Allergies
Chicken Pox
Colic
Constipation
Dehydration
Diarrhea
Ear Infection
Eczema
Fever
Food Poisoning
Iron Deficiency Anaemia
Malaria
Measles
Nappy Rash
Pneumonia
Ringworm


Allergies

Food allergies occur when a child’s immune system reacts to something eaten. The reaction could be immediate, causing an immediate food allergy, or it could take a bit longer to manifest, causing a delayed food allergy.

Common foods that children get allergic to are milk, eggs and nuts. Most of these allergies are outgrown by the age of 5.

Symptoms

Immediate food allergy

Moderate symptoms
• Swollen lips, eyes and face
• Runny or blocked nose
• Sneezing
• Watery eyes
• Nausea
• Vomiting and diarrhea
• Itchy mouth and throat
• Body rash

Severe symptoms

• Chest tightness
• Tongue and throat swelling
• Dizziness and loss of consciousness

Delayed food allergy

• Vomiting
• Constipation/diarrhea
• Tummy pain
• Frequent crying and discomfort
• Eczema
• Stunted growth

Home Treatment

• Keep a food diary to identify any relationship between child’s diet and allergic reactions. Then take the child off the food causing the allergy. However be sure to first discuss allergy suspicions with a pediatrician

Prevention

• Practice breastfeeding for at least one year, with exclusive breastfeeding being central for the first 6 months. Then in the 6th month, gradually introduce solids
• Single ingredient foods should be introduced one at a time so that the source of any allergic reaction can be easily traced and curbed immediately
• Delay introduction of cow milk to child’s diet until after the 12th month
• Delay introduction of nuts to child’s diet until after the 36th month

Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

• As soon as you suspect an allergy (especially in cases of severe symptoms) because allergy symptoms resemble that of other medical conditions. Hence it is important you confirm it is actually an allergy.

*’Allergic tendencies’ and not ‘allergies’ are inherited. If allergic tendencies are common in your family, try breastfeeding your baby for a minimum of 6 months and whilst at it, don’t eat allergenic foods like milk, eggs, fish and nuts. For formula fed kids, stick to hydrolysate formula; which is formula made up of proteins that are more or less not be detected by the immune system because they are very broken down.

OTHER ALLERGIES

There are other allergies which may not show up till a child turns about 18 months. They occur when a child reacts to inhaled or touched environmental allergens (such as dust, pollens, molds, pets, cockroaches, etc).
Treatment and prevention includes reducing child’s exposure to these allergens by:

• Covering mattresses and pillows with dust proof covers
• Avoiding feather pillows
• Using hypoallergenic laundry detergent
• Cleaning the home regularly
• Avoiding carpets
• Banning smoking and pets from the home

 

Chicken Pox

This is a mild common illness which most children have at some point in their life. It is so common in kids that over 90% of adults are immune to it because they have already had it as a child. It appears as a rash of spots that look like blisters. Some children are lucky to have only a few spots while others have spots all over their bodies, even in funny places like the mouth and nose. However the most common places where these clusters of spots tend to appear are behind the ears, on the face, scalp, chest, belly, arms and legs.

 Causes

  • Body to body contact with infected person
  • Droplet from infected person’s sneeze or cough

Symptoms

  • Small red spots which form blisters at the top and become very itchy (In 1-2 days, the fluid in blisters will dry up and the crusting skin will fall off 1-2 weeks later)
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unwell feeling

 Home Treatment

There is no cure for chicken pox. The virus simply clears on its own. However in order to ease the discomfort that comes with the symptoms,

  • Give paracetamol to bring down the fever and deal with pains
  • Use soothing creams like calamine lotion to reduce itchiness
  • Dress child comfortable

Prevention

  • There are chicken pox vaccines. However in spite of the vaccines, some kids still catch the pox. In such cases, the symptoms will most likely be mild

Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • If child is less than 1 month old and is showing symptoms
  • If child has a poor immune system due to illnesses like leukaemia, sickle cell anaemia, etc
  • If child is taking certain medications such as steroids or immune-suppressing medication
  • If child has other severe skin conditions.
  • If skin surrounding blister becomes red and painful
  • If child shows dehydration signs
  • If child has breathing problems
  • If child becomes weak or drowsy
  • If child goes into convulsion
  • If child is in pain
  • If child is unable drink any fluid due to rash in mouth
  • If rash bleeds into skin

* Chicken pox is infectious 1-2 days before rash starts until about 5-6 days after rash starts. Symptoms don’t show up till 1-3 weeks after contact with infected person and rashes formed won’t leave scars except scratched. Chicken pox lasts for about 7-10 days

 

Colic

A healthy baby that cries inconsolably, for no obvious reason, is said to have colic. Usually a colic baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, more than 3 times a week, for more than 3 weeks. Colic occurs in up to 25% of babies. 

Causes

Its exact cause is unknown but here are what is commonly suggested to be the cause of colic:

  • Gas
  • Immature digestive system
  • Allergies
  • Temperament
  • Still developing nervous system
  • Heartburn due to stomach acid and milk flowing back into the windpipe

Symptoms

  • Cries that begin suddenly and usually after feeding
  • Cries that are loud and continuous, extending for 1-4 hours
  • Cries that are accompanied with curled toes, clenched hands and legs drawn to the abdomen
  • Prominent or distended tummy
  • Cries that tend to begin late in the afternoon/early evening

Home Treatment

  • Switch to another cow milk, soy milk or predigested hypoallergenic formula
  • When breastfeeding, ensure baby has proper grip on the nipples to ensure gas is not taken in as well
  • In order to ease his discomfort, try recreating the comforting womb atmosphere by swaddling baby, shushing in his ear and rocking him. Also don’t underestimate the power of your touch in soothing him. Massage baby gently with your hands
  • Change baby’s position. Lying baby face down (instead of face up) may relieve gas in tummy
  • Change bottle nipples if it allows baby take in gas when sucking
  • If you are breastfeeding avoid milk, caffeine and herbal supplements. Also avoid gas producing food like onions, cabbage and beans
  • Burp baby after every feed by giving gentle thumps on his back while holding his head over your shoulder or lying him face down across your laps or sitting him up with your arm supporting his chest and neck
  • Managing a colicky baby can be very stressful. So when necessary take a break and get someone else to soothe him 

Prevention

  • Don’t over stimulate baby
  • While feeding, hold baby upright to avoid air swallow
  • Rather than feeding baby large portions at once, feed smaller portions at a time
  • Burp baby after every feed

Visit/call the Pediatrician…

  • If colic is suspected in order to confirm it is colic, and not some other ailment
  • If child is not gaining weight and not eating
  • If colic extends beyond the 4th month
  • If colic is accompanied with fever and/or a painful (instead of fussy) cry

*Colic usually begins when baby is 2-3 weeks. It peaks at about 2 months, subsides at about 3 months and disappears in about the 4th month

 

Constipation

This occurs when a child has difficult bowel movements which occur less frequently than normal bowel movements.

 What are normal bowel movements?

Normal is different for every child. So, it is a change in your child’s ‘normal’ that suggests a problem. However, generally…

Breastfed babies often pass out runny, yellow poops because breast milk digests better than formula milk. Newborn breastfed babies are likely to poop about 3 to 4 times per day and it is not uncommon to see some older breastfed babies poop only once a week.

Formula fed babies are likely to poop 2 to 3 times per day, depending on the type of formula. Some soy and cow milk formula cause harder bowel movements while hypoallergenic formula is likely to cause looser bowel movements.

As a child grows and starts to eat different kinds of solids, his poop is likely to change in colour, consistency and smell (depending on what his diet consists of). It also becomes less frequent and looks more well formed, just like an adult’s poop. Note that some solid feeds have been seen to pass out unchanged. So don’t be surprised to see small chunks of food in a dirty nappy.

By 2 years old, the frequency of most children’s poops is likely to be cut down to one or two per day.

Causes

Though there are rare underlying medical problems which cause constipation, common causes are:

  • Transition to solid diets
  • Insufficient water or fibre intake
  • Child’s refusal to go to the toilet because he is caught up in an activity, has had a previously painful toilet experience which made his anus sore or is not comfortable using unfamiliar toilets

 Symptoms

  • Difficult straining when pooping. However note that many infants’ bowel movements are accompanied with strain due to weak abdominal muscles. So if the appearance of the poop is normal (inspite of the strain), then there is no cause for concern
  • Blood stained poop
  • Hard stools; either very large or pellet like poops
  • Infrequent pooping (when compared to what’s normal for child)
  • Irritability and poor appetite
  • Tummy ache
  • Sick feeling
  • Restless signs which indicate need to use the toilet

 Home Treatment

  • Switch to a more intestinal friendly formula
  • Give smaller servings of formula to help intestine digest food better
  • Serve a fibre rich barley or oat cereal instead of rice cereal
  • Delay introduction of solids
  • For children between 1 and 6, serve 120 – 180ml of 100 percent apple or pear juice
  • Serve high fibre whole grains and vegetables like sweet potatoes and beans
  • Encourage child to drink enough fluids (Note that enough does not necessarily mean unnecessary large amounts)
  • If the above doesn’t work, avoid milk products for 2 weeks and observe what happens
  • Stop toilet training for 2 – 3 months and offer positive reinforcement as regards the use of the toilet

 Prevention

  • Encourage regular toilet use especially after meals because this is the time when there is a natural urge to use the toilet
  • Offer positive reinforcement during toilet training
  • Encourage child to form the habit of drinking enough fluids
  • Incorporate a fibre rich diet

 Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • If child doesn’t pass out first stool within first 48 hours of life
  • If child is less than 4 months and exhibiting any the listed symptoms
  • If there is still no bowel movement, 4 hours after treatment
  • If there are repeated constipation episodes
  • If there is blood in child’s poop
  • If child is losing weight and refusing to eat
  • If constipation is accompanied with vomiting and dark, smelly pee
  • If child has a swollen, stretched tummy
  • If child has sores near the anus
  • If child is showing signs of weakness

*The iron contained in formula is too small to cause constipation

 

Dehydration

Dehydration is said to occur when a child’s body lacks enough body fluids. It is common in children because they are prone to lose fluids easily.

 Causes

  • Excessive peeing due to untreated diabetes
  • Viral infections which cause fever, vomiting etc
  • Bacterial infections which cause vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Sores in mouth which make it painful to eat or drink
  • Inadequate intake of fluids

 Symptoms

  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry diapers
  • Sunken soft spot on the front of the head (for babies specifically)
  • Tearless cries
  • Inactivity
  • Irritability

 Home Treatment

  • Give child ORS. ORS is an inexpensive mix of salt, sugar and water needed to rehydrate the body. It can be prepared at home (6 level teaspoons of sugar + ½ level teaspoon of salt + 1 litre of boiled water) or bought from a pharmacy. Note that you cannot harm a child by giving too much ORS. So if you are unsure how much of it your child actually kept down, an extra dose wouldn’t hurt.
  • Encourage child to keep drinking

Prevention

It is quite hard preventing the diseases that cause dehydration. It is therefore important to encourage child to form the habit of drinking sufficient fluids. Also familiarize yourself with the danger signs of dehydration in case of an emergency

 Visit/call Paediatrician…

  • If child’s mouth is dry
  • If child is crying without releasing tears
  • If child does not pee for over 8 hours
  • If child has sunken eyes, blood in stool, scanty and deep yellow urine, abdominal pain or continuous high fever
  • If child’s vomiting goes on for over 24 hours
  • If child is peeing much more than usual
  • If pinched skin of child does not bounce back quickly to normal position
  • If the top of child’s head begins to sink in (This applies to babies)

*The above makes up the danger signs of dehydration

 

Diarrhea

A child is said to have diarrhea when he has more bowel movements than usual and lets out stools that are less formed and more watery. It is very common in kids because they are in the habit of putting their hands and other objects (which are often not 100% clean) into their mouths. This may take a toll on their still developing immune system and sensitive tummy.

Causes

  • Medication that includes antibiotics
  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Too much fruit or fruit juice
  • Sensitivity in child’s tummy
  • Change in child’s diet or mom’s diet (for breastfeeding babies)

 Symptoms

  • More stools all of a sudden
  • Very watery stools
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain

 Home Treatment

  • Give Oral Rehydration Solution. ORS is an inexpensive mix of salt, sugar and water needed to rehydrate the body. It can be prepared at home (6 level teaspoons of sugar + ½ level teaspoon of salt + 1 litre of boiled water) or bought from a pharmacy. Note that you cannot harm a child by giving too much ORS. So if you are unsure how much of it your child actually kept down, an extra dose will still be okay. However ORS shouldn’t be used for more than 2-3 days in treating diarrhea
  • Lots of fluids should be encouraged in children with diarrhea. For babies, breast milk comes highly recommended. For older kids, cow milk should be avoided because it could make diarrhea worse
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after every diaper change and before feeding child
  • Avoid food which makes diarrhea worse (such as fruit juice and carbonated drinks) because they don’t have the right amount of water, salt and sugar
  • Encourage child to keep drinking both water and other liquids because water alone could cause low blood sugar or sodium level in child’s blood

 Prevention

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing or serving food and after changing nappy, helping child use the toilet, using the toilet yourself, cleaning child’s nose (or yours) or doing any form of cleaning
  • Wash child’s hands with soap and water often
  • Keep your environment clean and add disinfectant to the water used in mopping the floor
  • Breastfeeding should be done for as long as possible (Breastfeeding is known to prevent diarrhea)
  • Ensure drinking water is clean and boiled

 Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • If continuous vomiting, fever or stomach ache accompanies diarrhea
  • If stool has blood or mucus in it
  • If diarrhea is severe and lasts for more than 2 days
  • If diarrhea keeps coming and going
  • If child is losing weight
  • If child is refusing to eat
  • If child has scanty and deep yellow urine
  • If child is showing any of the following signs of dehydration:
  • Has not peed in 6 hours
  • Sunken eyes
  • Tearless cries
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Pinched skin that refuses to return back to its original shape
  • Sunken fontanelle (i.e the soft spot on top of the head begins to sink
  • Inactivity and irritability

*Avoid anti-diarrheal drugs because they could be dangerous

 

Ear Infection

This is an inflammation of the middle ear which occurs when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. Most kids will have at least one ear infection by their third birthday.

 Cause

  • Colds are often breeding ground for the bacteria that causes ear infection

 Symptoms

  • Tugging at ear (However, know that many infants tug at their ear for fun or out of habitual practice. Hence tugging at the ear without other symptoms is unlikely to be an ear infection)
  • Cold symptoms (Without a cold, it is unlikely child has an ear infection because more often than not, colds precede ear infections)
  • Fussiness
  • Fever
  • Fluid draining from ear
  • Trouble responding to quiet sounds or hearing
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unwillingness to lie flat
  • Clumsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of balance
  • Irritability

 Home Treatment

  • To relieve ear pain, put several drops of warm olive oil or vegetable oil into the ear and apply a warm cloth to it. But if liquid or pus is draining out of the ear, don’t adopt this treatment method
  • Let child sleep with sore ear up so that gravity helps drain the fluid from the eardrum
  • Try to keep nose clear during colds
  • Most uncomplicated ear infections will heal on their own, in 4-7 days. However antibiotics may be administered, if prescribed by the doctor. With antibiotics, relief comes faster in 1-2 days and possibilities of complications spreading to the brain or bones are reduced.

 Prevention

  • Wash hands regularly to prevent germs from spreading
  • Keep breastfeeding because  it is said to limit the risk of ear infection
  • As soon as possible, wean child off the pacifier because kids who use pacifiers beyond 12 months are more prone to ear infection
  • Don’t allow child to lie flat while feeding
  • Cigarette smoke irritates the child’s nasal passage, so keep child away from smokers
  • Boost child’s immunity by including vegetables and fruits in his diet
  • Control allergies which may contribute to child’s runny nose and subsequently infection. Also, in case of nasal congestions, keep the nose clear by using steam, saline drops or suctioning. Do these because allergies and nasal congestions are not only breeding grounds for ear infections but they also prevent the treated ears from getting drained

 Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • If you suspect an ear infection (especially if there is fluid like pus or blood coming out of the ear) because there is need to professionally examine the ear and determine the extent of infection before starting treatment
  • If child experiences sudden hearing loss, is in severe pain or has a sustained/recurring fever during treatment
  • If fluid doesn’t drain out of the ear in 3 months (often fluids should drain out anytime from about 2 weeks to 3 months)
  • When you are through with prescribed treatment in order to ensure infection has cleared or is clearing and middle ear fluid is draining out

 

Eczema

Eczema is an itchy skin condition that often first occurs within the first five years of a child’s life. Though it normally doesn’t go beyond childhood or adolescence, there are cases where it lasts into adulthood.

 Causes

Its exact cause is not known but medical speculated causes include:

  • Gene variations
  • Irritants, such as pollens, from the environment
  • Abnormal functioning of the immune system
  • Bacteria that blocks the sweat glands
  • Dry irritable skin

 Symptoms

  • Itchy red patches on the face, scalp, hands, feet, ankles, wrists, neck, etc
  • Small, raised bumps
  • Thickened, dry, scaly skin
  • Sensitive, swollen skin when scratched

 Possible triggers of eczema

Substances that trigger

  • Wool or man-made fibres, makeup, perfume, soaps, smoke from cigarette, dust, sand, etc

Conditions that trigger

  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Allergic reactions
  • Sweat

Environments that trigger

  • Prolonged exposure to water
  • Absence of moisturizer
  • Long, hot baths
  • Dry weather
  • Sudden temperature changes, from hot to cold or vice versa

 Home Treatment

Though there are no cures for eczema, most children’s eczema, becomes less severe with time. To effectively manage eczema…

  • Use an anti inflammatory medication to treat inflammation
  • Bath child with warm water for about 10 minutes, twice a day
  • Limit the use of soaps, detergents and bath additives which could irritate the skin further
  • Avoid the use of rough washcloths and scrubbers
  • Moisturize the skin with a thick layer of ointment or cream immediately after bathing. Application of the cream or ointment should be with a downward stroke (Don’t rub up and down). Lotions are not recommended.
  • Avoid wool and nylon clothing. Stick to cotton

 Prevention

There is no known way to prevent eczema but the following will help keep irritants at bay:

  • Good skin care including a daily bath and moisturizer application twice every day
  • Note what triggers eczema in child and avoid them as much as possible
  • Treat eczema patches with medications as soon as they are noticed in order to prevent them from spreading and getting worse

Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • If eczema is accompanied with a fever
  • If skin is looking infected and releasing pus. Note that infection often comes from scratching the itchy patches

 Facts about eczema

  • It is not contagious
  • It runs in the family
  • Children with eczema tend to develop allergies
  • Though kids with eczema often have food allergies, eczema is not an allergy
  • Children who live in colder climates and children born to older women are more likely to develop eczema

 

Fever

A fever is any temperature rise above 37.5C. It could be acute (last for 7 days or less) or chronic (last for over 7 days). It is very common in children.

The height of the temperature is not necessarily an indication of how serious the cause of the fever is. Some minor illnesses cause a high temperature rise while some major illnesses cause a minor temperature rise.

 Causes

Acute

  • Respiratory infection often brought on by the cold virus
  • Digestive tract infection
  • Bacterial infection of the ear, sinus or urinary tract
  • Chickenpox, malaria and other illnesses (Most illnesses are often accompanied with fevers)
  • Side effect of some drugs or vaccination shots

Chronic

  • Prolonged or back to back illnesses
  • Other infectious or non-infectious illnesses like hepatitis, pneumonia, heart infections, leukemia, lymphomas etc

 Symptoms

  • Irritability and fussiness
  • Withdrawnness
  • Body feels warm or hot when touched
  • Continuous crying
  • Rapid breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more

Home treatment

  • Bring down the temperature by
    • Giving child paracetamol (as prescribed on the pack or in line with the doctor’s prescription)
    • Dressing child lightly (but don’t over-expose in order to avoid other illnesses like cold and pneumonia)
    • Giving child a lukewarm or sponge bath
    • Keeping the room comfortable. It shouldn’t be too hot or too cold
  • Keep child hydrated by encouraging the intake of lots of fluids. However don’t force a child without an appetite to eat
  • Encourage child to get lots of rest

*Fevers are not necessarily a cause for panic. They may just be a harmless indication that the body is fighting an infection. So, stay calm as you follow the listed steps towards bringing down the temperature.

 Prevention

The best way to prevent a fever is to prevent the illnesses that cause fever by:

  • Washing your hands with soap and water before handling child’s food and after changing child’s diaper
  • Giving paracetamol to child before and after immunization shots
  • Serving child a healthy diet which includes fruits and vegetables
  • Ensuring child gets the proper amount of sleep
  • Covering your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing (and ensuring others do the same) in order to avoid the spread of viral diseases, such as the common cold, etc

 Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • If a child of less than 3 months has a fever
  • If a 3 – 6 months old child has a temperature of over 38.3C that doesn’t come down readily
  • If a child of over 6 months has a temperature of over 39.4C that doesn’t come down readily
  • If temperature lasts for more than 48 hours
  • If temperature keeps coming back for up to one week (even if temperature is not very high, still see the doctor)
  • If temperature is accompanied by other disturbing symptoms like continuous crying, inability to walk, difficult breathing, etc
  • If child is still uncomfortable even after the fever goes
  • If child shows signs of dehydration:
  • Not peed in 6 hours
  • Sunken eyes
  • Tearless cries
  • Dry, sticky mouth
  • Pinched skin that refuses to return back to its original shape
  • Sunken fontanelle (i.e the soft spot on top of the head begins to sink)
  • Inactivity and irritability

 

Food Poisoning

This is caused when food or water becomes contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals. Under developed immune system make kids more prone to food poisoning. 

Causes

  • Unhygienic handling of food

Symptoms

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Tummy pain
  • Fever

Home Treatment

  • Encourage sufficient intake of fluids
  • Practice hygienic handling of foods

Prevention

  • Cover sores and cuts with water proof plaster before touching food
  • Don’t prepare food if you are vomiting or have diarrhea
  • Wash hands after using the toilet
  • Change tea towels regularly
  • Keep all surfaces clean
  • Cook food and warm food well. Food must be piping hot, right through the middle
  • Don’t reheat food more than once
  • Cool down leftovers quickly and refrigerate
  • Wash hands after touching raw foods
  • Don’t chop ‘ready to eat’ and ‘raw’ foods on same surface
  • Separate raw, cooked and ready to eat foods
  • Don’t feed baby from a jar because of the transfer of bacteria from the mouth to the spoon to the jar
  • Honey shouldn’t be given to children under one because they can harbor a kind of bacterium
  • For children under one, salads, unpasteurized juice and dairy products should be avoided
  • Raw or undercooked fish, meat or poultry, vegetables and partially cooked egg should be avoided

Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • If child under 6 months is showing symptoms
  • If there is blood in vomit or stool
  • If vomiting goes on for more than 1 – 2 days and stooling, more than 3 – 4 days
  • If food poisoning is accompanied with severe tummy pain, high fever, dehydration, drowsiness or rashes

 

Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Anaemia is when the blood lacks sufficient red blood cells.  There are several forms of anaemia. However, the common type in kids is the iron deficiency anaemia which is likely to show up any time from the 4 – 6 months. This coincides with the time when full term infants run out of iron stored up from mum. Kids less than 2 are prone to this type of anaemia.

 Causes

  • Inability of the body to absorb iron
  • Slow blood loss over a long period of time
  • Poor iron diet
  • Infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, etc
  • Hereditary (this is rare)

Symptoms

  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Pale skin and lips

Home Treatment

  • Give child an iron rich diet
  • Iron supplement will probably be needed. However this must only be given at the recommendation of the doctor because too much iron can cause poisoning

Prevention

  • Breastfeed child for at least 7 months
  • Depending on child’s age, diet should include an iron rich formula, iron fortified infant cereal and iron rich food like poultry, fish, rice and bread
  • Low iron milk like cow, goat or soy must not be given in child’s first year (*cow milk can prevent absorption of iron)
  • Encourage Vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables which will help the body absorb iron

Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • As soon as anaemia is suspected and a blood test will probably be run to confirm the suspected diagnosis. Then, doctor recommended treatment can begin

 

Malaria

Though more common in the hot, tropical areas, malaria is a mosquito borne disease that can also occur in temperate climates. Breeding grounds for mosquitoes are stagnant waters and warm, humid weather. 

Causes

  • The biting of a child by an infected mosquito (carrying the plasmodium species parasite)
  • Transmission of the malaria parasite through blood transfusion, organ donation, shared needles or from mother to child.

Symptoms

  • Gradual or sudden rise in temperature (Usually this fever has a cyclic pattern of showing up every 48 to 72 hours: when the fever comes, it goes after a while, bringing on the chills and sweats. Then the fever returns again and the cycle continues the temperature drops, chills and sweats)
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry cough
  • Muscle pain

Home Treatment

  • Give child anti malarial drug. However this drug must only be taken after the doctor has run tests and confirmed it’s malaria
  • Bring down the temperature by
    • Giving child paracetamol (as prescribed on the pack or in line with the doctor’s prescription)
    • Dressing child lightly (but don’t over-expose in order to avoid other illnesses like cold and pneumonia)
    • Giving child a lukewarm or sponge bath
    • Keeping the room comfortable. It shouldn’t be too hot or too cold
  • Keep child hydrated by encouraging the intake of lots of fluids. However don’t force a child without an appetite to eat
  • Encourage child to get lots of rest

Prevention

Protect child from mosquitoes by

  • Installing window screens
  • Using insect repellants
  • Placing mosquito nettings over the bed
  • Keeping the child in a screened or airconditioned place, when it is dark outside
  • Dressing the child in protective clothing; long sleeve tops and trousers
  • Dressing child in light coloured clothes as dark colors attract mosquitoes
  • Using flying insect sprays indoors; especially around the sleeping areas

Visit/Call the Pediatrician …

  • As soon as malaria is suspected because there is a need to run lab tests to confirm the diagnosis before treatment begins. The sooner treatment begins the better so that the malaria doesn’t bring the child totally down before recovery sets in
  • If child does not respond to malaria treatment

 

Measles

Measles is a contagious infection that causes rashes all over the body. Measles cannot be caught twice. 

Causes

  • Body to body contact with infected person
  • Droplet from infected person’s sneeze and cough

Symptoms

Initial symptoms

  • High fever
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Dry cough
  • Inflamed eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Aches
  • Loss of appetite

Later symptom

  • Rash made of large, flat blotches that often flow one into anther

*Measles can be caught from an infected person anytime from 4 days before rash starts until 4 days after rash starts. Initial symptoms show up about 10 days after child becomes infected. The rash itself appears 2 – 4 days after the initial symptoms and lasts for about a week

 

Home Treatment

There is no specific medicine to kill the virus which is bound to run its course. Hence, treatment is all about easing the discomfort that comes with the symptoms

  • Encourage child to rest
  • Encourage child to drink lots of fluid to prevent dehydration
  • Let child stay away from people to prevent spreading it
  • Administer paracetamol to treat fever and kill any pain

*Antibiotics are not given except to treat a secondary bacterial infection

Prevention

  • There are vaccination shots which can be taken to prevent measles

 Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • To confirm it is measles and not some other illness
  • If any of the following occur during treatment: drowsiness, convulsion, dehydration, difficult breathing

 

Nappy Rash

Nappy rash is an inflammation of the skin that often doesn’t extend beyond the nappy area. No matter how well cared for a baby is, he is likely to get a nappy rash at one point or the other in his life.

 Causes

  • Long contact of baby’s bum with pee and/or poo
  • Sensitive skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Some baby wipes, soaps and detergents

 Symptoms

  • Red, moist rashes or patches in the nappy area
  • Blistering, peeling skin in the nappy area

 Home Treatment

  • Apply a doctor or pharmacist recommended nappy rash cream or ointment on the fully cleaned and dried skin of child
  • As soon as child pees or poops, change the nappy.
  • Avoid using wipes that have alcohol or perfume because they may irritate the skin further. Better still, until the rash clears, use water and a soft cloth to clean the soiled nappy area
  • Ensure the bum is fully dried before wearing on a new nappy
  • Wash your hands before and after changing nappy
  • Use absorbent nappies which will keep the skin dry
  • Wear nappy on loosely in order to let sufficient air flow around bum. If possible, let child go to sleep without a nappy
  • Always keep the bum clean and dry

 Prevention

  • Change soiled and wet nappies as soon as possible
  • Clean bum thoroughly when changing nappy
  • During nappy change, wait a while for bum to fully dry before putting on a new nappy
  • Apply barrier creams (such as petroleum jelly) on the bum

 Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • If the rash is noticed as early as in the first 6 weeks after birth
  • If the rash is accompanied with a fever that doesn’t go down readily
  • If the rash is in form of pimples, bumps or sores that have pus in them
  • If the rash doesn’t get better after 3 days
  • If the rash extends to areas beyond the nappy area such as the abdomen, face, etc

 

Pneumonia

This is an infection of the lungs which in the past was considered very dangerous. However with the right medical treatment readily available today, many kids survive pneumonia

 Causes

  • Bacterial infections
  • Mostly a follow up to viral upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold

 Symptoms

  • Medium or high fever which may cause sweats and chills
  • Coughing
  • Continuous, fast, labored breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inactivity
  • Crying
  • Widening of nostrils
  • Chest pain, during and/or in between coughs
  • Vomiting, during and/or in between coughs

 Home Treatment

Suspected pneumonia cases must first and foremost be reported to a pediatrician due to its sensitivity. Following the medical visit, you will most likely be asked to…

  • Give paracetamol for the fever
  • Give antibiotics if the pneumonia is caused by bacteria

*Note that if the pneumonia is caused by a virus, you will be required to treat only the fever because viral induced pneumonia will clear on its own

Prevention

  • There are pneumonia vaccines which can be administered, especially if child is already battling diseases, like the sickle cell anaemia, which weaken the immune system
  • Take preventive measures against upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold

 Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • As soon as pneumonia is suspected because it is a sensitive illness that needs expertise intervention for proper treatment
  • If fever persists, even after antibiotics medication has been completed

 

Ringworm

This is a common skin infection that has nothing to do with worms. It comes in the form of round, scaly (and sometimes itchy) patches on the skin.

Causes

  • Fungus entering body through broken skin
  • Direct skin contact of child with an infected person or pet
  • Sharing of objects like towels and hairbrushes.

Symptoms

Scalp ringworm

  • Itchy scalp
  • Patchy hair loss
  • Small patch of scaly skin on scalp
  • Small pus filled sore on scalp

Body ringworm

  • Ring like, itchy rash that looks healthy on the inside but irritated around the ring. This ring multiplies, grows bigger or merges with other rings. Blister or pus filled sore could form around the ring

Foot ringworm (athlete foot)

  • Itchy, dry, flaky rash between toes

Home Treatment

  • Apply anti fungal cream on the affected area after washing and drying it. Let cream be applied not just on the ring, but also about half a cm beyond the ring.
  • Once rash has started to clear, keep using cream for up to two weeks to prevent  re-infection
  • Keep child’s nails short to prevent scratching
  • Take pet to the vet to be sure it is not infected

Prevention

  • Maintain a good personal hygiene for child
  • Discourage child from sharing personal items like towels
  • Child’s towel and clothing must be regularly and thoroughly washed

Visit/Call the Pediatrician…

  • If child is allergic to anti fungal cream
  • If child shows no improvement after 4 weeks of treatment
  • If child has ringworm on the scalp because it will have to be treated with anti fungal tablets and not cream

(Picture Courtesy: dmu.edu)