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Posted by Kim Filler

You’ve been planning, saving, counting down the days to the long awaited family ski vacation and one thing’s for sure…..you don’t want to get sick. Air travel, higher elevations, intense sun, and those poor muscles that are about to be worked to the max, it’s no surprise many travellers succumb to illness.

Here to give advice on ways to avoid the most common problems visitors to Steamboat encounter is local personality and much respected Pediatrician Dr Steven Ross from Sleeping Bear Pediatrics, (Best of the Boat 2011).

1.Travelling to Steamboat either by air or car often causes ears to become blocked, and for little ones, they can be hard to clear. Are there tips on how to avoid that happening, and help adapt to the altitude?

The use of nasal saline drops aids the middle ear to properly balance the altitude pressures changes when your family climbs up to 35,000 feet and later descends to the ground. Careful hydration is helpful. Should a child have a cold, the use of Advil, saline nose drops, hot tea or soups, would be a big help. Although it is heartbreaking to acknowledge another help, often allowing an infant to have a good cry will compensate for sinus and middle ear inflammation and congestion that accompany a common cold.

2. What signs should parents look for if they suspect kids are getting altitude sickness?

Children and infants initially become irritable and tired when they experience high altitude sickness. Headaches grow in intensity. Often children are increasingly sensitive to loud noises and light. Altitude Sickness was described years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine editorial as a condition above 7500 feet in which our brains and lungs experience inflammation and swelling. One remedy often uses is to transport the child to a lower altitude (down the mountain). Providing frequent hydration of water, juices, or Pedialyte is helpful in preventing altitude sickness; in addition small frequent snacks of whole grain snacks and fruit are helpful.

3. Keeping blood sugar levels up is important for everyone out on the mountain. What do you recommend keeping on hand especially for little ones to snack on?

Complex carbohydrates such as whole grain crackers and chips will provide a steady blood sugar, while your child is burning up additional calories playing in a snowy environment. Again, frequent hydration is important.

4. After a fun day of skiing, snowshoeing, tubing or snowboarding, do you have advice for achy muscles and general soreness?

Massages, warm compresses, hot showers, and Ibuprofen products are helpful for aching legs and sore muscles.

5. What are some of the most common problems you have dealt with over past winters for visiting families?

Common problems for winter visitors which we see in our pediatric office are the common winter virus related illnesses seen throughout the United States and Europe. Colds, Influenza illnesses, and RSV are only a few of the dozens of winter illnesses. Getting an annual Influenza vaccine for children older than 6 months is recommended by the CDC and your own Children’s Hospital. Not only do we protect our child and our own family members, but also often vacationers bring a friend or two on a vacation holiday. We often see a large family gathering during our ski season, where one set of parents bring desperately ill and contagious children with influenza infections, which turns a ski vacation into a packed ski condo nightmare for a family. Washing hands is a must when traveling through a busy airport. See a pediatrician early if your child develops a serious cough.

6. Over the many years of treating visiting patients here in the Valley, what are typical reasons that could have avoided problems?

Forgetting to sleep enough and forgetting a ski helmet.

7. In one sentence what is a Dr Ross mantra for “your best chance at a fun day in the snow for a little one”

“Plenty of sleep, hydration, sunglasses, sun block, and mittens are the remedies for happy snow kittens” -unpublished verse by William Shakespeare.

8. Lastly…..what would be in your medical supplies packing list for a mom coming to town?

Advil, iPhone, sun block, and the phone number for Sleeping Bear Pediatrics 970 879 2327


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