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- Christoph Hoffmann
Cold and Co.
Diseases in kindergarten: Red nose is a curse and a blessing
The cold wave hits families with small children particularly violently. But in Gießen’s kindergartens there are other diseases. An expert assessment.
The child’s nose doesn’t stop running, the cough doesn’t subside: Will it go on like this all winter?
Not to be excluded, as the pediatrician Dr. Christoffer Krug from Gießen explains: “Studies show that up to twelve infections of the upper respiratory tract, which can also be accompanied by short episodes of fever, are quite normal for small children per year”. If one takes into account the summer months with the lower incidence of infection, it is possible to get a cold every two to three weeks in winter. In particular, an accumulation of infections is associated with the start in the day care centre.
Does this change with the aging of the children?
Yes. The “permanent cold nose” lamented by the parents is becoming rarer, says Krug. “In schoolchildren, colds no longer occur so frequently.”
Do flu infections also have a good side?
Absolutely. “Every cold is a training for the immune system,” says Krug. The body’s own defence processes are activated by the immune system’s confrontation with the pathogens. The immune system “remembers” the viruses. “As a result, the child actually becomes ill less often.
Can my child sleep with the window open with a cold? And how thick should I pack it?
Strong draughts and excessively low temperatures should be avoided, says Krug, but a tilted window is perfectly fine. “Dry, heated air in the room also irritates cold mucous membranes, so a little fresh air can’t do any harm.” The same applies to the question of clothing: the child should not freeze, but should not sweat either, as the cold could then become stronger due to draughts. Krug advice: Dress the child normally.
When is the risk of contagion greatest. How long does the cold last?
Colds are most contagious from the second day after the onset of symptoms. Then the infectivity slowly diminishes. “Colds and symptoms last between seven and ten days.
How contagious are childhood diseases for adults?
That’s different. Colds or diarrhoeal diseases often also affect the parents. “One of the reasons for this is that parents have not had contact with child germs for a long time,” says Krug. However, there are also diseases against which adults are already immunised.
Do kindergartens send children with a cold home immediately?
No. Otherwise the kindergartens would be almost orphaned in the winter months. Usually the parents are only called when the children are sick and/or have a fever. This is how it is handled in the St. Vincent Family Centre, for example, as director Patricia Karkos says.
When should I leave my child at home?
Fever. And when the children are really tired. “They should also be fever-free for 24 hours before they come back,” says Patricia Karkos, head of St. Vincent. Krug adds: “Despite their runny nose, children usually enjoy playing with a cold and are full of beans. If there is no fever, they should also spend time outdoors again and again to get nasal secretions to drain through exercise and fresh air and to let the mucous membranes swell off.”
And when does the offspring belong to the doctor?
Fever that lasts longer than three days, when the child does not want to drink or when the general condition rapidly deteriorates. Skin rash should also be clarified, says Krug. The same applies if the child complains of pain.
In many day-care centers the hand foot mouth disease circulates. That sounds bad.
But if it is not, Krug says: “This is a viral infection that usually occurs in small epidemics.” Children would initially have a fever of one to two days before small blisters formed. “This is difficult for laypersons to interpret, it can also be confused with chickenpox or herpes,” says Krug. He recommends going to the paediatrician. In itself, the disease is harmless, one only has to sit it out. Parents rarely get infected, as they were usually immunised during childhood, says the paediatrician. What if it does affect the parents? Krug reassures: “It’s harmless even with adults.”
Are parents allowed to stay at home if the child is ill?
There is no uniform regulation. The law says that employees may be absent for up to five days in emergency situations with continuous salary payment – this includes the care of a sick child. Some employment contracts exclude the paragraph. If parents and children are covered by statutory health insurance, parents can take up to ten days off per child per year. Single parents 20 days per child.