Posts tagged asthma
Children get sick. It’s practically part of their job description. But there are some diseases that parents need to be aware of. This post is about some illnesses that children are vulnerable to, as well as their symptoms and what to do if you notice them.
Asthma is a relatively common long-term condition that is easily controlled with medication. Over a million children in the UK have asthma. The disease affects the airways, making them hyper sensitive to irritants like dust, smoke, pollen or even just cold air.
The causes of asthma are not completely understood, although it is thought to run in families.
Asthma is dangerous if not treated and managed correctly, every year children die because of it.
When a child with asthma comes into contact with a trigger (which can include exercise or having a cold or the flu) their airways become narrower. This can leave them gasping or wheezing for breathe. Children may also experience tightness in their chest or feel unable to breath.
Asthma is difficult to diagnose because other illnesses can cause similar symptoms. Some children with asthma suffer from other conditions such as hay fever and eczema.
What to do
If you’re worried that your child may have asthma, arrange an appointment with your GP. They will ask about your child’s medical history, allergies, symptoms etc. There are also some tests which doctors can carry out to indicate whether a child is suffering from asthma.
If asthma has been diagnosed, ensure that you child uses their brown inhaler regularly (this will help prevent attacks and reduce the severity of your child’s asthma) and their blue inhaler as needed (which relieves the symptoms when your child feels them).
It’s important that children understand the need to use both inhalers to properly manage their illness. Relying too heavily on blue inhalers can lead to tragic consequences as during a severe asthma attack, the airways can clamp down completely, killing in just a few minutes.
Asthmatics should always know where their inhalers are and have immediate access to them when required.
You should inform your child’s school about their asthma so that teachers can take extra precautions.
Babies and toddlers in the UK are routinely vaccinated against whooping cough however a recent outbreak has claimed the lives of many babies.
Whooping cough is cause by a bacterial infection and is highly contagious.
Adults do contract the disease, but the symptoms are much milder than those displayed by young children and it’s often dismissed as a common cold.
In serious cases whooping cough can stop children breathing, which potentially results in brain damage or death. The infection can also cause pneumonia or severe weight loss.
Whooping cough causes a fever and an excess of nasal mucus, but the most recognisable symptom is long periods of coughing fits. These can be distressing to both the child and those caring for them. The coughing is uncontrollable and often violent.
Coughing fits are often followed by wheezy breathing and occasionally vomiting brought on by extended coughing.
The symptoms of whooping cough are often worse at night.
What to do
Make sure that your baby gets their vaccination against whooping cough (usually given at 2, 3 or 4 months, followed by a pre-school booster injection). To combat the current outbreak, women between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant are being offered the vaccine to immunise their baby in the womb.
If your baby or toddler is showing signs of whooping cough, contact your GP. Antibiotics usually successfully cure the infection.
Any child diagnosed with whooping cough should not be allowed contact with other children until a course of antibiotics has been completed.
Meningitis can kill in just a few hours, or potentially leave your child blind, deaf, paralysed, brain damaged. It is many parents’ worst nightmare.
Meningitis itself is a symptom of a number of bacterial, viral or even fungal infections. It is a swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord which can very quickly become serious.
Viral meningitis is more common, but is usually less severe than bacterial meningitis, which is always a perilous condition.
The speed at which meningitis can develop is what makes it so deadly. A child can seem perfectly well one moment and in just a few hours become extremely ill with the disease.
Also, the symptoms of meningitis can easily be missed, or misdiagnosed as other illnesses, even by experienced doctors.
Someone suffering with meningitis may not show any of the symptoms mentioned in this article. It’s also important to remember that these symptoms can appear in any order.
The most infamous symptom of meningitis is a rash that looks like small red pinpricks which grow into purple/red blotches. The rash doesn’t fade under pressure – you can test this by rolling a glass over the area.
In babies and very young children meningitis can cause a tense or bulging fontanel (soft spot on top of baby’s heads), vomiting, a fever, or a high-pitched/moaning cry.
Babies could also refuse to eat, develop blotchy or pale skin, rapid breathing, and have either a floppy or stiff body.
Older children and adults may get severe headaches, a stiff or painful neck and develop an aversion to bright lights as well as fever and vomiting. Those with meningitis can feel drowsy or fall unconscious.
Other early warning signs of meningitis in children include cold hands and feet, strange skin colour (pale, bluish or mottled), and leg pains. These symptoms often show themselves hours before the more recognisable symptoms, like a rash and an aversion to bright light.
What to do
As a parent you know your child better than anyone else. If you suspect there is cause for concern and your baby is showing any of the symptoms listed above, do not hesitate to seek medical help. Take your child straight to a hospital and tell them what you’re worried about. Meningitis is a potentially lethal condition and requires immediate medical attention.
Author Bio: James Armstrong is an experienced journalist, currently writing about health for Dr Thom the online doctor service.
Anyone who follows me on twitter or who regular reads this blog, will know about the problems I’ve had with MasterB’s breathing. He has always been snotty, gunky, wheezy and generally a bit of a sickly child bless him. We ended up in hospital twice with him over the winter and regularly need to use inhalers to control his breathing when he gets bad. Everytime he picks up a bug it ends up on his chest and we worry it’s going to mean another hospital trip.
We’ve been sent a Mini-Ultrasonic Humidifier as recommended by Vicks to try out to see if it helps at all. I’ve heard a lot about these and have had them recommended before so I was eager to see if it made a difference to MasterB.
What They Say
This latest generation cool mist humidifier will help to reduce the survival of flu viruses and ease conditions such as a dry nose, throat, eyes and skin discomfort.
“Part of the reason for increased respiratory illnesses during this time is because humidity levels in the air reach a yearly low,” said Ricardo Novella, Brand Manager Healthcare at Kaz Europe SA, manufacturer of Vicks humidifiers under a license to the Vicks trademark. Studies show that keeping indoor air at a relative humidity level of 40-60% reduces the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air.
“One of the first things doctors recommend when a child comes down with a cold is to use a humidifier, as this can help loosen congestion and soothe a sore throat. Proper humidification is especially important for children since their smaller nostrils get bunged up more easily,” said Ricardo Novella.
The Vicks VH5000 Cool Mist Mini-Ultrasonic Humidifier is compact, ultra quiet, makes the room feel warmer and demonstrates efficiency through visible mist which can be directed with a 360° nozzle. The VH5000 runs for up to eight hours per filling and is suitable for a child’s room due to its silent technology and as cool mist avoids risk of burns. The humidifier can be used with Vicks menthol scent VapoPads, a soothing smell that helps relieve congestion and cold symptoms. Demineralization cartridges can also be used to soften the water and avoid white dust and can also be used with Antibacterial cartridges to kill bacteria and viruses because of its active carbon properties.”
What We Think
We’ve been using the humidifer in MasterB’s room now for a couple of weeks and overall I’m impressed. MasterB’s room is only small but it always feels very dry, especially over the winter when we have the central heating on pretty much constantly. The first thing I like about the humidifier is that you can adjust the direction of the flow of mist so I can aim it in the direction of his cot, I also love that you can adjust the flow. I’ve read reviews of other products which say that they release too much humidity into the air and damage the walls etc but with this one I can keep it on a low setting so that it introduces enough humidity into the room but not so much that it damages anything.
The humidifier does make a low humming sound, (as do most electronic appliances) but it isn’t loud enough to affect MasterB’s sleep and to be honest I think he finds it quite soothing. I do have to make sure it is out of his reach though as now he is big enough to reach over the cot, anything within grasping distance is dragged into the cot with him!
The first thing I noticed when I walked into his room after having had the humidifier on for a while is the freshness. It’s hard to put into words but you know that lovely fresh feeling you get when there has been a storm after a long dry spell and everything just feels fresh? Well it felt like that! MasterB hasn’t had as many colds/breathing problems recently, of course I can’t guarantee that it’s directly related to using the humidifier but I like to think it’s helping!
We were supplied with some Vicks Vapour Pads to use in the humidifer. I don’t use them all the time as most of the time I feel the mist by itself is adding enough to the air quality in his room but when MasterB does seem a bit more bunged up or wheezy than usual then I pop one of the pads into the humidifer and it diffuses it into the air. Now I do find them a bit strong personally but they definitely help and MasterB wakes up with a much clearer nose and chest than when I put him down. I tend to leave his nursery door open when I use the vapour pads though as they do get strong when used in such a small nursery like his.
Would I recommend the Mini-Ultrasonic Humidifier? Yes I would, I like to think it’s made a difference with MasterB, it hasn’t completely stopped him being poorly but it’s certainly not been as bad these last couple of weeks since the humidifier has been in his room
The VH5000 Cool Mist Mini-Ultrasonic humidifier has a two year warranty and is available from many retailers at the recommended price of £49.99. I found it on Amazon for around £37 which I think is good value for something that helps MasterB