The school holidays are now over and if you went on holiday, it is probably a distant memory. If you are considering a holiday in the future, whether it’s at Christmas or next summer, why not start planning a holiday health checklist now, before your foreign trip comes around?
Some children suffer horribly on aeroplanes. The pressure of the cabin environment on the Eustachian tubes, which connect the ear canal to the throat, can cause severe pain. This is not particularly common, but if it happens it is absolutely terrifying for you and the child. Feeling mild discomfort is not uncommon however. Some children have even smaller diameter Eustachian tubes that others, just because it is the way they are made. The human body has not yet evolved to take account of travel at 30,000 feet. If your child is one of these cases you will know soon enough. It could also be more likely to occur if your child has had an ear infection or a blocked nose from a heavy cold.
One way of ensuring all children are comfortable when a flight takes off is to practice a couple of tricks that flight attendants recommend. Talk about the flight and, without of course mentioning even the possibility of problems, suggest you all practice for ‘when your ears pop’. Get them to hold their noses and try to blow down through their nose at the same time. This will build up pressure in the Eustachian tubes and make their ears pop. It’s a very handy technique to use when on board, and helps equalise the pressure within the inner ear. Yawning has the same effect. You can also promise them a boiled sweet upon take off and the approach to landing, since sucking and swallowing can also help equalise pressure. Flight attendants used to routinely distribute these before flights! No longer, so take your own.
Taking children on a cruise is a pleasure. There is so much for them to do and they can make friends easily whilst running around in the fresh air and sunshine. Seasickness should not be a problem. With cruise ships built as they are now, ship movement is very minimal. If you’re planning a trip on a ship you will hardly feel any roll at all. Should your little ones be susceptible to motion sickness then do act before it has a chance to take hold. Some children, and indeed adults, are particularly prone to it and, just as with headaches, it’s easier to stop in its tracks that try to reverse. At the first sign of travel sickness administer medication. It also helps if you allow the brain to process where it is going. This is why travel sickness often occurs in cars when children try to read whilst in motion. The brain is getting conflicting signals, one from the body and from the eyes. Looking forward in the direction of travel is a good way of helping to calm the neural messages charging around your child’s brain when sea or carsickness strikes. It’s miserable, so make sure you prepare for it, just in case.
Medication & Jabs
If you are travelling to a location that is prone to malaria outbreaks, you will have taken precautions for yourself, hopefully. But don’t forget to talk to your doctor about medication for your children. Even if you are breast-feeding and you are taking malaria medication this does not cover your baby. He or she will need to take a reduced dose. Your doctor will advise you here, but don’t be too concerned about medication. All the common malaria drugs (with the exception of doxycycline) are totally safe for children to take. It’s far more of a risk to health to contract malaria, so don’t take chances. Check with your doctor, or online about what vaccinations you may need.
Quick health tips
- Don’t forget to take anti-bacterial wet wipes, or hand gel for regular protection.
- Take plasters, antiseptic cream, anti-bite cream (Eurax is good), diarrhoea and seasickness medication, and a thermometer.
- Drink bottled water. Rinse pacifiers and teething rings in bottled water.
- If your child contracts a tummy bug when abroad, one doctor’s trick to rehydrate them when the worst if over is flat, non-diet coke and a packet of salted crisps. It’s the quickest way to get essential salt and sugar into a child, and it’s virtually impossible to get rehydration compounds such as Dioralyte abroad. Take your own by all means, but Coke and crisps will go down much better.
- Dehydration after diarrhoea or vomiting can be quite a problem for little bodies, so keep an eye on prolonged limpness and tiredness if your child has been repeatedly sick or had bouts of tummy upsets.
- Do take painkillers with you. If your child gets sunburn, anti-inflammatory analgesics like Neurophen can take the edge off the pain and help them to get to sleep. Bathe sunburn with cool water and let the child lie in front of an open window or fan to help ease their discomfort.
- Insect repellent. Don’t forget it. Mosquito bites can make a holiday really miserable.
- Jet Lag – kids get it too. Try to get into a routine, but be patient if they are unsettled for a couple of days. Grumpiness and tantrums could be tiredness.
- Finally, don’t forget the sunblock! Put lots of it on. More than you’d think, and top it up frequently. Kids hate it (who doesn’t?) But it’s nowhere near as unpleasant as the alternative.
How early do you plan for your next holiday?
Source: With thanks to Imogen Vernon for writing this article on behalf of ivegotkids.com