Your children and back-to-school illnesses

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This is an article from our “Doctor’s Corner” series, brought to you by Samitivej Hospital. Make sure to read the entire series!

Within a few weeks after children return to school after their vacation, parents will stress about their loved ones coming home sick!

Back to school illnesses

Besides a cold, are you aware that many other diseases can be caught during the rainy season? Let’s look at the details of these diseases.

Common Cold

Cause: Common cold is a viral infection. Many different viruses (over 200) can give rise to colds.

Signs and Severity: Cough, sore throat, sneezing, nasal stuffiness, runny nose, and muscle aches. Fever is low-grade or absent. In most cases, these infections that lead to colds are temporary and harmless. A cold is usually a self-limiting illness that will resolve in about 7 days.

Parental Guidance: If your child appears well, and is running around as usual and eating normally, he/she has probably just caught a simple cold. Restore fluid loss due to fever by drinking plenty of water. A tepid water sponge bath is a useful method in lowering a high fever. Take your child to see a doctor if symptoms persist, or if your child becomes less responsive and refuses to eat or drink. Super-infection with bacteria can also be possible if the nasal discharge thickens and becomes yellow to greenish.

Recommendations: Cover a small child’s mouth and nose with a mask when they go to school to prevent transmission.

Flu (influenza)

Cause: Influenza Virus

Signs and Severity: High-grade fever, headache, body and muscle aches, sore throat, runny nose, dry cough, red eyes, nausea and loss of appetite. In some severe cases, pneumonia often occurs as a complication of the flu.

Parental Guidance: Consult your doctor if influenza is suspected. Take anti-fever drugs as directed. A tepid water sponge bath is a useful method in lowering a high fever. Do not use aspirin and related drugs for a high fever.

Recommendations: Flu vaccines should be given to small children and the elderly.

Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

Cause: Dengue Virus

Signs and Severity: DHF starts with abrupt, high-grade, and continuous fever. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, severe headache with flushing or pale pink rash over the face, intestinal symptoms with nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The petechiae rash (minute bright red spots on the skin) can be observed, and usually appears on the trunk first, before spreading peripherally. Blood in the stool, bleeding gums, and nosebleeds (epistaxis) are also common. In severe cases, fatal shock may occur.

Parental Guidance: Non-specific signs of the “dengue triad” of fever, rash, and headache characteristic of dengue during early infection make diagnosis somewhat difficult and are sometimes confused with flu, influenza, measles, and other viral infections. See a doctor if the fever persists for more than 3 days, or the child remains lethargic even when the fever has subsided, since fatal shock may occur. Use of acetaminophen, but not aspirin, is allowed for controlling the fever.

Recommendations: Take control measures to eliminate the mosquitoes and their breeding places, including any containers left with stagnant water. Use personal protection such as the application of insecticide weekly or wearing insect repellent (Dengue mosquitoes bite during the daytime).

Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Cause: Coxsackievirus A16

Signs and Severity: The disease usually begins with a fever, poor appetite, malaise (feeling vaguely unwell), and often with a sore throat. Painful sores usually develop in the mouth which begin as small red spots that blister and then often become ulcers. The sores are usually located on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks. Skin rash on the trunk may develop; and may also appear on the buttocks and/or genitalia. Severe outbreak has been associated with Enterovirus 71 infection which can result in fatal meningo-encephalitis, high-grade fever, malaise, seizure, with pulmonary oedema, pneumonia, and cardiogenic shock.

Parental Guidance: The disease is usually self-limiting, with the rash and fever disappearing after few days with uneventful recovery. Antipyretics should be given as needed for fever. Mouthwashes or sprays that numb pain can be used to lessen mouth pain. However, if children have a high fever, are vomiting, refuse to eat or drink, or become lethargic, which suggest disease complications, seek medical attention immediately.

Recommendations: A specific preventive vaccine for HFMD is not yet available, but the risk of infection can be lowered by following good hygiene practices, since infection is spread from person to person by direct contact with the infectious virus found in the nose and throat secretions, saliva, blister fluid, and stool of infected persons. Children, therefore, should wash their hands regularly. Parents and anyone who is taking care of the children should also wash their hands before having any physical contact with children.

Should the parents have further questions regarding disease prevention and information on guidelines for health and wellness in children, please contact the Pediatric Department at any of our 3 Samitivej Hospitals locations.

Samitivej, We Care!

Subun Suwatanapongched , M.D.
Pediatrics – Pulmonology
Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital

For further information, please contact:

Child Health Institute
Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital
2st Floor, Building 2
Tel: 66 (0) 2711-8236-7
Call Center: 66 (0) 2711-8181

Photo Credit: makelessnoise via Compfight cc

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