Thursday, March 24, 2016

Conjunctivitis or Pinkeye in Children

Conjunctivitis or pinkeye is a common problem in school going kids. The eyes become red, itchy, and swollen. There can also be a discharge of gooey liquid from the eye which can be of the color white, clear, green or yellow. Conjunctivitis is also known as pinkeye because the eye’s white part turns pink or red. When the child experiences itchiness and redness in the eyes, he/she should inform the elders as soon as possible, as pinkeye is very contagious and spreads very easily.



It is possible that only one eye can get affected by conjunctivitis, while the other eye dose not. In usual cases, both the eyes get infected. Conjunctivitis doesn’t hurt usually, but the eyes sure do itch badly. There can be a sensation similar to an eyelash or tiny particle getting in the eye, which can be very annoying. The infection lasts for about a week and usually goes away by itself. But if the itching is very troublesome, it should be treated with medicine. Some children can have conjunctivitis accompanied with ear infections, as the bacteria responsible for causing pinkeye is also responsible for causing ear infection.

Conjunctivitis is caused by virus or bacteria. Viruses which cause conjunctivitis are also responsible for cold. Bacteria which cause conjunctivitis also cause ear infection. Conjunctivitis spreads by touching. If a person touches the hand of the infected person, who has recently touched his eyes, also gets the infection. And since infected children deal with their parents and children, they also pose the risk of getting the infection. The prevention in this case is to wash hands often with warm water and disinfecting soap. Conjunctivitis when caused by bacteria & virus, and is contagious is known as infectious conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can also be caused due to allergies or because of entry of irritating foreign body into the eyes. Conjunctivitis caused by this medium is not contagious.    

A doctor should be approached upon if the itchiness is very irritating. The doctor will check the eyes for redness and liquid discharge. The doctor would ask about the encounter with any friend or known person who seemed to have pinkeye or whether the conjunctivitis was caused because of some allergy or entry of foreign object into the eye. The doctor can also check the ears for the possibility of ear infection. If the pinkeye is caused because of bacterial infection, the doctor will recommend antibiotic eye ointment or drops. Usually infants are given eye ointment, whereas children and adults are given eye drops. The parents should put the drops or ointment into the child’s eyes four to five times a day for nearly seven days or so. The dosage and timings should be maintained to get rid of the infection completely.

If the conjunctivitis is caused due to virus, there is nothing much the antibiotics can do. And if the pinkeye is caused by allergies or any foreign object, the doctor can recommend special eye drops to deal with the allergy symptoms. Warm water can also be splashed on the eyes to ease the itching. A cool or warm washcloth can be used to clean the discharge. Parents can clean the eyes carefully with cotton balls and warm water and remove the crusty stuff which is formed at the ends of the eyes. The towels and washcloths used for cleaning should head straight to the laundry so that the infection doesn’t spread to other family members.


Constipation in Children

Constipation is a condition of improper bowel movement. Usually the child experiences pain and has a hard time passing dry and hard stool. In normal condition there is no pain while passing the stool and it has a soft texture. The bowel movement is also regular. A child having constipation not only finds it difficult to pass stool, but at times will feel the urge to pass and when he goes to the toilet, he cannot relive himself.



The digestive system is responsible from the intake of the food to the smooth passage of waste. The food or fluids are consumed from the mouth, which heads towards the stomach via the food pipe. After the stomach treats the food with acid, it passes on to the small intestines and then to the large intestines, also known as bowels. The final stage of food digestion is the outlet through of the waste through the anus and rectum. During the whole processing, the body parts absorb nutrients and water from the food supplied to them. The left over matter comes out as waste.

It is a myth among some people who say that an individual is constipated if he or she doesn’t pass stool on a daily basis. But the truth is that the bathroom habit differs from one individual to other. So if constipation is to be checked the regular pattern of bathroom habit of that particular individual must be checked and the comparisons must not be made with the other.

Other than not passing stool regularly, the child feels full most of the times and is a little uncomfortable. The belly can also feel stretched because of the full feeling. The child makes great effort to pass and the experience is very painful. Even after passing, the child may feel the urge of passing more stools. Because of the hard stool, it cause small tears in the anus skin and there will be little blood on the toilet paper. The child should immediately tell this to his parents, who can take care of the situation immediately.  Some kids who have a worse condition will pass watery stool, something similar to diarrhea, and mucus along with the hard stool.

Constipation is becoming more and more widespread because of the unhealthy diet pattern followed by most of us today. With the trend of fast food, other fatty, starchy and sugary foods, children aren’t getting the required amount of fiber, which in turn slows down the bowels. It is the responsibility of the parents to make their children eat fiber enriched foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Along with eating food rich with fiber, it is also a must to drink enough fluids. Water is the best fluid for this condition. Fluids help to soften the stool and allow smooth passage within the intestine. Insufficient intake of fluids makes the stool dry and hard. Children are becoming more stagnant because of video games, internet and television, which are leaving them with little or no time for physical exercise. Exercise helps the food to move through the digestive system. Lesser active play time and physical activity is also a major cause of constipation. Medicines should be avoided and should be taken only when doctor recommends them.

Stress and anxiety can play havoc over the digestive system. School going kids are usually stressed out because of the homework, assignments, and exams. An adult can talk the kid out of the stress. Children, who have the irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, worsen their condition because of stress. Spicy and fatty foods can also act as triggers, along with the stress. Kids having this syndrome might even experience gas and belly pain.  Sometimes children avoid going to the bathroom when they feel the need for. Usually unclean restrooms keep children away. But when the nature’s call is neglected, it becomes harder to go at a later time. In very rare cases, medical conditions such as lupus, diabetes and thyroid gland malfunctioning can also lead to constipation.  

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.


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.


Appendicitis in Kids

Many children have their appendix removed even before turning the age of fourteen. And the risk starts to peak as they age. Majority of children who get an abdominal surgery is because of appendicitis. Appendicitis is actually appendix inflammation and as a result, a fingerlike tube grows on the lower right part of large intestine. Appendix is located at the closed end of the larger intestine, known as the cecum, and measures up to many inches. Although, doctors say that the appendix isn’t of much help to the body, but appendix’s inner wall releases antibodies, which are produced by the lymphatic tissues.



Appendicitis can be detected by the onset of pain in the middle portion of the abdomen, the portion above the belly button. After a few hours the area will swell and there will be intense pain when touching the abdomen’s right side. The patient will begin to vomit and will have nausea. There will low fever and there will be problems will gas and stool passage. Some people, after the onset of these symptoms, will take laxatives or enemas mistaking appendicitis for constipation. But this is extremely dangerous, as these medicines will in turn increase the risk of the appendix bursting. So it is recommended to consult the doctor before going for any kind of medication, even any pain relievers. Besides increasing the risk, they even mask the symptoms and makes diagnosis even more hard. If the child’s symptoms are very much similar to that of the appendicitis’ symptoms, he should be immediately taken to the doctor for further diagnosis. The doctor will first study the child’s digestive illnesses’ history. He should also be divulged information about the symptoms, timing, bowel movements and its frequency. The stool should also be checked for mucus or blood. Children, who can communicate, can be asked to point out the location of pain in the abdomen. Toddlers who haven’t started talking or who hesitate to do talk will raise their knees close to the chest, hips will be flexed and the abdomen becomes tender.  

Although, the actual cause of this abnormal growth of the appendix is not known, but it can result because of some kind of obstruction or infection in the intestines. The obstruction can be created due to thick mucus build-up inside the appendix. Some part of the stool can also enter inside. There will be mucus formation and the stool will harden within resulting in the swelling up of the appendix. If it is an infection, it should be treated immediately, as it can burst and there is a danger of the infection spreading to other parts of the body via bloodstream. That is the reason why even blood test is done, so as to determine whether the infection has spread or not. The urine test is done to check for problems in the urinary tract. The problem is then confirmed with the help of computed tomography or an ultrasound. Sometimes children with pneumonia have the similar symptoms, so to make matters clear even X-ray of the chest is done. Medical attention must be sought within forty eight hours of the start of the abdominal pain. Sometimes, abdomen develops mild inflammation, many weeks before the diagnosis is done.

After the diagnosis is done and appendicitis is determined, appendectomy is performed on the patient. The doctor will immediately order the intake of antibiotics before the surgery is performed. In case of confined appendicitis, it can be treated solely by antibiotics and no surgery is required. This is because the inflammation is very mild and the body itself fights with the infection. But, still as a precautionary measure, such kinds of patients must be kept in observation until their condition becomes stabilized. If the appendix ruptured then appendicle perforation is done. In this procedure, a drain is inserted inside the skin, through the abscess with the help of CT scan or ultrasound which gives the exact location. Some people develop complications later such as wound infection and accumulation of puss inside the appendix.


Abrasions, Cuts and Scratches

Sometimes abrasions, cuts and scratches result in dire consequences if they aren’t taken care of at the right time. Children run around the house and drop vases and other glass material, which can result in scratches or cuts. Outdoor activities should be supervised carefully, otherwise abrasions caused by a wall or a rock is unavoidable. There are slight differences among the three and most of the time children get them while playing.



Cuts are caused by sharp objects, which can penetrate into the skin or damage the skin on the surface. Scratches are mild form of cuts. They are also caused by sharp objects such as a piece of glass, thorn or a knife. Even fingernails can cause a scar. Abrasion is caused by friction or rubbing of the skin with a rough surface. Rug burns and board burns are also examples of abrasion, because they are caused by friction.

Also, in all three cases, the wound can bleed.  It bleeds when the tiny blood vessels located underneath the skin gets ruptured. Platelets form clot to stop the bleeding and a scab can also form, which should be pulled out as that will interfere with the healing process of the body. If the bleeding isn’t stopping, the wound should be covered with a soft cloth. After that the wound should be cleaned using lukewarm water and mild soap. Antibacterial ointment should be used to clean the wound and it should be covered with a bandage. The antibacterial ointment helps kill germs. The bandage will prevent bacteria from getting within and prevent the wound from getting bothersome. But the bandage should be changed everyday and the wound should be kept dry.

The good thing is that abrasion, cuts and scratches don’t require any special attention in most cases. But if the scratch is made by animal claws or abrasion is caused by a rusty metallic surface, a doctor should be approached immediately, because the animal could have rabies and the rust can cause septic. Depending on the situation, the doctor would prescribe antibiotics, lotion or even shots. It is also a good idea that parents make sure that their kid is given tetanus shot on a regular basis. Sometimes, the wound won’t be caused in dangerous circumstances, but because of negligence, the wound will get infected by bacteria. If it the wound is infected, it will show symptoms such as redness, swollen skin, and production of puss which can be of the color yellow or either green.

Cuts can sometimes be too deep and even long. In such cases, stitches should be certainly opted for. It is a very simple procedure. The area of the wound is made numb using some kind of anesthesia. It can either be injected or simply applied directly. Then the doctor will sew the cut edges together using certain needle and thread. If the cut isn’t big enough, the cut is sealed using a special kind of glue, instead of the stitches. The glue will hold the edges together so that the skin underneath will heal and over a period of time, the glue will dissolve.  Kids need to check with the doctor every week, so that the doctor will be able to analyze the improvement. And when the wound is completely healed, the stitches are cut open using scissors and then the threads are pulled off gently. In majority of the cases, the wound doesn’t leave behind a scar. This totally depends on the method and effectiveness of the treatment.  


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.