Abdominal Pain in Children Tummy aches are one of the most frequently complained about problems in children. There are many causes attributed with it, and it is a challenge for the parent or the physician to find out the exact problem. Sometimes the pain requires immediate attention and can also be a case of emergency. The causes can be related to food, infections, poisoning, insect bites, etc. Bacteria and viruses are responsible in case of abdominal pain due to infections. Gastroenteritis and stomach flu are some of the examples of infections that can cause stomach aches. Gastroenteritis is the inflammation and irritation of stomach and the gastrointestinal passage. Extra care must be taken by travelers, as the food and drinks can be contaminated at new locations and can lead to traveler’s getting diarrhea. Stomach pain due to viral infections ward off quickly, but bacterial infections demand the intake of antibiotics. In both the cases, some children recover very fast by vomiting and excreting. In case of diarrhea, excess drinking fluids should be given to the kid to avoid dehydration. Food related stomach aches can be caused because of food poisoning, gas production, excess food ingestion and food allergies. Problems because of food poisoning are temporary and can cause bloating. Symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea. Usually these symptoms surface within two days of consumption of contaminated food. Depending on the severity chill, fever, bloody stools, or damage to the nervous system can follow. In case of a group of people who consumed the contaminated food, this situation is known as an outbreak. Over two hundred diseases are known to be transmitted via food. Food can be poisoned because of toxic agents or infective agents. Infective agents are parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Toxic agents are uncooked food, exotic foods, and poisonous mushrooms. Food can get contaminated because of handling by unclean workers at the local restaurant, too. Parents should check out the cleanliness and should visit a trusted restaurant. Particular foods can cause the irritation, such as diary products can cause lactose intolerance. If this is the case, the child is allergic to certain food or drinks and swallowing even a small amount can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, and skin rash. Since these items are harmless otherwise, such kind of allergic reactions are known as hypersensitivity reaction. Sometimes the symptoms can be life threatening and are known as anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis. Poisoning can also be due to overdose of medicines and even due to eating non-food stuffs. Insect bites such as black widow spider bite can also lead to pain in the abdomen. It can be accompanied with muscle cramps, weakness, nausea, tremor, vomiting and in severe case it can cause dizziness, faintness, respiratory problems, and chest pain. Also, the heart rate and blood pressure increases. In very rare cases, abdominal pain can be due to appendicitis. This is a result of blockage and inflammation of tissues. Young kids have a higher rate if complications are considered and should be immediately rushed to the hospital. The pain starts slowly in the abdomen, specifically near the belly button. The pain shifts slowly to the right side of the lower abdomen within a time period of over twenty four hours. Clear symptoms are abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, fever and loss of appetite. Diabetes can also be a reason of abdominal pain. Small children usually curl up, cry and express pain through facial expression. Some kids will be reluctant to talk, but the parent should try to get clear explanation of the problem. Along with close monitoring of the symptoms, studying the location of pain, pain duration, nature of vomiting, and urinary problems will help. After that a pediatric should be consulted who can further refer to a gastroenterologist. Until help is reached, the child should be made to relax. Often, lying with face in downward direction can relieve pain due to gas. Incase of vomiting and diarrhea, fluids should be given constantly. Solid food should only be given when the child is comfortable about eating it. Abrasions, Cuts and Scratches Sometimes abrasions, cuts and scratches result in dire consequences if they aren’t taken care of at the right time. Children run around the house and drop vases and other glass material, which can result in scratches or cuts. Outdoor activities should be supervised carefully, otherwise abrasions caused by a wall or a rock is unavoidable. There are slight differences among the three and most of the time children get them while playing. Cuts are caused by sharp objects, which can penetrate into the skin or damage the skin on the surface. Scratches are mild form of cuts. They are also caused by sharp objects such as a piece of glass, thorn or a knife. Even fingernails can cause a scar. Abrasion is caused by friction or rubbing of the skin with a rough surface. Rug burns and board burns are also examples of abrasion, because they are caused by friction. Also, in all three cases, the wound can bleed. It bleeds when the tiny blood vessels located underneath the skin gets ruptured. Platelets form clot to stop the bleeding and a scab can also form, which should be pulled out as that will interfere with the healing process of the body. If the bleeding isn’t stopping, the wound should be covered with a soft cloth. After that the wound should be cleaned using lukewarm water and mild soap. Antibacterial ointment should be used to clean the wound and it should be covered with a bandage. The antibacterial ointment helps kill germs. The bandage will prevent bacteria from getting within and prevent the wound from getting bothersome. But the bandage should be changed everyday and the wound should be kept dry. The good thing is that abrasion, cuts and scratches don’t require any special attention in most cases. But if the scratch is made by animal claws or abrasion is caused by a rusty metallic surface, a doctor should be approached immediately, because the animal could have rabies and the rust can cause septic. Depending on the situation, the doctor would prescribe antibiotics, lotion or even shots. It is also a good idea that parents make sure that their kid is given tetanus shot on a regular basis. Sometimes, the wound won’t be caused in dangerous circumstances, but because of negligence, the wound will get infected by bacteria. If it the wound is infected, it will show symptoms such as redness, swollen skin, and production of puss which can be of the color yellow or either green. Cuts can sometimes be too deep and even long. In such cases, stitches should be certainly opted for. It is a very simple procedure. The area of the wound is made numb using some kind of anesthesia. It can either be injected or simply applied directly. Then the doctor will sew the cut edges together using certain needle and thread. If the cut isn’t big enough, the cut is sealed using a special kind of glue, instead of the stitches. The glue will hold the edges together so that the skin underneath will heal and over a period of time, the glue will dissolve. Kids need to check with the doctor every week, so that the doctor will be able to analyze the improvement. And when the wound is completely healed, the stitches are cut open using scissors and then the threads are pulled off gently. In majority of the cases, the wound doesn’t leave behind a scar. This totally depends on the method and effectiveness of the treatment. Appendicitis in Kids Many children have their appendix removed even before turning the age of fourteen. And the risk starts to peak as they age. Majority of children who get an abdominal surgery is because of appendicitis. Appendicitis is actually appendix inflammation and as a result, a fingerlike tube grows on the lower right part of large intestine. Appendix is located at the closed end of the larger intestine, known as the cecum, and measures up to many inches. Although, doctors say that the appendix isn’t of much help to the body, but appendix’s inner wall releases antibodies, which are produced by the lymphatic tissues. Appendicitis can be detected by the onset of pain in the middle portion of the abdomen, the portion above the belly button. After a few hours the area will swell and there will be intense pain when touching the abdomen’s right side. The patient will begin to vomit and will have nausea. There will low fever and there will be problems will gas and stool passage. Some people, after the onset of these symptoms, will take laxatives or enemas mistaking appendicitis for constipation. But this is extremely dangerous, as these medicines will in turn increase the risk of the appendix bursting. So it is recommended to consult the doctor before going for any kind of medication, even any pain relievers. Besides increasing the risk, they even mask the symptoms and makes diagnosis even more hard. If the child’s symptoms are very much similar to that of the appendicitis’ symptoms, he should be immediately taken to the doctor for further diagnosis. The doctor will first study the child’s digestive illnesses’ history. He should also be divulged information about the symptoms, timing, bowel movements and its frequency. The stool should also be checked for mucus or blood. Children, who can communicate, can be asked to point out the location of pain in the abdomen. Toddlers who haven’t started talking or who hesitate to do talk will raise their knees close to the chest, hips will be flexed and the abdomen becomes tender. Although, the actual cause of this abnormal growth of the appendix is not known, but it can result because of some kind of obstruction or infection in the intestines. The obstruction can be created due to thick mucus build-up inside the appendix. Some part of the stool can also enter inside. There will be mucus formation and the stool will harden within resulting in the swelling up of the appendix. If it is an infection, it should be treated immediately, as it can burst and there is a danger of the infection spreading to other parts of the body via bloodstream. That is the reason why even blood test is done, so as to determine whether the infection has spread or not. The urine test is done to check for problems in the urinary tract. The problem is then confirmed with the help of computed tomography or an ultrasound. Sometimes children with pneumonia have the similar symptoms, so to make matters clear even X-ray of the chest is done. Medical attention must be sought within forty eight hours of the start of the abdominal pain. Sometimes, abdomen develops mild inflammation, many weeks before the diagnosis is done. After the diagnosis is done and appendicitis is determined, appendectomy is performed on the patient. The doctor will immediately order the intake of antibiotics before the surgery is performed. In case of confined appendicitis, it can be treated solely by antibiotics and no surgery is required. This is because the inflammation is very mild and the body itself fights with the infection. But, still as a precautionary measure, such kinds of patients must be kept in observation until their condition becomes stabilized. If the appendix ruptured then appendicle perforation is done. In this procedure, a drain is inserted inside the skin, through the abscess with the help of CT scan or ultrasound which gives the exact location. Some people develop complications later such as wound infection and accumulation of puss inside the appendix. Chicken Pox in Children A typical childhood disease in children chicken pox is very notorious for being contagious. A kid infected with chickenpox virus will develop numerous itchy blisters which are filled with fluid. These blisters burst later, which lead to crusts formation. Children get approximately five hundred such blisters which grow over a red skin spot. They show up on the face first and then spread to the trunk, scalp and the rest of the body. After a day of appearance, the fluid filled blisters become cloudy and later on, scabby. The itchiness caused due to chicken pox is really intense and irritating. And the crust, if not treated, can leave marks for life. Within forty eight hours of getting infected, the symptoms begin to surface. It is only after ten to twenty days after contamination, that the pox appears. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, headache, loss of appetite and finally the pox rash. The condition can be confirmed by testing the pox blisters and by even taking blood test. The medical history of the child can be helpful in determining the severity of the condition. The virus blameworthy for infecting a person with chicken pox is varicella-zoster or simply, varicella. The virus spreads through airborne transmission, droplet transmission and direct contact. Not only the infected carry these viruses and should be avoided, also people or kids who have taken the vaccination recently should also be avoided. Since the invention of chicken pox vaccine, there has been a decline in the chicken pox cases. Children who are under the age of ten should be highly prepared as they are more prone to getting infected by this virus. But on the contrary, when older children or adults catch chicken pox, they become sicker when compared to young kids. A child or a person who has been infected by chicken pox virus becomes host to the virus for lifetime. But the number is kept under control by the body’s immune system. Infants, sometimes, get partial immunity from the blood of their mother, if the mother was already infected by chicken pox. Kids of mothers, who haven’t been infected by chicken pox, tend to get severe chickenpox. Children who have been administered with chicken pox vaccination get mild chicken pox. Skin condition of children with skin problems like eczema or sunburn can worsen. Such kids can be getting above one thousand and five hundred poxes. Children who have taken steroids can also face bad situation. Along with the application of the prescribed lotion and intake of oral medication containing antihistamine, the itchiness can be eased by bathing the child in lukewarm water and oatmeal. The antiviral medications should be started within the first day itself. Other people living in the same household as of the patient should also take antiviral medicines recommended by a doctor. It is a must for everyone to take chicken pox vaccination as a part of immunization routine schedule. There is a hundred percent chance of not developing moderate to severe chickenpox and nearly ninety percent chance of not developing mild chicken pox. Chicken pox vaccine is the only vaccine which doesn’t demand a booster. But a higher dose can be given to adolescents so as to avoid shingles or herpes zoster. But a doctor should be consulted before opting for the higher dose. Common Cold in Children Common Cold is caused because of upper respiratory system infection due to cold virus. This infection affects parts such as ears, nose and throat. There are about two hundred known viruses which are responsible for common cold, out of which rhinovirus is the most common. Because of this great number of viruses, there isn’t any shot or vaccination available which helps in preventing cold. The best solution to the cold is human body immune system. Majority of a child’s visit to the doctor will be because of cold. According to an estimate, a child catches cold nearly eight times in a year and each time it last up to a week or so. Cold viruses usually spread by sneeze or cough from the infected person. The wet and slimy substance inside the nose, called mucus, is the carrier of the virus. When a person cough or sneeze, the mucus drops come out of the mouth and when other persons breaths in these droplets they catch cold. Cold can also spread by handling of contaminated stuffs like towel, door knobs, school desk, etc. If a person touches a contaminated towel and then touches his nose or eyes, there is a great chance of getting an infection. Therefore, it is a good habit to wash the hands regularly and keep them germ-free. The cold viruses have docking points which helps it to stick to the interior of the nose. It then controls the nose’s cell lining and begins to multiply into more viruses. White cells are responsible to fight these viruses inside the nose. They even kill them and finally get victory after seven days. Sneeze and runny nose actually prevent the viruses to affect the rest of the body parts. A person sneezes when the nerves inside the nose detect irritation and take the help of the lungs to push them out by letting out a blast of air through the mouth and the nose. The air, while sneezing, comes out at the speed of hundred miles per hour faster than cars on the road. Once the child contracts cold viruses, they take two to three days to develop and show symptoms. There are many symptoms of cold. The child becomes cranky. He will complain of headache, blocked nose, cough, sneeze, sore throat, muscle ache, nasal cavity congestion and will become exhausted. Low fever can also accompany, along with body chills. Medicines do not speed up the process of healing as the viruses complete their cycle irrespective of the intake. But they do suppress further growth and make the child feel better. Children shouldn’t take any medicines on their own, thinking that it’s just a cold. Parents should supervise the dosage and medicine being taken. And in turn, the parents should follow a doctor’s prescription. Decongestants help to decrease the wise of the swollen nose lining, which makes breathing easier. Antihistamines help to dry the mucus and stops sneezes and runny noses. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be given if the child is experiencing headache and muscle ache. At home, parents should give hot food and drink to the child as they help to soothe soar throats and coughs. The heat also clears up the mucus. Chicken soup is an age old remedy for common cold. Steamy showers are another good option as they help with stuffy nose. Itchy eyes, scratchy throat and stuffy throats can also be treated with humidifiers which spray cool and fine mist. They also loosen the mucus. The nose should be blown regularly to let the mucus out of the body. It is a good idea to use disposable tissues instead of regular handkerchiefs. Complete bed rest for a day or two is greatly suggested. The best precaution that can be taken is eating healthy food and balanced diet so as to strengthen the immune system. The child must exercise regularly in order to stay fir and sleep adequately. Children who are stressed out more frequently are more prone to have cold. Therefore, it is good if the kid takes extra rest and goes to bed early on some days. And when the child is suffering from cold, he should relax and take bed rest as much as possible. Conjunctivitis or Pinkeye in Children Conjunctivitis or pinkeye is a common problem in school going kids. The eyes become red, itchy, and swollen. There can also be a discharge of gooey liquid from the eye which can be of the color white, clear, green or yellow. Conjunctivitis is also known as pinkeye because the eye’s white part turns pink or red. When the child experiences itchiness and redness in the eyes, he/she should inform the elders as soon as possible, as pinkeye is very contagious and spreads very easily. It is possible that only one eye can get affected by conjunctivitis, while the other eye dose not. In usual cases, both the eyes get infected. Conjunctivitis doesn’t hurt usually, but the eyes sure do itch badly. There can be a sensation similar to an eyelash or tiny particle getting in the eye, which can be very annoying. The infection lasts for about a week and usually goes away by itself. But if the itching is very troublesome, it should be treated with medicine. Some children can have conjunctivitis accompanied with ear infections, as the bacteria responsible for causing pinkeye is also responsible for causing ear infection. Conjunctivitis is caused by virus or bacteria. Viruses which cause conjunctivitis are also responsible for cold. Bacteria which cause conjunctivitis also cause ear infection. Conjunctivitis spreads by touching. If a person touches the hand of the infected person, who has recently touched his eyes, also gets the infection. And since infected children deal with their parents and children, they also pose the risk of getting the infection. The prevention in this case is to wash hands often with warm water and disinfecting soap. Conjunctivitis when caused by bacteria & virus, and is contagious is known as infectious conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can also be caused due to allergies or because of entry of irritating foreign body into the eyes. Conjunctivitis caused by this medium is not contagious. A doctor should be approached upon if the itchiness is very irritating. The doctor will check the eyes for redness and liquid discharge. The doctor would ask about the encounter with any friend or known person who seemed to have pinkeye or whether the conjunctivitis was caused because of some allergy or entry of foreign object into the eye. The doctor can also check the ears for the possibility of ear infection. If the pinkeye is caused because of bacterial infection, the doctor will recommend antibiotic eye ointment or drops. Usually infants are given eye ointment, whereas children and adults are given eye drops. The parents should put the drops or ointment into the child’s eyes four to five times a day for nearly seven days or so. The dosage and timings should be maintained to get rid of the infection completely. If the conjunctivitis is caused due to virus, there is nothing much the antibiotics can do. And if the pinkeye is caused by allergies or any foreign object, the doctor can recommend special eye drops to deal with the allergy symptoms. Warm water can also be splashed on the eyes to ease the itching. A cool or warm washcloth can be used to clean the discharge. Parents can clean the eyes carefully with cotton balls and warm water and remove the crusty stuff which is formed at the ends of the eyes. The towels and washcloths used for cleaning should head straight to the laundry so that the infection doesn’t spread to other family members. Constipation in Children Constipation is a condition of improper bowel movement. Usually the child experiences pain and has a hard time passing dry and hard stool. In normal condition there is no pain while passing the stool and it has a soft texture. The bowel movement is also regular. A child having constipation not only finds it difficult to pass stool, but at times will feel the urge to pass and when he goes to the toilet, he cannot relive himself. The digestive system is responsible from the intake of the food to the smooth passage of waste. The food or fluids are consumed from the mouth, which heads towards the stomach via the food pipe. After the stomach treats the food with acid, it passes on to the small intestines and then to the large intestines, also known as bowels. The final stage of food digestion is the outlet through of the waste through the anus and rectum. During the whole processing, the body parts absorb nutrients and water from the food supplied to them. The left over matter comes out as waste. It is a myth among some people who say that an individual is constipated if he or she doesn’t pass stool on a daily basis. But the truth is that the bathroom habit differs from one individual to other. So if constipation is to be checked the regular pattern of bathroom habit of that particular individual must be checked and the comparisons must not be made with the other. Other than not passing stool regularly, the child feels full most of the times and is a little uncomfortable. The belly can also feel stretched because of the full feeling. The child makes great effort to pass and the experience is very painful. Even after passing, the child may feel the urge of passing more stools. Because of the hard stool, it cause small tears in the anus skin and there will be little blood on the toilet paper. The child should immediately tell this to his parents, who can take care of the situation immediately. Some kids who have a worse condition will pass watery stool, something similar to diarrhea, and mucus along with the hard stool. Constipation is becoming more and more widespread because of the unhealthy diet pattern followed by most of us today. With the trend of fast food, other fatty, starchy and sugary foods, children aren’t getting the required amount of fiber, which in turn slows down the bowels. It is the responsibility of the parents to make their children eat fiber enriched foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Along with eating food rich with fiber, it is also a must to drink enough fluids. Water is the best fluid for this condition. Fluids help to soften the stool and allow smooth passage within the intestine. Insufficient intake of fluids makes the stool dry and hard. Children are becoming more stagnant because of video games, internet and television, which are leaving them with little or no time for physical exercise. Exercise helps the food to move through the digestive system. Lesser active play time and physical activity is also a major cause of constipation. Medicines should be avoided and should be taken only when doctor recommends them. Stress and anxiety can play havoc over the digestive system. School going kids are usually stressed out because of the homework, assignments, and exams. An adult can talk the kid out of the stress. Children, who have the irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, worsen their condition because of stress. Spicy and fatty foods can also act as triggers, along with the stress. Kids having this syndrome might even experience gas and belly pain. Sometimes children avoid going to the bathroom when they feel the need for. Usually unclean restrooms keep children away. But when the nature’s call is neglected, it becomes harder to go at a later time. In very rare cases, medical conditions such as lupus, diabetes and thyroid gland malfunctioning can also lead to constipation. Corn, Calluses and Blisters in Children Almost every kid and teenager faces corns, calluses and blisters problem. They cause extreme discomfort, but at the same time, they are easily preventable. The major cause for all of them is friction between the skin and foreign objects. Dancers experience corns. They are painful bumps on the toes. Area affected with corn becomes hard and the skin becomes thick. The skin surrounding it becomes yellow and it appears like a soft ring encircling it. Skin in the center is gray. They develop on the toes mostly and appear because of tight shoes, which apply lots of pressure on the toe region. The rubbing of the shoes elevates the problem. In this case, a more comfortable pair of shoes should be opted. Corns take longer time to go away. A doughnut shaped pad can be worn in the shoe to avoid friction. Pads with salicylic acid are also highly suggested. If the corn is hurting badly, a podiatrist should be consulted. Many people complain of callus after shoveling or raking leaves. The symptoms are that the affected area develops hard skin and are similar to that of corn. Repeated application of pressure will thicken the hardened skin which has a yellow or grayish color. In some sense, it actually acts as a protection layer. Gymnasts and guitarist often are victims of callus. Gymnasts develop them when working with uneven parallel bars and guitarists develop them when playing with the strings continuously. But once they are formed, calluses make their task easier. Gymnasts can swing on bars more easily and guitarists can play the guitar well. Callus when formed on the foot, especially on the sole, can be very painful every time it is stepped on. They form on the ball or the curvy part of the sole, which follows the toes. Sometimes they can also form the heel or on small toes. To avoid callus, it is advised to avoid tight fitting shoes and shoes with high heels. Both of them put a lot of pressure and stress on certain points. The callus can be soaked in lukewarm water and then it should be rubbed with a pumice stone. This will remove the dead skin. Blisters are usually caused when new pair of shoes has been worn, in general terms, they are caused by pressure and rubbing. Also they are formed more easily when compared to calluses. The skin is popped up with some watery fluid inside it and can appear anywhere on the hand or the feet. The best way to avoid them is to wear protecting gear such as gloves when doing heavy duty work, like while shoveling or even when driving a cycle or a bike. If the blisters aren’t taken care of in the initial stages, they grow further to form calluses. This can happen when the same pair of shoes is worn everyday, which caused the blister in the first place. Blisters heal by themselves over a period of time. They should be cleaned regularly and kept clean & covered with a bandage. In case of corn, calluses and blisters, the best approach is prevention when compared to cure. Firstly, protective gear, like work gloves or grips, should be worn when doing strenuous jobs. Tight-fitting shoes should not be worn to avoid corn and calluses. Researchers say that the feet are of the maximum size in afternoon. So it is advisable to shop for shoes in the afternoon. Also a trial should be done before deciding on the final pair. A particular pair of shoes shouldn’t be worn on a regular basis. Shoe pads can be worn to avoid the pressure. Ear Infections in Children Middle ear infection is a very common problem faced by children. Even infants below two years could face this problem. Infection in the ear is caused by germs and viruses. They enter the human body and grow to cause infection, affecting the normal functioning of the body. Similarly, germs can enter the ears. Depending on the location of infection, the infections are named. The human ear can be divided into the inner part, middle part and outer part. When the outer ear is infected by germs, the infection is known as swimmer’s ear. When the inner part of the ear gets infected, it is called middle ear infection. The germs infect the middle portion of the ear and fill that area with pus or a yellow gooey liquid. This liquid has cells which fight germs. The middle part of the ear is shaped in the form of a tiny air pocket. It is located at the back of the eardrum. And when the pus begins to fill in this area, the ear feels like a filled balloon which is on the verge of popping. This feeling is really painful. The throat is connected to the middle portion of the ear through a channel known as Eustachian tube and in fact middle portions of both the ears are connected to the throat by two Eustachian tubes. The job of these tubes is to allow the free movement of air, from the middle ear, in and out direction. Infants below three years have less developed and smaller Eustachian tubes and therefore are less capable of keeping germs completely out of the middle ear. As the child grows, so do the Eustachian tubes and the more capable they are of keeping germs outside, but they still face some problem. Usually kids, who have allergic problems and catch cold very frequently, are more prone to get ear infections. When the child gets cold, the Eustachian tube gets obstructed which allow germs to get into the middle ear. And the germs which gain entry, multiply rapidly resulting in a middle ear infection. The child gets a fever along with the ear pain. Some even find it difficult to hear because of the blockage. Middle ear infection is not contagious, but the cold caught from others can eventually result in an ear infection. The sooner the doctor is contacted, the better for the child and the rest of the family members. The doctor will check the ear with the help of an otoscope. It is a special flashlight which makes the eardrum visible. The eardrum is a thin membrane separating the outer ear from the middle ear. The otoscope can also be used to blow a puff of air into the ear. This determines whether the ear drum is functioning normally and is moving in a healthy way or not. Because of the puss formation due to the infection, the fluid will press against the ear drum and may even make it to bulge. Also, the eardrum can turn red because of the infection. The doctor will prescribe a pain reliever to be taken for the next two days. Antibiotics will be prescribed if the infection is caused because of bacteria, which will end the infection within a couple of days. Incase, the doctor recommends an antibiotic, the cycle must be completed as told by the doctor, otherwise there can be a possibility of re-infection. Few children who get ear infections frequently will have to undergo other tests such as tympanogram and audiogram. Children can take some steps to avoid ear infection. They must wash their hands regularly. They must keep away from people who are infected with cold. And if they do come near or in contact with an infected person, they should wash their hands and should not touch their eyes or nose. Parents, who smoke, should not do it near the kid as the tobacco smoke can be responsible for the malfunctioning of the Eustachian tube. Eczema in Children When a skin rash cannot be blamed on poison ivy or chicken pox, the culprit is eczema. In this condition, the skin turns red, scaly and develops sores. The itching is beyond the limit and the skins starts to shed in the form of scales. Dermatitis is the other name for eczema. Dermatitis actually means inflammation of the skin and the skin turns pink and sore. Eczema is a common child problem as out of ten kids at least one kid gets eczema and majority of them get it before they turn five years old. Children who are above five years are also at a risk of developing eczema, but once they become teenagers, the chances are negligible. Not only does eczema dries the skin, it also makes it itch horribly. The skin break out can even take the form of rashes. Eczema is a condition which comes and goes frequently and therefore it is chronic. When any foreign bodies come in contact with the skin, a special kind of cells present in the skin will react to them. Basically, they inflame the skin as a measure of protection. The harmful foreign objects trigger the reaction and make these special cells to over react. This turns the skin itchy, sore and red. Children, who get eczema frequently, have a larger quantity of these special cells. Usually, people who have family members with asthma, hay fever or any allergies are more prone to getting eczema. It is in their genes to get eczema and this problem is passed over to them by their parent. Some scientists say that people, who as children have had eczema, are at a higher risk of developing asthma or hay fever later in their life. Allergies can only make eczema worse. The good news is that eczema is not contagious, so children can be happy about not catching the infection. The first symptom of eczema is rash development. These rashes may seem to go away in the beginning, but will return back. Although eczema itches badly, not all rashes will itch. Eczema will start to develop behind the knees and inside of the elbows. It will slowly spread to the face and other body parts. Because rashes can be caused due to many other reasons apart from eczema, the doctor will examine the rashes and its cause very carefully. If eczema is confirmed, the child may have to use a moisturizing cream or lotion to stop the itchiness and drying of the skin. In serious cases, the patient will be recommended corticosteroids. It is a steroid cream or ointment which needs to applied to check skin inflammation. If the itching is really irritating, antihistamine can be taken in either liquid or pill form. And if the scratching had resulted in an infection, antibiotics will also be prescribed. The problem doesn’t get solved forever, but it makes the condition better for the time being. There are certain things which trigger eczema and should be avoided by children who get eczema frequently. Perfumes, detergents, soap, dry air in winters with very little moisture, and sweaty and hot skin. Also when coming in contact with dust mites and scratchy fabrics can increase skin irritation. The child must abstain from scratching even if the skin is itching badly, as that will make the skin itch more badly. The skin can also get infected with bacteria because of skin breaking and bleeding. A washcloth can be dipped on cool water and placed on the area of itchiness. The parents should cut the nails short of the child so that he/she doesn’t hurt himself while scratching. Lastly, lots of water should be consumed to provide moisture to the dry skin. Fever in Children The normal temperature of human body is 98.6°F. If the temperature is taken rectally, the thermometer will show a rise of 1°F, that is it will show 99.6°F. The normal body temperature can vary slightly among individuals. The doctors consider the rise in body temperature as fever if it crosses the mark of 99.4°F when taken orally and 100.4°F when taken rectally. Rectal checking of temperature is done in infants and children who are older than four years have their temperature checked orally. Infants under three months should be rushed to the hospital if they have fever above 100.5°F. The same applies for children older than three months and having a body temperature above 102°F. Digital thermometers provide a more accurate temperature reading. Mercury thermometers pose a health risk to the family as it is an environmental toxin. Hence, this is another good reason why mercury thermometers should be replaced with digital thermometers. Parents must take few measures before and during the task of checking the child’s temperature. First of all, the parent should be sure about the kind of thermometer he or she wants to use, that is whether the thermometer should be meant for oral use or rectal use. The child shouldn’t be bundled up very tightly before the temperature is checked. When the thermometer is being held by the child, the parent should supervise the whole procedure. Infants might experience pain when the thermometer is inserted into his rectum. Therefore, it is a good idea to cover the thermometer’s tip with petroleum jelly before insertion and only half of the thermometer should be inserted inside. The thermometer should be held until the beep is heard as children tend to drop the thermometer, if it is left to them. When taking the temperature orally, the thermometer should be placed underneath the tongue and should be left there until the beep is heard. After usage, the thermometer should be washed with cold water and soap. When an infection is being fought by the body, it shows signs of fever. When the child becomes fussy and experiences aches in parts of the body, the child should be administered with some medicines. Medicines are available for children, depending on their needs, age and weight. The recommended dosage will be written on the pack or the label of the medicine and the parents should check that chart before giving any medicine to the child. If there is any kind of confusion, a doctor should always be consulted. Medicines like Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Tylenol for children are available over the counter. When acetaminophen is given along with lukewarm bath, it helps decrease the fever. The medicine should be given just before the bath. The water shouldn’t be cold and no alcohol products must be used while bathing. If bath is given minus acetaminophen, the child can begin to shiver and there is chance of body temperature going high again. Aspirin is not advisable for children as it may develop serious illness called Reye’s syndrome in the child. The risk is even more in kids having chickenpox or flu. Not more than five doses should be given in twenty four hours. If drops are given, the dropper should be filled till the marked line. A liquid medicine usually comes with a measuring device in the form of a cap. If not, it can be bought at the local drug store. Infants under four months shouldn’t be given medicine, unless told by the doctor. Certain symptoms call for immediate attention and the doctor must be contacted immediately. Symptoms can be dry mouth, rapid change in body temperature, ear-ache, behavioral changes, frequent diarrhea and vomiting, paleness, seizures, skin rashes, intense headaches, sore throat, swollen joints, irritability, high pitch crying, not feeling hungry, stiff neck, stomach ache, whimpering, wheezing, limpness, and breathing problems. At all times, the child must be made to wear comfortable cotton cloths which help the body to breath properly and at the same time absorbs the sweat. The child should also be given fluids constantly, in order to combat with dehydration. Flu and Cold in Children Flu and cold usually accompany each other when attacking a child’s immune system. It is a wide spread viral infection and the harsh truth is that there is no permanent treatment designed for it because of the involvement of many types of viruses which cannot be killed, but yes their growth rate can be suppressed. Symptomatic treatments can trigger the rate of improvement in the child’s health, but it might not work for all kids. The child can get affected by the flu and cold virus when he is exposed to an infected person. The symptoms are mild headache, feeling of tiredness, stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes, light fever, sneezing, cough, muscle aches, and sore throat. It takes two to five days for the symptoms to appear and three to five days for the complete development of the virus. It takes nearly two weeks to completely get rid of the flu. The virus attacks the upper respiratory system. These are the symptoms of cold. The symptoms of flu are more terrible than cold and grow very rapidly. They are high fever, runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion, chills, fatigue and nausea, vomiting, eye pain and extreme headache. Symptoms are extremely important when trying to differentiate between flu and a cold. As stated before, the symptoms of flu are more severe when compared to the symptoms of cold. Also, it is easier to get over cold than flu. The biggest clue will be recalling any incident of exposure to patients having either flu or cold. Even after thorough analysis, if it is difficult to reach any clear conclusion, a doctor should be consulted. A swab is taken from the nasal track or throat and the results are determined an hour after the test is taken. No antibiotics work on these viruses. Intake of antibiotics cannot better the condition in any way whatsoever. Also, there are chances of secondary bacterial infections like sinus or ear infection. The child should be administered with fluids and a cool mist humidifier to suppress the symptoms and to help him feel better. Medications are available over the counter which can be bought depending on the symptoms of the infected. Antiviral medicines are available for the treatment of flu, which hasten the recovery process. But the medicines are effective only when given within forty eight hours after the onset of flu symptoms. Runny nose, especially of infants and kids who cannot blow their nose, can be taken care of with the help of a bulb syringe or nasal drop. If flu isn’t treated at the right time, it can worsen the health of the infected and can also lead to pneumonia. Flu is a very commonly spreading infection among school going kids. According to a research, nearly twenty percent of Americans are infected with flu every year and nearly twenty thousand people die because of it. The only way to prevent the child from contracting these virus is by getting him/her a flu shot before the flu season or as recommended by the physician. The vaccine is either administered through a shot or nasal spray. Regular dosage will strengthen the immune system by constructing antibodies. The nasal spray vaccine contains live weakened viruses and shots contain completely dead viruses. By any chance, if the child does get exposed to the virus, he/she should be given medicine meant for flu patients, immediately. More than hundred viruses are known which cause cold. A lesser number of viruses are known to causes flu. That is the reason why there is a shot for flu and not cold. But flu shot cannot be taken by anyone or everyone. People who complain of allergic reactions from previous flu shots, people who have the Guillain-Barre syndrome and people allergic to eggs are not eligible for flu shots. It is highly recommended to take advice from a physician before getting vaccinated. Children and elderly should be given nasal spray vaccination, but instead they should opt for flu shots. Out of total population, there are certain people who have a greater probability of getting flu. Children up to five years of age, elders older than sixty five years, nursing home residents, pregnant women, patients with long term problems regarding health, and health care workers who come directly in contact with flu patients. Food Allergies in Kids Food allergies are a common problem in kids. Nearly two million children have food allergies in the United States. Some food allergies are life threatening, even if the food is taken in very little quantity. Peanut tops the list of notorious foods which cause allergies. Following it are milk, especially cow’s milk, soy, eggs, wheat, seafood and other nuts. Food allergies are caused when the immune system is confused. The job of the immune system is to protect the body from diseases, bacteria, viruses and germs. The antibodies produced by the immune system helps to fight these minute external organisms which makes the person sick. But if the body is allergic to certain food, the immune system mistakes the food to a harmful foreign substance and takes action towards it thinking that it is dangerous to the body. The body acts adversely, when it isn’t supposed to do so. When the immune system detects allergic substance, the antibodies produce mast cells. They are a kind of immune system cell which release a chemicals, such as histamine, in the bloodstream. These chemicals affect the respiratory system, digestive system, nose, eyes, throat, and skin. Initial symptoms are runny nose, tingling sensation in the lips or tongue, and itchy skin rash like hives. The reaction can be mild to severe and depends on every individual. The symptoms can appear right after the food is consumed or after few hours. Other symptoms are cough, wheezing, nausea, hoarse voice, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, and throat tightness. A sudden and harsh allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis. The patient encounters many problems, all at once which involve blood vessels, the heart, digestion, breathing, and skin. The blood pressure drops very steeply, the tongue swells and there is swelling in the breathing tubes. Patients who have such allergic reactions should be ready to handle emergencies. They should always carry some type of medicine which will help to combat or reduce the adverse affect of the food. Most of the times, it is very easy to detect the cause of food allergy. Problems such as hives begin to surface as soon as the child eats the substance he is allergic to. At other times, it becomes very difficult to determine the cause of allergy. In such cases, everything should be observed under close surveillance. Food items which are made out of many ingredients should be thoroughly checked for the allergic cause. Most of the times, allergies are inherited from other family members or other kids born with food allergies. Changes in the surroundings and the body play a major role in these kinds of cases. Some of the kids aren’t actually allergic to the food and show only mild reaction. Like people who are lactose intolerant suffer from diarrhea and belly pain after consuming milk and diary products. This is not an indication that the child is allergic to milk. This reaction happens because their body is incapable of breaking down the sugars which are found in diary products and milk. If the conditions are severe, a doctor should be consulted immediately. If food allergy is diagnosed, the doctor refers to an allergy specialist. The doctor asks questions like eating patterns, past allergic reactions and the time period between the consumption of food and the surfacing of the symptoms. The specialist can also ask about allergy related conditions like asthma or eczema and whether allergic reactions are hereditary. Usually skin test and blood test is done to test the antibodies and the reaction they have on the skin when it is exposed to the allergic substance. Kids who are allergic to egg and milk outgrow them as the age progresses. But allergies which are severe and are related to items such as peanut, shrimps, and some kind of fish, last for a lifetime. Other than food, children can be allergic to certain medicines and flower pollen. The best way to avoid allergies is to avoid the cause of it. No specific medicine has been developed for the cure of allergies. Frequent Headaches and Migraine in Children Children who get frequent headaches and migraine attacks have chronic illness. Such children and their parents face problem to adjust with school and their rules. Extra preparations and steps should be taken to cope with such illness. Pediatric specialist in migraine and headaches exist should be consulted for treatment and other precautionary & preventive measures. Also the triggers vary from child to child, which should be recognized accurately. Firstly, it is the strict attendance rule in most of the schools that children with chronic illness find it difficult to deal with. To add to it, majority of the schools have zero tolerance policy regarding medications, even including over the counter medicines. Reports of students getting expelled for merely carrying Advil in school with them are common. Prior to making appointment with the doctor, it is recommended that parents read the policy of the school the child is attending. It is good to ask questions before hand, than feeling sorry later. Some of the schools asks for letter or medical record as a proof, incase the student didn’t attend because of a health problem. Some schools consider sick leaves as regular leaves and in this case, the attendance gets affected greatly. School nurses can be given the prescribed medicine so that they can give the medicine to the child at the required time. If this is the case, things such as medicine storage location and availability of substitute should be checked. Apart from not attending regularly, the child can sometimes be unable to take part in co-curricular activities especially physical education and outdoor recess. Other possible options should be discussed with the teacher. Usually a recommendation letter from the physician will do the needed. In all the cases, some kind of medical identification can be carried by the child at all times. If the child is attending an after school babysitter or program, directly after school, extra measures should be taken. The babysitter or program in charge should be told about the problem in advance. Their cooperation can be asked for timely administration of the medicine and for taking special care of the child. If the child himself is grown enough to understand the matter, the child should be educated about taking medications. They should also be made to understand that it is harmful to take medicines from any un-trustable source even if their fellow students do. Budge them to ask questions and clarify any of their fears of concerns. Most of the children lack the ability to convey their problem properly. The situation is further aggravated because of different kinds of headaches. They can be related to chronic illness, tension, sinus or fever. Only diagnosis can bring out the correct problem. If the rate of headache becomes more frequent, like more than twice a month, doctor’s appointment should be taken instantly. Younger kids find it more difficult to explain the problem. If they become cranky, restless, irritating, tired, is having sleeping disorders and is not eating properly, a problem surely exists. Most of the children complain of headaches during exams because of increased stress. Seventy five percent of the children experience headaches because of tension. If so, stress management education, along with counseling, should be given to the kid. Headaches can be an indication of other problems, too. So, thorough diagnosis is highly recommended. The child’s previous medical history provides important clue. Prior to the doctor’s appointment, notes can be made after referring the medical history. Maintaining a log about the child’s headache frequencies, pain location, time of occurrence, symptoms, etc. also helps. If not due to illness, headaches can also be a result of head injury. Sometimes, headache can be hereditary, like in the case of migraines. Headaches can also be caused because of infections, vision problems, odd levels of blood pressure, neurological problems, muscle weakness, improper ear balance or serious problems such as tumor, blood clots, etc. If the doctor is not able to diagnose the problem, he/she can refer the child to a headache specialist or neurologist. Test such as CT scan or MRI are done if there is a serious problem. After the diagnosis, the doctor prescribes medication or will ask to take over the counter medicines. According to a study, children who face headaches and migraine take overdose of over the counter medicines for immediate pain reliving. In some of the cases, the parents are clueless about this situation. This practice is risky and mostly children above six years are involved in such cases. Motion Sickness in Children Children usually feel sick in the stomach when travelling in a car, airplane, boat or train. This sickness is known as motion sickness. This sickness is caused by reception of wrong signals by eyes, muscles, skin receptors, and inner ears. While travelling, different body parts send different signals to the brain. Eyes see things around and it sends signals about the direction of movement while in motion. The joint sensory receptors and muscles send signals about the movement of the muscles and the position in which the body is. The skin receptors send signals about the parts of the body which are in contact with the ground. The inner ears have a fluid in the semicircular canals. This fluid senses motion and the direction of motion like forward, backward, up, down, circular, or to and fro. When the brain gets timely reports from the various body parts, it tries to find a relation between all the signals and then sketches a picture about the body’s movement and position at a particular instant. But when the brain isn’t able to find a link and isn’t able to draw a picture out of the received signals, the condition called motion sickness is experienced. For example, if a child is riding in a car and reading something at the same time, the eyes will see stationary book. But the skin receptors and the inner ears will sense the body moving in a forward direction. The eyes and the muscle receptors will send signals that the body is not moving. This confuses the brain and everything is jumbled up in the head. This makes the child dizzy, sick in the stomach and even tired. There is a possibility of the child throwing up, so it is recommended that the parents carry a sick bag each time they are travelling with kids. And if the child is feeling anxious or scared, the condition can deteriorate further. Although there are medicines available over the counter to deal with motion sickness, some measures should be taken to avoid medicine and also motion sickness. The child should always be made to sit facing in the forward direction. He/she should not face or sit backwards, nor should he be made to sit in a seat facing backwards. This helps the ears and the eyes to send similar kind of signal. It is good if the kid isn’t involved in some kind of activity like reading, playing video games or something which is stationary. He/she must be asked to look outside, especially at things which are located at a distance. The same applies when travelling in an airplane. When travelling in a boat, the child can go to the upper deck and look at the horizon. Basically, the child must be made to concentrate at things which are located at a distance and are in motion. When looking at something stationary, the eyes get confused and send wrong signals. It also helps to sit in a place which is moving the least. Usually, it is the center point of the body, so the more close the child sits to the center, the better. Like when in an airplane, it is good to sit in seats in the middle aisle and not in those which are located near the wings. If the child is sitting in the center of the boat, instead of the front or the side, the lesser seasick the child will feel. In spite of all these measures if the child is still feeling sick a doctor should be consulted. The doctor checks the inner ears for any defect. He will also check other body parts which are responsible for sensing motion. Apart from medicine, pressure bracelets are also available at the local pharmacy. And along with carrying a sick bag or any other plastic bag, the car can be pulled over and the child should be walked out a bit to feel better. Pains during Growth in Children Growing pain is part and parcel of the growing phase in a child’s life. When the child stops growing so will the growing pain and when adolescence is reached, they disappear completely. Growing pain can occur between three to five years or eight to twelve years of age. Growing pains are usually experienced in the legs usually in the calves, in the area in front of thighs and behind the knees. The pain starts either in the afternoon or night, just before bedtime. The child can go to bed pain free, but can wake up in the middle of the night complaining of throbbing pain in the legs. But the good part is that these pains vanish by morning. About twenty five to forty percent of the children are known to experience growing pain. Growing pains are experienced in the muscle region and not around the bones or joints. One of the major reasons of getting growing pains is because of the strenuous activities of the kids during the day. All the jumping around, running and climbing make the muscles tired. But no evidence has been collected which can prove that the growing pain is caused by bone growth. Growing pains are also known to be caused by spurt of growth. This happens because the tendons or the muscles are too tight and do not synchronize with the growing of the bones. As a results muscle spasms are caused which last for less than fifteen minutes. The child usually gets pain in both the legs and not just one. And usually, growing pains do not get accompanied with redness, swelling or fever. The pain should be over by morning and if it is still persisting after the awakening of the kid, the problem could be related to something else and more serious. If the pain is unbearable, the parent or caretaker should administer pain relieving medications which are available over the counter such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Aspirin should not be given to children as they have a tendency to develop a very serious illness known as Reye Syndrome. Heating pads can be placed on the region that is hurting to ease the pain. Massage can also be given by the parent or the child can do stretching exercise to help the muscles relax. If the child develops fever, redness, swelling, tenderness, limitation in movement, or if the child limps while walking, the doctor should be approached. Before that the parent can do a little diagnosis of the intensity of the pain by feeling around the area and observing the pain experienced by the child. The pain shouldn’t be so intense that the child is abstained from normal routine such as walking, running or playing. The doctor conducts the diagnosis of exclusion to understand the problem. According to this diagnosis, it is not made until all the conditions are checked before considering growing pains. The doctor studies the child’s medical history and conducts a physical examination. In some serious cases, the doctor advices to go for X-ray or blood test before the final decision is made. Children can prevent the growing pains by doing stretching exercises on a daily basis. The exercise need not be complex. Even if the pain subsides, the exercise should be continued so as to keep the tendons and muscles relaxed and to adjust with the growth spurt. Fluids, when taken in good quantity, decrease the cramping. For this reason, the child should be given tonic water or quinine before going to bed. Pinworms in Children Pinworms develop as a result of unhygienic habit of not washing hands before having food. They are small worms who resemble to small thread pieces and cause itching in the anus area. Pinworms infect humans only and reside in the intestines. Every school going kid encounters this problem at one time or the other. They can touch another kid infected with pinworm or an object having the eggs of the pinworm. The eggs of the pinworm’s eggs get on the fingernails and that why it is a good idea to wash the hands regularly. If the food is eaten without washing hands, these eggs go inside the body, by the digestive system. In the small intestine, the eggs hatch and the pinworms move towards the large intestine. There, they cling onto the walls of the intestine and stay there for few weeks to mature. After that the female pinworms go towards large intestine’s end to lay eggs near the anus region. Usually the eggs are laid at night and that is the time when the area itches. It takes one to two months time period after the consumption of the eggs, for the maturing of the pinworms who lay new eggs. The eggs get hatched on the anus’s skin and the baby pinworms will crawl inside the body in order to grow. Pinworms eggs are found anywhere like on the kitchen counter, school desk or bed. They are also found on utensils, clothes and towels. When outside the human body, the eggs can live up to two weeks. Within that time period when they are touched, there is a chance to enter the human body and flourish. Pinworms are contagious and can spread from one human to another. Also they can spread by air as the eggs are lightweight and the wind can blow them and they can be breathed in or swallowed by anyone. The child can intake more eggs when he scratches his bottom and doesn’t wash his/her hands immediately. Children infected with pinworms can see worms in their stool after they pass and even on the underwear. The worms look like small white threads. But the eggs aren’t visible to the naked eyes. If the child observes these symptoms he/she should inform the adults about the condition. The itching caused by pinworms can be so bad that it can wake the child in the middle of the night and make him/her squirm. The doctors usually prescribe some medicine to kill the pinworms. The doctors also take samples from underneath the fingernail and the anus to check for eggs. The medicine will take about two weeks to get rid of the worms completely. If the itching is very irritating and wakes the child in the middle of the night, a cream is prescribed by the doctor. Sometimes other members of the house will also be asked to take the same medicine as a precautionary measure. The parents should wash all the clothes, towels and sheets used by the pinworm infected child. The best way to deal with pinworms is taking precautionary steps in the first place. The child must cultivate a habit of washing hands before eating food, after using the bathroom and after playing outdoors. The fingernails should also be clipped regularly to not to allow eggs depositing there. The eggs also hang onto clothes, so it is a good habit to change underwear daily. And other clothes should be washed after every few days. Pneumonia in Children Pneumonia is the infection of the either one lung or both. When both the lungs get infected it is known as double pneumonia. When the pneumonia is mild enough that the visit to the doctor can be avoided and the child can carry out daily activities normally, it is known as walking pneumonia. The lungs are an important part of the respiratory system. The air which is breathed in contains oxygen, which is filtered by the lungs. This oxygen then is carried around the body with the help of blood which is passed from the breathing tubes by the alveoli. Capillaries or the minute blood vessels are surrounded by small air sacs known as alveoli. There are over six hundred million alveoli in the human body. The air which is taken in is supplied to the alveoli; the oxygen extracted from the air is dissolved in the blood. Then it is the job of the red blood cells to distribute the oxygen to all the body parts. Oxygen is vital in the proper functioning of the human body and insufficient supply of oxygen can damage the organs and sometimes can be life threatening. This functioning is disturbed when the lungs get infected by pneumonia. Pneumonia does not allow the lungs to function properly, because the infection produces fluid which obstructs the alveoli. In turn the oxygen does not penetrate deep inside the lungs and lesser oxygen is supplied to the blood. The breathing is affected and the condition worsens when both the lungs get infected with pneumonia. People of all ages from infants to old could get affected with pneumonia. It is a myth among people that getting wet makes the person catch pneumonia. But it is actually the virus or the bacteria which causes the infection. When a person infected with flu or cold faces a deterioration in his/her condition, he/she can be infected with pneumonia. This happens because the irritation caused by the flu or cold helps the pneumonia germs to get into the lungs easily and move around to spread the infection. The virus or bacteria which cause pneumonia can cause damages, whose severity can depend on the health of the child. If the infection is caused by bacteria, the child will get sick very soon and can get high temperature fever accompanied with chills. Pneumonia caused by virus develops very slowly and it takes longer time to go away. The child can also experiences cough, chest pain, headache, and or muscle ache. It can also make it difficult to breath, so the child will start to breath faster which may make him cough out gloppy mucus. The child would have to totally abstain from eating. When given the right treatment, the child can recover fully. The doctor will first examine the heartbeat and breathing with the help of the stethoscope. The stethoscope also helps to check the lungs, the sounds made by the lungs help to determine if it contains any fluids. Sounds such as crackling or bubbling are indications of pneumonia. Chest X-ray will be taken too. White patchy area will show fluid buildup. By looking at the X-ray, the doctor can also determine whether the infection is caused by bacteria or virus. If it is caused by bacteria, antibiotics will be prescribed. And if it is difficult for the child to swallow the medicine or to retain it inside, he/she will be injected with IV fluid. And if virus is responsible for the infection, antibiotics won’t work. Fever reducers, along with cough medicine, will be given in this case. The medicines will be of no use, if the child doesn’t take adequate rest and plenty of liquids. Shots can be taken to prevent pneumonia. These series of shots are called pneumococcal. Regular flu shots can also prove helpful, especially for kids who have asthma or other kinds of lung infection. Rest and sleep also strengthens the immune system. Washing hands regularly can keep harmful germs at bay. Poison Ivy and Children Summer camps and family hiking sessions can sometimes result in children getting itchy rashes. To be blamed are plants such as poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak. All of them produce the same substance or oil, called urushiol, which cause rashes. Urushiol is colorless and even odorless and is present within the leaves. Poison ivy can even grow in the backyards and parks. So any kind of outdoor activity should be monitored and the lawn should be de-weeded periodically. Bushes should be checked, as they grow as a regular plant and the child would not be able to distinguish the poisonous plant from the regular one. Precaution is better than cure. Children should be educated and made to understand the description and ill-effects of poison ivy. They come in wide range and some change the appearance depending on seasonal variations. Urushiol is released from the leaves only when the leaves are damaged like when they are torn, get bumped or are brushed. The moment the leave is damaged, urushiol is released and the skin is affected immediately. Also, what many people do not know that to get a rash by poison ivy is not only by coming directly in contact with the plant. Human and animal carriers of urushiol can affect people coming in contact with them. The leaves of the plant can be flown by the air, which can cause damage when those leaves are handled or burned with the rest of the leaves and twigs. Once the children are made familiar with the plants, they should be asked to steer clear on the sight of the plant or leaves. Parents should avoid places where there are possibilities of growth of such plants. When going on camps, etc., children should not be dressed in short sleeves and short length pants, so that the body does not brush off such plants. In spite of taking all these precautions, if the child comes in contact with such plants and contact with urushiol is suspected, the area should be washed with water and disinfectant. It is best to take shower and clean the whole body and the clothes should be removed immediately and washed. Pets should also be bathed after their outdoor adventures. Basically, the urushiol causes an allergic reaction which irritates the skin and that is the reason why it is known as an allergen. This allergen won’t harm all, but eighty percent of the victims get skin irritations. It not only creates itchy rashes, but can also swell the skin. The time period for the symptoms to surface is few hours to five days. The rash usually takes one to two week to heal completely. First the skin swells and rash develops. Blisters can also form as a result of regular rubbing of the skin to get rid of the itch. The blisters will form a crust after some days and will flake off. If the rashes are accompanied with fever, a pediatrician should be contacted for appointment. And if the case isn’t that serious, the doctor recommends home remedies. The child would be asked to be given showers with cold water and calamine lotion would have to be applied. If the redness and itching is intense, fluid medicine along with pills are administered to the kid. Antihistamine is very popular in such cases. Steroids are prescribed by the doctor. Sinus and Sinus Attack in Children Sinus might seem like common cold at first. The child coughs, sneezes and gets a red nose, like in cold. But the difference is that sinus attack last longer than common cold. Sinuses are spaces in the bones of the face and the head which are filled with air. They are exactly located on both sides of the nose, behind the nasal cavity, within the forehead, and at the back & in between the eyes. Sinuses grow in pairs and there are four pairs of them. Sinuses begin to develop in the mother womb and grow till twenty years of age. As children have an incompletely developed immune system, they catch cold infection more frequently. The actual purposes of the sinuses are not known, but scientists say that they make the head lightweight as these air pockets are filled with light air. If these air pockets were to be replaced with something solid, the head will become heavier. The sinuses also provide tone and depth to the voice. That is the reason why the voice sounds funny when a person catches a cold or gets a sinus attack. The sinuses are covered with a thin and moist tissue layer known as a mucous membrane. These membranes are responsible for adding moisture to the air breathed in. They also produce mucus, a sticky liquid filled in the nose, also called snot. This sticky liquid catches germs and dust, which are carried by the air, before they enter the body. The mucus membranes are covered with cilia or microscopic hair. These cilia move to and fro to encourage the flow of the mucus out of the nose and back inside. When the sinuses are infected, the membranes produce more mucus and become swollen and irritated. When a person catches cold, the virus harms the cilia and the mucus doesn’t get swept back in. This is how a runny nose is developed. The mucus lining swells within the nose. This narrows or completely blocks the minute opening of the sinus into nose. Because of this, the stickier and thicker mucus produced get trapped in the sinuses. This stagnant mucus becomes the breeding ground for virus, bacteria and fungi. If the common cold stretches for over two weeks, the sinusitis condition develops. This condition is sinus infection. Acute sinusitis is sinusitis stretching over two weeks or so. But when it crosses three months, it is called chronic sinusitis. The child can get mild fever along with acute sinusitis. There is no fever associated with chronic sinusitis and the symptoms are less intense. The symptoms of sinusitis or sinus attacks are mild fever, bad breath, continuous nasal discharge, puffy eyes, and daytime cough. Some children also experience low energy, crankiness, headache and pain behind the forehead, cheeks and eyes. When the doctor is approached for help, he/she will check throat, nose and ears for infection. The sinuses are also checked. The doctor will press or tap on the cheeks and forehead. If bacteria are responsible for causing the infection, the child will be given antibiotics to kill the bacteria. The antibiotics will show their effect within few days itself. A nasal spray or decongestant can also be used to treat blocked and runny nose. If it is chronic sinusitis, the antibiotics need to be taken for a longer time period, like for about a few weeks, in order to kill the bacteria completely. The child shouldn’t stop the course of medicine if he/she isn’t seeing any improvement in the condition. The doctor should be contacted for further instructions. In this case, a surgery is an alternative. The doctor will ask the child to get a CT scan of the sinuses. The best thing about sinusitis is that it isn’t contagious. So if a kid is infected with it, he/she can still go to school and have fun with the rest of the kids. But kids who have sinus problem should stay away from environmental pollutants and allergies, which can trigger the condition again in them. Stomach Flu in Children Stomach flu or gastroenteritis is a kind of infection in the digestive system, especially the stomach and intestines. Causes for this condition are parasite, bacteria, or virus infection spread through contaminated food and fluids. It can also be caused by certain toxins present in some plants & seafood, usage of powerful laxatives in order to cure constipation or because of intake of poisonous heavy metal or food. The problem starts with stomach upset and cramps. The child shows disinterest in eating and feels week. Symptoms of stomach flu are diarrhea and vomiting, which take nearly five days to go away. Sometimes, even fever can accompany along with dehydration. The child must be given fluids regularly as this will suppress other symptoms from emerging because of loss of water from the body. Loss of water and salt from the body is the biggest risk in stomach flu. Dehydration can not only worsen the condition, but can threaten the life of the child, if it isn’t taken care of in the early stages. Since there is loss of salts along with the loss of water from the body, plain water won’t do much. Oral rehydration solutions which are available at the local grocery or drug store, is a good idea because it has the correct combination of salts, sugar and water which can hydrate the body. These fluids come in different flavor, so that kids can have their favorite flavor and is easy to consume. The solution shouldn’t be added with anything else such as sugar or water. If a child is vomiting, solution can be administered to him using a teaspoon every two minutes. The quantity can be increased gradually. If the vomiting is more frequent, the child can be made to suck ice chips in order to supply constant fluid to the body. The solution should be given till diarrhea comes to a halt, but it is not advisable to continue it for more than twenty four hours. Some of the fluids such as soft drinks, sports drink, apple juice, tea, or chicken broth contain wrong amounts of salt, sugar & water and can make matter worse. Besides fluids, the parent shouldn’t give any type of medicine without consulting a pediatrician. Fried, spicy and sugary foods aren’t good in this condition. If the child isn’t receiving sufficient amount of fluids he/she will show signs such as sunken eyes, dry mouth, intense thirst, unusual sleep patterns, and decrease in urine. The more the bed rest taken by the child the better it is. The child should take complete bed rest for at least twenty four hours or till the diarrhea and vomiting stops. If the child has fever, the temperature should be checked and noted in a log, every four hours. If the temperature is very high and doesn’t stop climbing, the doctor should be contacted immediately. The person who is preparing and serving food to the child should wash his or her hands very carefully before doing so. Also, if the diarrhea and vomiting doesn’t stop after twenty four hours, it is a must to get a doctor’s appointment. The child should be rushed into emergency if the vomiting contains blood or green color substance. The doctor, after doing stool and blood test, prescribes antibiotics if infection is suspected. Along with it, anti nausea medicines are also given to stop the throwing up and control fluid loss. If there is considerable loss of fluids from the child’s body, the child might be admitted into the hospital and will be administered with fluids such as glucose or IV, through a tube connected to the child’s veins. If the child has fever, temperature is checked and the doctor would ask about information about the temperature pattern, for which the parent should be ready. If the illness is stretched for days, a log about the information about the daily weight should also be given to the doctor. Sometimes, the blood oxygen levels would also have to be checked with the help of a pulse oximeter. Swimmer’s Ear in Children Swimmer’s ear is bacterial growth infection inside the canal of the ear. It is also known as Otitis Externa. It differs a lot from ear infections which are dealt with on a regular basis, which is contracted at times when the child catches a cold. The common ear infection is known as Otitis Media, in which the middle of the ear is infected. Incase of swimmer’s ear, the ear canal which leads towards the ear drum is infected by bacteria. The first symptom is that when the finger is stuck inside the ear canal, it will hurt a lot. In normal cases, it won’t hurt at all. The skin within that are is very delicate and hence, is protected by nature by a thin earwax coating. Usually, water can easily glide inside and then outside the ear without any problem. But when the water cleans some or all of the earwax and if some of the water is retained inside, the bacteria will take advantage of this situation. Chemicals in the water aggravate the situation by increasing the irritation. It starts growing within the soft and warm ear canal and can cause swelling and redness. A slight itchiness also accompanies it. But the child must be instructed to not to scratch, otherwise there is a greater chance of the situation becoming worse. If there is no itchiness, obviously there will be pain, which is the initial symptom. The ear should not be bumped or touched even from the exterior, as that will cause intense pain. Hearing can become difficult due to the bacterial infection as that will swell the ear canal and block the passage. The pain and itchiness can only be gotten rid off by fighting the infection and killing the grown bacteria. In usual cases, ear drops are prescribed by the doctor. These ear drops have antibiotics which are meant to kill the bacteria. The dosage and number of days to use the ear drops as told by the doctor should be strictly followed. If the doses are missed there is a possibility of bacterial re-growth. A wick is also introduced inside the ear, sometimes. This wick actually is small piece of sponge with absorbed lotion. The wick is left inside then. This procedure is used when the doctor thinks it is important to apply medicine directly to the part of the ear canal which is infected. If the pain is unbearable by the child, parents can give pain killers, but only after taking suggestion from the doctor. Once the antibiotics begin working, pain killers can be stopped. Swimmer’s ear cannot be just attained cause of water entering the ear at the time of taking baths or showers. Children, who have joined the summer swimming camp, can complain of this problem. After the swimmer’s ear is treated, the child shouldn’t swim immediately. Doctor, usually, advices them to stay away from water for a week or two. The time period may sound very long, but it keeps the pain away for a long time. Special ear drops are available over the counter which can be put inside the child’s ear after swimming is over. This will dry up any water inside the ear, if any. Swimmer’s ear can also be caused when inquisitive kids try to stuff things inside the ear and thus damaging it. Bacteria get a chance of developing on the scratched area. In this case, only parent’s supervision will do the trick. Urinary Tract Infection in Children Urinary tract infection makes urinating painful. The infected children thinks twice before going to the bathroom and they always get a feeling to go to the bathroom. The urine also smells bad because of the infection. Bacteria are responsible for infecting the urinary track. The urinary track consists of certain parts such as two kidneys, bladder, two ureters and a urethra. The kidney does the major job of cleaning waste from the blood. The waste material is urine which is passed to the bladder through the ureters. The shape of the bladder is very similar to a deflated balloon. When the bladder gets filled two hundred and thirty seven milliliters of urine, the brain sends signals to go to the bathroom. When the person gets ready to pass, the muscles located at the end of the bladder relax which lets the urine rush through the urethra, from the bladder, and out of the body. When children face any of the symptoms of urinary track information, they should talk about it to their parents as the symptoms are visible to the patient more than to others. Parents can observe the urinating frequency of the children. The child feels terrible pain while peeing. He/she is able to pass only small quantity at a time. He/she also gets up several times during the night to go to the bathroom. There is a strange sensation in the lower part of the belly. Blood can also pass along with the urine. Also the urine isn’t a clear solution and is cloudy. The urine smells badly after passing. These are all the symptoms of bladder infection. The child can also feel feverish along with chills. Pain can be experienced in the back or the belly. When the pain is right below the ribs, it is a clear sign of kidney infection. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the child should be taken to the doctor. The doctor will take urine sample for testing. The urine is taken in a plastic cup, into which the child pees. Before passing, the child must wipe the area with special wipes, so that the germs from the body do not confuse with the germs in the urine. Germs in the urine are an indication of infection. Although there are million of germs residing on the exterior of the body, they are completely harmless. Only a few of them actually infect the body. A stick is dipped in the urine sample. The stick is special, that is it is a specially treated paper which changes color upon determination of an infection. Otherwise, the urine sample can also be sent to the laboratory. Incase of a bladder infection, the doctor will prescribe medicine that kills the bacteria. The child will begin to feel good just few days after starting to consume the medicine. But he/she must stay away from food and liquid which has caffeine in it as it can elevate the bladder irritation and the patient will feel very uncomfortable. After the test, if kidney infection is detected, the child will be hospitalized for few days. He/she will be given a germ fighting medicine which will be administered by a small plastic tube which will be introduced in a vein. After the child recovers from a urinary tract infection, he/she should try best to avoid such incidents in the future. The most important thing is to maintain cleanliness. The private parts should be washed everyday. It is best to take a shower or a bath daily. The child can use wipes to clean every time after passing urine. Children should never hold the urine. When they feel the urge, they should rush to the bathroom immediately. Fluids intake must be increased. Best fluids are water and cranberry juice. Water washes the bacteria out of the body and cranberry juice prevents another bacterial attack. Bubble baths aren’t good as it can irritate the urethra. Cotton underwear will absorb the sweat and body moisture, which will prevent bacterial growth. Underpants must be changed everyday. Warts in Kids Nearly fifty percent of children acquire warts at some time or the other. Warts, in the real sense are benign tumors which develop when keratinocytes, a kind of skin cell, is infected by the wart virus. There are many types of warts, the most common being rough bumps which appear on fingers and hands. Others are flat warts, genital warts, plantar warts, and molluscum contagiosum. The difference is based on the types, location, and painfulness of the wart. Common warts appear on fingers and hands and usually are painless. Plantar warts appear on the soles and are sometimes painful. Periungal warts show up around the finger and toe nail. Warts which appear on the face are flat warts. The symptoms of the common warts are that the skin develops an irregular surface and becomes rough. A dome starts to appear after a day after infection. A popular myth is that warts have roots, but they don’t. They grow on the epidermis, which is the top most layer of the skin. The black portion is because of broken veins and clotted blood. Warts come and go at various stages of life like childhood and teenage years. They usually go away by themselves. But some can be very painful, can spread quickly and some of them wont go away for many years. Such kind of warts should definitely be treated. The most common treatment among the pediatricians is cryotherapy. They will freeze the warts using liquid nitrogen. Cantharidin can also be applied, which is a painless treatment but can result in painful blisters at the end of the day. The minus point is that these treatments sometimes cause blistering and some warts won’t come off in one sitting. If the warts won’t still budge they are further treated with strong salicylic acid, intralesional immune- therapy, bleomycin, or a pulsed dye laser. Aldara can also be used in worst cases. Because of some treatments the warts grow to the end of the blister, which results in a bigger wart and some might even result in a scar. Besides other common wart treatments, the most well-known home remedy is duct tape. The affected area is covered with duct tape for about six days. If within that time period, the tape peels off, it should be reapplied. After the sixth day, the duct tape should be removed and the wart should be soaked in water and a pumice stone or emery board should be used to scrap the top skin of the wart. After this, the duct tape should be reapplied again within twenty four hours and the same procedure should be repeated until the whole wart disappears. This procedure takes at least two months to get rid of the wart completely. Some kids hesitate to put duct tape on parts which are visible, like fingers and legs. They can be encouraged by making them wear colored duct tape, other than grey. Many home wart freezing and removal kits are also available in the market whose help can be taken. Warts spread by direct contact with the wart or any material which the infected person has used like a used towel which has been contaminated. It is contagious and hence it is recommended to stay away from it at the very sight of it. All the cuts, rashes and bites should be cleaned regularly and should be kept covered. Another measure for prevention is wearing closed shoes in public places. Tonsils and Tonsillitis in Children Tonsils are two tissue balls located at the back of the throat. They play a vital role and are an important part of the body’s infection fighting mechanism by helping to fight germs and diseases. Tonsils deal with the germs before they reach mouth, throat, or sinuses. When these infection fighters are infected by viruses or bacteria, the condition is known as tonsillitis. The symptoms of tonsillitis are: as the time passes, eating, drinking and swallowing things become difficult. The pain can be accompanied with fever, earache and headache. The tonsils can be seen too. Just open the mouth wide open and the two masses of tissues at the either side of the throat are tonsils. They are usually dark pink in color, but when they get infected they turn red. A white or yellow coating can also be formed on the tonsils. There is an obvious change in voice as it becomes hoarser. The infected child can also develop bad breath. The infected kid can also get abdominal pain and can throw up what he eats. Tonsillitis is caused by both bacterial infection and viral infection. Bacterium known as streptococci causes infections which require special treatment. When the child gets tonsillitis, the parent should give lots of fluids to drink. Smooth food should be consumed to ease the pain caused by swallowing coarse, crunchy, and hard food. Food like soups, ice creams, applesauce, and gelatin are a good option. Spicy food should also be avoided. A humidifier or cool mist vaporizer can be placed in the child’s room as that will make breathing more easily. The kid must be given maximum rest and complete bed rest for at least two days is recommended. The bacteria and viruses cause tonsillitis to spread by sneezing, coughing or touching. The infected child must cover his/her mouth while coughing and sneezing. A disposable tissue can be used instead of a towel or handkerchief. Things such as utensils, towel, clothing, etc. of the sick kid should be separated so that the rest of the family doesn’t get affected. The doctor inspects the tonsils using a wooden stick known as tongue depressor, which will lower the tongue, so that the doctor can have a good look at the tonsils. After that the doctor checks the ears and nose. Heartbeat will be checked. If the doctor suspects strep, he/she will take a sample of saliva from the back of the throat using a long cotton swab, which can gag up the child a bit. After a day or two the results are received. Some doctors conduct a similar test known as rapid strep test, which give results within few minutes. Antibiotics are given when the test results come positive for strep. The bacteria get killed only when the course is completed and the correct dosage is taken at correct time. If virus is the cause of infection, there is no medicine for it and instead the body is capable of fighting the virus on its own. When the tonsils infection becomes frequent and the child finds it difficult to breath because of tonsillitis, it is recommended to get the tonsils removed. But it is the last resort after all other treatments do not do the trick, because tonsils are very important to the body’s immune system. The tonsils are taken out by surgery known as tonsillectomy. After the surgery, the child won’t suffer from sore throat and breathing problems anymore. The surgery won’t even leave any scars. A day before the surgery, the child cannot eat or drink, to keep the child from throwing up during the operation. The operation is very short and last for only twenty minutes. Because of the anesthesia, the child won’t feel a thing during the operation. And during the surgery, the tonsils are removed using an electric cautery, which is a burning tool, or a cutting tool. After the surgery, the child is given lots of fluids and after a day soft foods can also be given. Usually it takes about two weeks to completely recover from the surgery and the child can return back to normal activities.
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