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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.