Jumat, 14 Desember 2007

Frequent Headaches and Migraine in Children

Children who get frequent headaches and migraine attacks have chronic illness. Such children and their parents face problem to adjust with school and their rules. Extra preparations and steps should be taken to cope with such illness. Pediatric specialist in migraine and headaches exist should be consulted for treatment and other precautionary & preventive measures. Also the triggers vary from child to child, which should be recognized accurately.
Firstly, it is the strict attendance rule in most of the schools that children with chronic illness find it difficult to deal with. To add to it, majority of the schools have zero tolerance policy regarding medications, even including over the counter medicines. Reports of students getting expelled for merely carrying Advil in school with them are common. Prior to making appointment with the doctor, it is recommended that parents read the policy of the school the child is attending. It is good to ask questions before hand, than feeling sorry later. Some of the schools asks for letter or medical record as a proof, incase the student didn’t attend because of a health problem. Some schools consider sick leaves as regular leaves and in this case, the attendance gets affected greatly.
School nurses can be given the prescribed medicine so that they can give the medicine to the child at the required time. If this is the case, things such as medicine storage location and availability of substitute should be checked. Apart from not attending regularly, the child can sometimes be unable to take part in co-curricular activities especially physical education and outdoor recess. Other possible options should be discussed with the teacher. Usually a recommendation letter from the physician will do the needed. In all the cases, some kind of medical identification can be carried by the child at all times. If the child is attending an after school babysitter or program, directly after school, extra measures should be taken. The babysitter or program in charge should be told about the problem in advance. Their cooperation can be asked for timely administration of the medicine and for taking special care of the child. If the child himself is grown enough to understand the matter, the child should be educated about taking medications. They should also be made to understand that it is harmful to take medicines from any un-trustable source even if their fellow students do. Budge them to ask questions and clarify any of their fears of concerns.
Most of the children lack the ability to convey their problem properly. The situation is further aggravated because of different kinds of headaches. They can be related to chronic illness, tension, sinus or fever. Only diagnosis can bring out the correct problem. If the rate of headache becomes more frequent, like more than twice a month, doctor’s appointment should be taken instantly. Younger kids find it more difficult to explain the problem. If they become cranky, restless, irritating, tired, is having sleeping disorders and is not eating properly, a problem surely exists. Most of the children complain of headaches during exams because of increased stress. Seventy five percent of the children experience headaches because of tension. If so, stress management education, along with counseling, should be given to the kid.
Headaches can be an indication of other problems, too. So, thorough diagnosis is highly recommended. The child’s previous medical history provides important clue. Prior to the doctor’s appointment, notes can be made after referring the medical history. Maintaining a log about the child’s headache frequencies, pain location, time of occurrence, symptoms, etc. also helps. If not due to illness, headaches can also be a result of head injury. Sometimes, headache can be hereditary, like in the case of migraines.
Headaches can also be caused because of infections, vision problems, odd levels of blood pressure, neurological problems, muscle weakness, improper ear balance or serious problems such as tumor, blood clots, etc. If the doctor is not able to diagnose the problem, he/she can refer the child to a headache specialist or neurologist. Test such as CT scan or MRI are done if there is a serious problem. After the diagnosis, the doctor prescribes medication or will ask to take over the counter medicines. According to a study, children who face headaches and migraine take overdose of over the counter medicines for immediate pain reliving. In some of the cases, the parents are clueless about this situation. This practice is risky and mostly children above six years are involved in such cases.

Pains during Growth in Children

Growing pain is part and parcel of the growing phase in a child’s life. When the child stops growing so will the growing pain and when adolescence is reached, they disappear completely. Growing pain can occur between three to five years or eight to twelve years of age. Growing pains are usually experienced in the legs usually in the calves, in the area in front of thighs and behind the knees. The pain starts either in the afternoon or night, just before bedtime. The child can go to bed pain free, but can wake up in the middle of the night complaining of throbbing pain in the legs. But the good part is that these pains vanish by morning. About twenty five to forty percent of the children are known to experience growing pain.
Growing pains are experienced in the muscle region and not around the bones or joints. One of the major reasons of getting growing pains is because of the strenuous activities of the kids during the day. All the jumping around, running and climbing make the muscles tired. But no evidence has been collected which can prove that the growing pain is caused by bone growth. Growing pains are also known to be caused by spurt of growth. This happens because the tendons or the muscles are too tight and do not synchronize with the growing of the bones. As a results muscle spasms are caused which last for less than fifteen minutes. The child usually gets pain in both the legs and not just one. And usually, growing pains do not get accompanied with redness, swelling or fever. The pain should be over by morning and if it is still persisting after the awakening of the kid, the problem could be related to something else and more serious.
If the pain is unbearable, the parent or caretaker should administer pain relieving medications which are available over the counter such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Aspirin should not be given to children as they have a tendency to develop a very serious illness known as Reye Syndrome. Heating pads can be placed on the region that is hurting to ease the pain. Massage can also be given by the parent or the child can do stretching exercise to help the muscles relax. If the child develops fever, redness, swelling, tenderness, limitation in movement, or if the child limps while walking, the doctor should be approached. Before that the parent can do a little diagnosis of the intensity of the pain by feeling around the area and observing the pain experienced by the child. The pain shouldn’t be so intense that the child is abstained from normal routine such as walking, running or playing.
The doctor conducts the diagnosis of exclusion to understand the problem. According to this diagnosis, it is not made until all the conditions are checked before considering growing pains. The doctor studies the child’s medical history and conducts a physical examination. In some serious cases, the doctor advices to go for X-ray or blood test before the final decision is made.
Children can prevent the growing pains by doing stretching exercises on a daily basis. The exercise need not be complex. Even if the pain subsides, the exercise should be continued so as to keep the tendons and muscles relaxed and to adjust with the growth spurt. Fluids, when taken in good quantity, decrease the cramping. For this reason, the child should be given tonic water or quinine before going to bed.

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.

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.

Pneumonia in Children

Pneumonia is the infection of the either one lung or both. When both the lungs get infected it is known as double pneumonia. When the pneumonia is mild enough that the visit to the doctor can be avoided and the child can carry out daily activities normally, it is known as walking pneumonia.
The lungs are an important part of the respiratory system. The air which is breathed in contains oxygen, which is filtered by the lungs. This oxygen then is carried around the body with the help of blood which is passed from the breathing tubes by the alveoli. Capillaries or the minute blood vessels are surrounded by small air sacs known as alveoli. There are over six hundred million alveoli in the human body. The air which is taken in is supplied to the alveoli; the oxygen extracted from the air is dissolved in the blood. Then it is the job of the red blood cells to distribute the oxygen to all the body parts. Oxygen is vital in the proper functioning of the human body and insufficient supply of oxygen can damage the organs and sometimes can be life threatening. This functioning is disturbed when the lungs get infected by pneumonia.
Pneumonia does not allow the lungs to function properly, because the infection produces fluid which obstructs the alveoli. In turn the oxygen does not penetrate deep inside the lungs and lesser oxygen is supplied to the blood. The breathing is affected and the condition worsens when both the lungs get infected with pneumonia.
People of all ages from infants to old could get affected with pneumonia. It is a myth among people that getting wet makes the person catch pneumonia. But it is actually the virus or the bacteria which causes the infection. When a person infected with flu or cold faces a deterioration in his/her condition, he/she can be infected with pneumonia. This happens because the irritation caused by the flu or cold helps the pneumonia germs to get into the lungs easily and move around to spread the infection.
The virus or bacteria which cause pneumonia can cause damages, whose severity can depend on the health of the child. If the infection is caused by bacteria, the child will get sick very soon and can get high temperature fever accompanied with chills. Pneumonia caused by virus develops very slowly and it takes longer time to go away. The child can also experiences cough, chest pain, headache, and or muscle ache. It can also make it difficult to breath, so the child will start to breath faster which may make him cough out gloppy mucus. The child would have to totally abstain from eating.
When given the right treatment, the child can recover fully. The doctor will first examine the heartbeat and breathing with the help of the stethoscope. The stethoscope also helps to check the lungs, the sounds made by the lungs help to determine if it contains any fluids. Sounds such as crackling or bubbling are indications of pneumonia. Chest X-ray will be taken too. White patchy area will show fluid buildup. By looking at the X-ray, the doctor can also determine whether the infection is caused by bacteria or virus. If it is caused by bacteria, antibiotics will be prescribed. And if it is difficult for the child to swallow the medicine or to retain it inside, he/she will be injected with IV fluid. And if virus is responsible for the infection, antibiotics won’t work. Fever reducers, along with cough medicine, will be given in this case. The medicines will be of no use, if the child doesn’t take adequate rest and plenty of liquids.
Shots can be taken to prevent pneumonia. These series of shots are called pneumococcal. Regular flu shots can also prove helpful, especially for kids who have asthma or other kinds of lung infection. Rest and sleep also strengthens the immune system. Washing hands regularly can keep harmful germs at bay.

Abdominal Pain in Children

Tummy aches are one of the most frequently complained about problems in children. There are many causes attributed with it, and it is a challenge for the parent or the physician to find out the exact problem. Sometimes the pain requires immediate attention and can also be a case of emergency. The causes can be related to food, infections, poisoning, insect bites, etc.
Bacteria and viruses are responsible in case of abdominal pain due to infections. Gastroenteritis and stomach flu are some of the examples of infections that can cause stomach aches. Gastroenteritis is the inflammation and irritation of stomach and the gastrointestinal passage. Extra care must be taken by travelers, as the food and drinks can be contaminated at new locations and can lead to traveler’s getting diarrhea. Stomach pain due to viral infections ward off quickly, but bacterial infections demand the intake of antibiotics. In both the cases, some children recover very fast by vomiting and excreting. In case of diarrhea, excess drinking fluids should be given to the kid to avoid dehydration.
Food related stomach aches can be caused because of food poisoning, gas production, excess food ingestion and food allergies. Problems because of food poisoning are temporary and can cause bloating. Symptoms of food poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea. Usually these symptoms surface within two days of consumption of contaminated food. Depending on the severity chill, fever, bloody stools, or damage to the nervous system can follow. In case of a group of people who consumed the contaminated food, this situation is known as an outbreak. Over two hundred diseases are known to be transmitted via food. Food can be poisoned because of toxic agents or infective agents. Infective agents are parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Toxic agents are uncooked food, exotic foods, and poisonous mushrooms. Food can get contaminated because of handling by unclean workers at the local restaurant, too. Parents should check out the cleanliness and should visit a trusted restaurant.
Particular foods can cause the irritation, such as diary products can cause lactose intolerance. If this is the case, the child is allergic to certain food or drinks and swallowing even a small amount can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, and skin rash. Since these items are harmless otherwise, such kind of allergic reactions are known as hypersensitivity reaction. Sometimes the symptoms can be life threatening and are known as anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis.
Poisoning can also be due to overdose of medicines and even due to eating non-food stuffs. Insect bites such as black widow spider bite can also lead to pain in the abdomen. It can be accompanied with muscle cramps, weakness, nausea, tremor, vomiting and in severe case it can cause dizziness, faintness, respiratory problems, and chest pain. Also, the heart rate and blood pressure increases.
In very rare cases, abdominal pain can be due to appendicitis. This is a result of blockage and inflammation of tissues. Young kids have a higher rate if complications are considered and should be immediately rushed to the hospital. The pain starts slowly in the abdomen, specifically near the belly button. The pain shifts slowly to the right side of the lower abdomen within a time period of over twenty four hours. Clear symptoms are abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, fever and loss of appetite. Diabetes can also be a reason of abdominal pain. Small children usually curl up, cry and express pain through facial expression. Some kids will be reluctant to talk, but the parent should try to get clear explanation of the problem. Along with close monitoring of the symptoms, studying the location of pain, pain duration, nature of vomiting, and urinary problems will help. After that a pediatric should be consulted who can further refer to a gastroenterologist. Until help is reached, the child should be made to relax. Often, lying with face in downward direction can relieve pain due to gas. Incase of vomiting and diarrhea, fluids should be given constantly. Solid food should only be given when the child is comfortable about eating it.