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I am sure having to grow up in Malaysia, your parents or family members would have told you not to play in the rain because playing in the rain will make you fall sick. To be honest, I have been told the same thing too, despite what I have studied and all, this belief is still stuck deep within me. I find it rather hard to shake it off either.
I am no myth-buster but what I can provide you is the cold hard facts. Take a moment and think about it. Does the question itself even make any sense to you? Let’s take a look at it this way. What actually causes your child to be sick? It has to be some form of bug, be it viruses or bacteria that are partying happily within your child’s body. So how can rain, or make it simpler, water makes your child sick? Will you get sick if I were to take a cup of water and splash it on you? That’s a definite no. Unless you are swept away by a typhoon, the rain will not make you or your child sick.
Rain does not make your child sick.
Okay, I am sure you are going to ask this: Why does my child get sick each time he gets caught in the rain? Some children do have a weaker immune system compared to others. Their immune system is generally affected by a whole lot of other factors too.
Let’s touch a little on how does your child actually get a weaker immune system first. Some of the common ones include:
Not in a happy state.
Going to bed late.
Eating unhealthily such as junk food.
Staying indoors most of the time with no physical activity.
As compared to adults, a growing child builds his immune system as he grows older. Hence, there is also a tendency of falling ill more frequently when he is at a younger age.
Patience, my friend. Like I said, rain itself does not make your child sick. It may be related but that does not make your child sick directly.
However, rain induces a state called hypothermia.
Hypo-what? Let me make it simpler. Hypo means low. Thermia means temperature.
Rain lowers your child's body temperature
Here’s the thing. When your child’s body temperature lowers, his police cells which are meant to keep viruses and bacteria away from his body get shut down. Just imagine your house that has been armed with security cameras, alarms, electric fences, etc. which are supposed to keep you safe have their electricity cut off? Burglars and thieves will come in and out as they please. Apply the same scenario to the immune system. The body is the house. The security for the house is the police cells that patrol within the body. If they are no longer working as intended, viruses or bacteria come and go as they please.
Infection may occur when body temperature is low
Rain temporarily weakens an immune system. It gets even weaker if the immune system has not been well-taken care of. So if someone is to sneeze at your child, or has some form of flu-like symptoms when his body temperature is lowered, there is a high chance that your child may fall sick. If your child keeps himself healthy by taking in healthy food and exercise, he will fare better than other children who was a weaker immune system.
Henceforth, understand this. Rain does not make your child sick, it weakens the body, making it vulnerable to viruses and bacteria, especially the common cold, or what we like to call flu.
Do you know the real reason why your child has a runny nose after being in the rain? This condition is related to a mixture of biology and physics. When it rains, the temperature is cooler than normal. Your nose is meant to humidify the air that enters your lungs. Try opening up the freezer compartment of your fridge and take in a deep breath. It feels a little uncomfortable in the beginning right? As time passes, your nose gets adjusted to it and adds moisture to the dry air to make it lung-friendly.
Having a runny nose does not make your child sick
In cold weather conditions during rainy days, the nose produces a little too much moisture that it leaks out. Therefore, you will experience some runny nose.
As for physics wise, what happens if you blow a breath of hot air onto a cold mirror? It fogs it up, creating little droplets of water. This process is called condensation, or “kondensasi”. I am pretty sure you have learned it during Form 3, 4 and 5. As we exhale hot air out through our nose in a cold environment, it creates water droplets at the outlet. Yes, your nostrils. Water droplets tend to accumulate around the nostrils and it makes a runny nose even runnier. So yes, your child may experience a runny nose after being in the rain but that does not mean your child is sick!
If you have been reading what I have been saying so far, I believe you have the answer right there. Getting wet in the rain is OKAY. What is not alright is prolonging the hypothermia state. In order not to get sick after that, make sure you dry your child up. A warm shower would be great to get his body all warm and fuzzy again. Being Malaysians, we love our air conditioners. However, that doesn’t mean you should let your child dry himself up in a cold environment. You do not want his body temperature to go any lower than it already has. Also, try to avoid meeting up with other children who are sick, especially in closed-up areas. It will multiply the risk of your child getting sick altogether. Remember the list of things that can weaken your child’s immune system earlier? Fix that. Sleep early. Eat well. And stay active.
Getting wet in the rain will not make your child sick.
Strengthen your child’s immunity by eating and sleeping well. Exercise too!
Dry your child as soon as he is out of the rain.
A runny nose in a cold environment is a normal physiological response.
Go now, and let your child enjoy the rain..
In collaboration with Ethissa.
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