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays, and should be reapplied every 2 hours. It is also a good idea for kids to wear hats, cover-ups, and sunglasses to avoid the telltale pink skin warning sign of sunburn.

It is best to avoid the sun at its strongest time between the hours of 11AM and 3 PM. Children suffering form sunburn can take a cool bath, apply aloe vera or other moisturizing creams, and anesthetic creams or sprays can be used to relieve pain. A bad sunburn should not be taken lightly. It can lead to heat exhaustion and other heat-related problems.


Dehydration is another health risk that can sneak up on you in the summertime. Children are often unaware that they are dehydrated, so parents should take care to make sure they get enough water. Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, flushed cheeks, stomach cramps, irritability, and exhaustion.

It can easily be avoided by regularly drinking liquids. Don't drink soft drinks that contain caffeine, as that has a dehydrating effect. A good rule-of-thumb formula for water intake for kids is that toddlers need 3 ounces of water for every hour outdoors. Older children need 4 to 6 ounces every hour. Foods that are high in water content are also good, like tomatoes, melons, plums, grapefruit, and peaches.

Swimmer's Ear

Swimmer's ear is very common among young children. It's a noncontagious infection that occurs when water is trapped in the ear canal. Symptoms include itching, swelling, and a decrease in the ability to hear. In some instances you might see fluid draining from the ear.

It differs from the other type of ear infection in that it occurs in the outer ear. The other common childhood ear infection is behind the eardrum in the inner ear. Preventive measures include wearing earplugs or a swimming cap and drying the ears thoroughly after swimming so no water builds up. Your doctor can treat swimmer's ear and help distinguish it from a more serious infection. He or she will most likely prescribe antibiotic eardrops, acetaminophen, or a hot water bottle for pain.
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