How to Treat Child Illnesses at Home

Parents are always hoping that their children would not get sick but it is inevitable that most children with their underdeveloped bodies and immune system, they  tend to be stricken with common diseases every once in a while. Parents would need to be ready to take care of their children at home for diseases that are not so serious for hospital confinement. Here are a few tips on how and when to treat child illnesses at home.

  1. Insect bites – probably the most common problem in children that plays around the house a lot. Children can easily get insect bites if they aren’t wearing clothes that fully cover their extremities. If children will play outside parents should put a mosquito lotion on their exposed skin to prevent insect bites from disease carrying vectors such as mosquitoes. It will also be helpful to dress them with cotton long sleeves and pants for full coverage of the skin.
  2. Sore throat – many children are prone to get sore throats characterized by redness of the area, difficulty is swallowing and fever. Sore throats may be caused by a bacterial infection that is treated with antibiotics. Consult your doctor before starting any antibiotic treatments. For home treatment for children with sore throat make sure they are well rested and offer lots of fluid to ease pain and dryness in the throat.
  3. Pink eye – the inner eyelids and the white portion of the eye is reddened. This causes itchiness; swelling and a greenish yellow discharge may be present. Placing a warm clean wash cloth will ease the pain and discomfort and can easily wipe the discharge off the eye for better visualization. Consult your doctor for prescription eye drops to remove any bacterial infection. Make sure that your child has plenty of rest and washes his or her hands frequently to avoid contaminating others.
  4. Fever – is not a condition in itself but a symptom of an underlying disease or infection. It is necessary to pinpoint the cause if there are any. Providing care for a child with fever includes limited activities with plenty of rest and sleep. Medication to decrease temperature with the right dosage from the doctor at equal intervals until fever goes away. A tepid sponge bath will help regulate the temperature and provide a soothing feeling for the child.
  5. Colds and runny nose – Children are very susceptible to colds and flu with their weak immune system and close proximity to other infected individuals in school. Parents can use a suction bulb to suck out gently the mucus out from the sinuses. Increasing oral fluid intake is beneficial to replace lost fluids from the body and will further loosen the mucus. Serve nutritious foods to your sick child and give them lots of fruits rich in vitamin C to boost their immune system to help fight off the disease.

When caring for a sick child at home remember that they need to rest so give them fun activities that can be done while in bed like watching cartoon movies, reading books and coloring. This will remove boredom while maintaining a resting environment for the child to fully recover.

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Easy Ways to Manage Nasal Congestion in Newborns

When newborns have stuffy noses, it means that their nasal passages are congested. According to Medline Plus, a website supported by the National Institutes of Health, majority of the people consider nasal congestion to be caused by thick mucus secretions that block the nose and its passageway. They do not include swollen nasal linings to be the cause, which is the case most of time. Children below 3 years old as well as newborn babies are obligatory nasal breathers. In the event of nasal congestion, newborns will have difficulties feeding and even breathing. It can also interfere with their ears, hearing, speech development and sleep patterns. To prevent these disturbances form happening, here are some easy ways to manage nasal congestion newborn babies.

Since newborns do not know how to blow their noses yet, saline nose drops can be used as an alternative to clear the nose from secretions. Saline nose drops can either be commercially prepared or home made. To make your own salt water nose drops stir in ¼ teaspoon of table salt to ½ cup of fresh lukewarm everyday water, mix until the salt granules have completely dissolved. Once the saline nose drops solution is ready, lay the baby on his back with a rolled towel underneath and slowly introduce 2 to 3 salt water drops on each of his nostril. Let the solution stay inside his nose for 30 to 60 seconds. The next step is to let the baby lie on his stomach. This position allows the solution to remove the nasal secretions from hard to reach areas as well as facilitate its drainage. There are two ways to remove the drained secretions, first one is with the use of soft tissue or swab and the second is through an infant nasal aspirator or bulb syringe. When using a piece of tissue or swab, roll it around the nostril and allow the material to absorb all the drain and secretions. Avoid inserting stemmed-cotton swabs inside the baby’s nose. The bulb syringe can be easily used; the soft tip is inserted inside the nose and then the device slowly collects secretions by air vacuum. Another easy way to manage newborn nasal congestion is through positioning. The best position that can clear secretions, facilitate drainage and promote lung expansion is semi-fowlers or high-fowlers position. This can be done by raining the head higher than the lower extremities using pillows or rolled linens on the head part of the mattress. Using a cool-mist vaporizer is also an effective treatment regimen for nasal congestion. Vapor and moisture softens the secretions and allow them to drain naturally. When using a vaporizer, moisture should not be excessive, too much can cause adverse effects. Breast feeding and increasing oral fluid intake is also found to effectively manage newborn nasal congestion. Breast milk contains antibodies which strengthen the baby’s immune system; it also provides enough fluids that can liquefy secretions. Cough suppressants and cold medicines are not recommended for newborns. Aside from being ineffective, these drugs can potentially harm the developing infant.

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Preparing Your Kids for Immunization in Advance

Immunizations also called vaccines are drugs used to prevent certain forms of diseases and infections, as defined by Kids Health.org, a website supported by the National Institutes of Health. Immunizations are usually given during the early years of childhood, some infants as young as a few days old are already given vaccines in some parts of the world. Most vaccines are made using a very small and controlled amount of the bacteria that it targets. This weakened microorganism stimulates the body to form antigens and antibodies for specific for that disease. Commonly, vaccines are injected into the body, but some are taken orally. Vaccines are also given at pre-determined doses and schedules, a few are just given once, but most of them are given more than 2 times.

Vaccines do not guarantee 100% protection and disease prevention. Many factors contribute to this. A person may not form enough antibodies against the bacteria or his system might not react to the immunization given.  Some of the diseases that already have vaccines and immunizations include the Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Measles, Chicken Pox, Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Mumps, Tetanus and Rabies. Newborn babies are temporarily immune to diseases because of the antibodies they get from the placenta and breast milk but as they grow older, this immunity fades away. The American Academy of Pediatricians or AAP has a recommended vaccination schedule for children who belong to different age groups.

1)      Hepatitis B Vaccine – Given to prevent Hepatitis B infection in the liver which can potentially lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer. This vaccine is given in 3 doses. The first dose can be given as early as 12 hours after birth. The second dose is introduced 1 to 2 months after the first and the third dose will follow after 6 to 18 months after. The immunity this vaccine provides is long term and can last up to adulthood.

2)     Pneumococcal Vaccine – Immunization against pneumonia, bacterial meningitis and blood infections. Pneumococcal Vaccine or PCV is given in 4 doses. The first dose is given when the baby is 2 months old. The second dose is given during the fourth month. The third dose follows at the sixth month and the last one is given at the twelfth month. After giving the vaccine, the child might experience a slight fever and soreness in the injection site.

3)     DTaP – The DTaP vaccine provides immunity for 3 diseases namely diphtheria, a serious throat infection, tetanus, a nerve disease and pertussis or whooping cough. DTaP is given in 5 doses. Usually introduces at the 2nd month, 4th month, 6th month, 15th month and 6th to 8th year of life respectively. Booster doses needs to be given for tetanus every 10 years.

4)     Inactivated Polio Virus or (IPV) – The IPV vaccine provides immunity for poliomyelitis, a debilitating viral infection. Usually given at the 2nd, 4th, 6th month and during ages 4 to 6. IPV vaccine is one of the few vaccines that can be given orally. The IPV vaccine provides permanent protection against polio.

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Is it a Flu or a West?

During the summertime or even early fall, your child may spend a lot of time in the outdoors and may be exposed to mosquitoes, among other bugs. So when your kid suddenly comes down with something, how do you know if it’s just the flu, or it’s a West? This article provides helpful information in distinguishing between the typical Influenza and the West Nile Virus, since their symptoms are too alike.

 

Background

Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a disease caused by the Influenza virus. It causes fever, chills and may be accompanied by colds, cough or stomachaches. Because it is caused by a virus, the flu is self-limited. This means that the affected person’s immune defenses are all it takes to fight off flu. There are no medicines apart from the symptomatic ones which only help fever go down, or provide comfort measures against colds or cough. So, if a child’s immune system is healthy and well-developed, his or her flu may go away in three days to a week. Since the immune system is solely responsible in fighting off the virus, any affected person is advised to stay in bed to rest and recuperate and to eat vitamin-rich food, especially fruits. The virus is transmitted via droplets, usually from the coughing and sneezing of infected persons.

The West Nile Virus, on the other hand, is a disease caused by a bite of a virus-carrying mosquito. Not all mosquitoes carry the WNV, however studies have shown that the majority of West Nile Viruses cases occur between July to September in many parts of the United States.  It is important to remember that the infectious agent is a virus, so not everyone who gets bitten by a carrier mosquito will get sick with the disease. If a child has normal immune defenses, he or she may not become sick, or if anything, may simply present with flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and colds that go away after a few days. However, people with weak immune systems are more vulnerable and affected by the virus. If this is the case, they will present with more severe symptoms that just the ones similar to the flu.

What’s the difference?

Although both diseases are alike in symptoms, the viruses target very different systems. The influenza virus targets the respiratory system, which is why the common symptoms include sore throat, cough and colds, and sometimes even diarrhea and an upset stomach. On the other hand, West Nile Virus impacts the neurological system. Severe symptoms may include high-grade and persistent fever, headaches, stiff neck. In even worse cases, although rare, the WNV can cause the brain to become irritated and swollen, a dangerous condition known as encephalitis.

Unlike the flu which is bound to spread in closed locations, such as a classroom or a home, the West Nile Virus is not transmitted from one person to another.

If your child shows signs that are not associated with the common flu, it is crucial to see a doctor immediately.

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Flu Vaccine and Your Child

No one is ever spared from contracting flu. Even the healthiest individual, at some point, in a year can be a victim of flu. What is worrisome about this condition is that the complications can lead to death and that the usual victims are children and the elderly.

To keep up with the said disease, the flu vaccine was invented to counter the drastic effects of the disease as well as a strategy to pump up the immune system aside from the usual proper diet, exercise and adequate rest and sleep.

The influenza or flu vaccine comes highly recommended to be administered every year specially for children from 6 to 18 months old; those who live with other high risk groups should also be given the shot. Everyone older than six months should have the flu vaccine. The high risk groups, however, have been specifically identified. If your child is suffering from chronic conditions like asthma and other immune system problems or is taking aspirin for Reyes treatment or if there there are healthcare workers in your family or someone who has been confined in long-term facilities, then getting the flu shot is a must.

The flu vaccination is given annually as the shot is constantly being modified to make sure that it will be effective as different strain of flu have been discovered recently.  Although it will be difficult for both the parents and the child to have the vaccination, the advantages over the disadvantages cannot be dismissed. Thankfully, FluMist, a nasal spray can be used by children older than two years to prevent discomfort and pain from the needles.

Influenza is transmitted fast from one person to another; a simple sneeze or cough and even touching a contaminated object can victimize anyone with the flu. When one is vaccinated, he is, at most, 80% protected. Bear in mind that the protection does not guarantee that you will not have the illness. It is also important to remember that the timing of the vaccination must be administered before the flu season as the protection becomes viable after around two weeks of availing the shot.

Children below nine years will be given the shot twice at least a month apart while the older ones can already have a good response after one injection.

As always, there are side effects from the medication which can be tolerated and relieved like swelling, soreness and redness in the area where the medicine was injected. There are also cases where fever is present. Although rare, allergic reaction is possible.

There is also a notion that the child contracts flu from the flu shot. This is not true as the medicine given is made from inactive virus. Another issue that is the possibility of an allergic reaction with a child who has an allergy with eggs. This is of course considered before the vaccination takes place as the flu vaccine is typically made using eggs to incubate the vaccine. Your doctor will have to weigh whether to proceed with the vaccination or not as there could be a possibility of allergic reactions.

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How Do You Know If It’s a Cold or a Flu?

As adults, it is not unusual for us to see children having the sniffles. Children get sick at some point in their lives, having a runny nose, sneezing and coughing are among the symptoms we get to observe during these instances. Colds and flu are two of the most common childhood diseases our kids may encounter. In most cases, both these conditions exhibit the same signs and symptoms. Children who suffer from colds would complain of body aches, fatigue and a stuffy nose. On the other hand those who have the flu would manifest signs of extreme tiredness, dry cough and fever. With that in mind, a common cold is less severe in terms of symptoms compared to flu.

How does a cold differ from flu? Both these conditions are respiratory illnesses caused by different types and strains of viruses. The causative agent of colds can either be one of the 200 known cold viruses to date. Flu is caused by either the influenza A virus or the influenza B virus. Since flu has fewer causative agents, a vaccine can be used to prevent infection of such virus. Currently, vaccination shots for the common cold are not yet available. Symptoms that can be noticed in children who suffer from colds develop slowly and gradually, the first one that appears is nasal discharges often green-colored or yellow-colored. This runny or stuffy nose is accompanied by cough, sneezing and sore throat. As the condition worsens, the child can develop fever up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, he will also have headaches, muscle aches, fatigue and watery eyes. Children, who suffer from flu, manifest flu-like symptoms more quickly than colds. These kids will have a stuffy or runny nose, a fever up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, cough and headache. With time, other symptoms including nausea, night sweats and chills, loss of appetite and muscle aches on the back, arms and legs will eventually appear.

As we all know, the common cold doesn’t have any treatments available. This condition is managed by doing support measures such as increasing oral fluids, boosting the immune system by eating healthy and consuming items rich in vitamin C or ascorbic acid and getting enough rest and sleep to fight off the infection. For flu, doctors may prescribe anti-viral medications to get rid of the influenza virus. Support measures are also practiced to treat the condition’s symptoms. Like colds, drinking lots of oral fluids, avoiding smoke and alcohol, eating a healthy balance diet and having adequate amounts of rest and sleep can help the child heal and recover. Sore throat can be managed using saline gargles; salt water nose drops can also help loosen mucus secretions as well as moistened the inner skin of the nose. Over the counter medications such as analgesics, decongestants, cough suppressants and expectorants can treat the symptoms of both colds and flu.

These two conditions usually heal with time, but if the symptoms worsen and last more than 10 days, it’s best to seek medical help from the child’s pediatrician.

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Determining what ails your child

Is it the cold or is it the flu? Since both ailments have similar symptoms it may be hard to tell what your child is suffering from. Generally, the symptoms of the flu affect your child more than the symptoms of a cold. But that’s not always the case. To determine which is which, first consider how quickly the onset of symptoms came. If your child seemed to get sick rather suddenly, it’s probably the flu but if the symptoms came on gradually you are dealing with a cold. The flu also brings a high fever whereas a cold may have a low fever or none at all. The cough that comes with a cold is normally severe and hacking, but a flu cough will be dry. Other sure signs of the flu include achy muscles, chills, a decreased appetite and a headache. Keep in mind, however, that symptoms may vary in your child. If you suspect the flu at all, call your child’s doctor. If the flu is caught within the first 48 hours, your child may respond well to antiviral medication. This can shorten the course of the flu by 1 to 2 days. Whatever the case, make your child gets lots of extra fluids and rest.

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The Flu vs. Rotavirus Infection

Parents are often confused when a child seems to come down with the flu, after having received their flu shot for the season.  It is actually far more likely that the child is infected with the rotavirus, a common flu-like virus for which there is no vaccine.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that causes symptoms such as fever, sore throat, headache and a dry cough.  Children must take in a lot of fluids to avoid dehydration when they are sick with the flu.

 The symptoms of a rotavirus infection are slightly different and include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever.  This type of infection is more common in six month to five year olds than the flu.

Although influenza and rotavirus are different types of infection, prevention and treatment is much the same.  Frequent hand washing, covering your nose when you cough or sneeze and avoiding people who are ill are all ways of preventing the spread of influenza or rotavirus. 

When treating your child’s flu or rotavirus illness, it is important to provide them with plenty of clear fluids.  Pop and other sweetened beverages can actually work against you; their high sugar content actually draws water into the intestines and away from the rest of the body.  Clear unsweetened juice, warm broth, water and electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte should be given every hour to prevent dehydration. 

Every with hand washing and disinfecting, it is impossible to keep your child completely germ free, especially if they go to daycare.  Before flu season hits, stock your medicine cabinet with Pedialyte, Children’s Tylenol, a thermometer and Gravol.  If your child does become ill and has a temperature of 105 or above, call your Doctor immediately.  Otherwise, give them lots of hugs and fluids and hopefully it won’t last long!

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