Dr Vijay Kumar

Common Childhood Treatments

Children are more prone to illnesses due to their underdeveloped immune systems and their high exposure to germs at schools and child care centres. To promote good health, parents should know the symptoms of common childhood illnesses and consult a pediatrician at the right time for them.

Dr. Vijay has vast experience in handling minor and major childhood illnesses, he can be reached out for care in Vijayawada.

Childhood diseases can encompass a vast number of problems, some common problems can be as listed below:

Common cold

Common cold leads to more visits to the doctor and absences from school and work than any other illness each year. It is caused by any one of several viruses and is easily spread to others.

What causes the common cold?

A cold is caused by any one of the several viruses that causes inflammation of the linings around the nose and throat.

Common cold is very easily spread to others. It often spreads through airborne droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air by the sick person. The droplets are then inhaled by another person. Cold can also spread when an infected person touches a surface which is then touched by a healthy person.

Symptoms of common cold

Some symptoms of common cold include:

➡️ Stuffy and runny nose
➡️ Sneezing
➡️ Watering eyes
➡️ Low-grade fever
➡️ Sore throat, children who can express may report pain in the throat
➡️ Mild cough
➡️ Painful muscles
➡️ Mild fatigue
➡️ Chills
➡️ Watery discharge from nose

Colds usually start 2 to 3 days after the virus enters the body and symptoms last from several days to several weeks.

How can common cold be prevented?

Common cold though a minor problem can lead to missed school, and activity, it also adds to debility in children. Some ways to prevent common cold are:

➡️ Encourage children to wash their hands frequently
➡️ Avoid touching nose and mouth frequently with unclean hands
➡️ Avoid your child coming in close contact with people who have cold
➡️ Clean the surfaces of your house with a disinfectant

When to call your doctor?

➡️ If the symptoms in your child get worse or they develop new symptoms, then let your healthcare provider know.
➡️ If the symptoms get prolonged and do not improve within a few days, then also let your doctor know.

Since other serious illnesses too may present with symptoms of common cold, it’s important to contact your pediatrician at the earliest in case of any doubt.

Flu in children

Flu or influenza is a contagious viral infection that affects the air passages of the lungs. Flu causes high fever, body aches, cough, and other symptoms. It is one of the most severe and common viral illnesses of the winter season.

Though the symptoms of flu may not last for more than a week in most children, some children may develop a more serious illness. The spread of infection can lead to pneumonia which needs hospitalization, it is thus recommended to prevent it or identify it early.

Cause of Flu

Flu is caused by the influenza virus. This virus can be of several types depending on its genetic structure, Influenza types A, B and C cause most illnesses. Since the virus mutates or changes its structure every year, this remains a problem.

Just like the common cold, flu is spread by direct contact with an infected person. When an infected person sneezes or coughs without a mask the droplets spread the infection. Flu can also spread when an infected person touches a surface that is then touched by a healthy person. Shared utensils also spread flu within families.

Symptoms of flu

Symptoms of flu are similar to cold but more severe than cold. Some symptoms of flu include:

➡️ High-grade fever
➡️ Body aches, which may be severe
➡️ Headache
➡️ Sore throat
➡️ Cough which gets worse with time
➡️ The child may report excess tiredness and won’t be interested in play
➡️ Runny or stuffy nose

At times, your child may also present with gastric problems like diarrhoea and vomiting in flu.

How to prevent flu in my child?

The best way to prevent flu in children is to have them vaccinated with the Flu vaccine yearly. The vaccine is recommended to be administered before the flu season begins. Each year, a new flu vaccine is available before the start of the season, since the flu virus mutates and changes its shape yearly vaccination can help protect your child against any new variant of the virus.

Other ways to prevent flu in your child include maintaining good personal hygiene and avoiding direct contact with any other person who has flu. Encourage the following in your child:

➡️ Frequent hand washing
➡️ Not to touch nose or mouth without washing hands
➡️ Not to share utensils

Diarrhoea in children

Diarrhoea is a frequent cause of concern in young children. It is a cause of worry for parents and makes them inactive and irritable too.

What is Diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is the frequent passage of soft or loose stools. Most kids have diarrhoea frequently, though it usually doesn’t last long and often improves on its own.

What causes diarrhoea?

Germs in the gastrointestinal tract can cause diarrhoea. Many bacteria, viruses, and at times parasites are responsible for causing infection which leads to diarrhoea in children.

Eating outside or food contaminated with these germs, uncooked food, and unsafe water are responsible for the development of diarrhoea in most cases.

Symptoms of diarrhoea

Some common symptoms of diarrhoea include:

➡️ Fever
➡️ Loss of appetite
➡️ Frequent loose stools
➡️ Nausea and vomiting
➡️ Weight loss in the child
➡️ Dehydration

How can diarrhoea be prevented?

➡️ Avoid eating unsafe and uncooked food from outside
➡️ Prefer bottled water when outside home
➡️ Encourage your child to carry his/her bottle when going out for play
➡️ Encourage hand washing frequently, especially before having meals
➡️ Serve freshly cooked food to your child
➡️ Avoid drinking juices from outside
➡️ Always check the expiration date when consuming pre-packaged food

Dengue

The mosquito is a small organism that is capable of transmitting big diseases in humans and Dengue is one such disease that is caused by mosquito bite. Dengue is one of the most common viral illnesses seen in children and is responsible for a lot of morbidity and mortality all over India. Since the specific cause of this disease is known and can be prevented, all parents should be aware of it and prevent it at all costs.

What causes Dengue?

Dengue is a viral disease, which is caused when a mosquito of the Aedes family carrying the dengue virus bites a healthy individual. The mosquito here is only responsible for taking the virus from one person to the other. It is after biting a diseased individual that the mosquito harbors the virus which is then transmitted by it to a healthy person and so forth. It is important to note that dengue does not transmit from one person to the other directly without the mosquito.

The dengue virus can be of four different types. After getting infected with one type of virus a person may get immune to getting the disease by it, but, the other three are still capable of causing disease in the same person. Any such second episode of dengue is usually more dangerous with more complications than the first episode. This disease is most prevalent in tropical countries, and India is one such place with the maximum prevalence of dengue.

How to identify dengue?

Dengue may present with varying symptoms in children. While the younger children may have milder symptoms, the older ones may present with a more serious illness. The disease presents itself after 4 days to two weeks of a mosquito bite and may last anywhere between 2-7 days or more. It starts with fever and strikingly complicates some days later after the fever goes away. One very classic sign noted in dengue is a pain in the muscles and joints, which is the reason why it is also popularly known as the breakbone fever in the common language. Though dengue doesn’t break any bones, but because of the pain it causes it is termed so. Some common symptoms that should be looked for in dengue include:

➡️ Fever which is usually very high
➡️ Pain in muscles and joints
➡️ Severe headache
➡️ Rashes over the body
➡️ Bleeding from the nose or gums due to low platelets
➡️ Bruising on minor hurt due to low platelets
➡️ Diarrhoea and vomiting
➡️ Weakness

In case of noticing any such symptoms or in case of any doubt it is advisable to consult the pediatrician in order to save the child from developing complications due to dengue. Your doctor will examine the child in detail and will also take a blood sample for examination to confirm the disease.

Prevention of dengue

Since dengue can lead to serious illness in a child, thus all measures should be taken to prevent it. To prevent dengue utmost care has to be taken to protect the child from any harmful mosquito bite and also, you have to make sure that your surroundings are not responsible for the breeding of such mosquitoes. The following can be remembered when it comes to prevention:

➡️ Usage of mesh in all doors and windows in order to block the mosquitoes from entering the house.
➡️ Usage of mosquito net for babies and children to prevent any mosquito bites while they are asleep.
➡️ Usage of mosquito repellent creams on the exposed body parts whenever the child goes out to play.
➡️ Make children wear full sleeves shirts and t-shirts and full pants especially when they go out, to prevent any mosquito bites. Since the dengue mosquito tends to bite in the daytime, thus, such care is important during the day hours too.
➡️ Any water accumulation should be prevented in and around the house.

Since the dengue mosquito breeds in clean water, it is important to make sure that utmost hygiene is maintained in and around the house. Water accumulation has to be prevented in flower vases, pots on the balcony, or any ditch in or around the house. Water in buckets if stored for prolonged periods is advised to be covered, and any water used for birds in the balcony should be cleaned and changed regularly. In case of the existence of any water retention areas around the house, one should take the responsibility to get it repaired in order to prevent water from accumulating in it.

Typhoid

Typhoid fever is caused by a bacteria named Salmonella typhi. It is still a serious health threat in a developing country like India, especially for children. Food and water contaminated with typhoid bacteria or close contact with an infected person can cause typhoid fever. Early detection can help in the effective treatment of Typhoid.

How can I know if my child may have Typhoid?

Symptoms of typhoid in children begin 1-3 weeks after exposure to the bacteria. Some signs and symptoms of Typhoid include:

➡️ High fever (Step ladder fever is typical of Typhoid. Fever here starts low, and increases every day and temperature can go up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit)
➡️ Headache
➡️ Stomach pain
➡️ Constipation or diarrhoea
➡️ Swollen stomach
➡️ Loss of appetite
➡️ Rash- Rose spots mainly on the neck and stomach region
➡️ Dry cough

If Typhoid is untreated then it can lead to severe life-threatening complications. Children infected with Typhoid can become confused and extremely weak.

What causes Typhoid?

Faeco-Oral transmission

In developing countries, where typhoid fever is established, most people become infected by drinking contaminated water and eating contaminated food. The bacteria in the urine and faeces of an infected person can get deposited in the food and water and thus spreads to the non-infected person when he/she consumes such food.

Transmission through Typhoid carriers

Even after an antibiotic treatment, a small number of people who recover from typhoid fever continue to harbor the typhoid bacteria. These people, known as chronic carriers, no longer have signs or symptoms of the disease themselves. However, they shed the bacteria in their feces and are capable of infecting others.

Measures to prevent Typhoid?

Safe drinking water, improved sanitation, and adequate medical care can help prevent and control typhoid fever. Here are a few measures you can take to keep your child safe:

➡️ Wash your hands. Frequent hand-washing with soap water is the best way to control infection. Encourage your children to wash their hands thoroughly before eating and after using the toilet. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for times when water isn’t available. When cooking at home all meals should be prepared after washing hands thoroughly.

➡️ Avoid drinking unsafe water from outside: Contaminated drinking water is a major cause of the spread of Typhoid. Whenever possible encourage your children to carry their water bottle from home, or else prefer packaged drinking water from outside. When consuming any cold drinks or juices prefer a safe place and avoid ice in it.

➡️ Avoid raw fruits and vegetables: Raw fruits and vegetables may have been washed in contaminated water and are better to be avoided if they can’t be peeled. To be safe, you may want to avoid raw foods entirely.

➡️ Choose hot foods. Avoid food that is cold stored or served at room temperature. Steaming hot foods are the best. Also, it’s best to avoid food from street vendors it has more chances to be infected.

Pneumonia

What is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It is generally more common in children younger than 5 years old and can vary from mild to serious.

 

What causes pneumonia?

Pneumonia is most often caused by bacteria or viruses. Most of these bacteria and viruses can spread by direct contact when a healthy child comes in contact with an infected child.

Some bacteria and viruses that may cause pneumonia include the following:

➡️ Streptococcus pneumoniae
➡️ Mycoplasma pneumonia
➡️ Group B streptococcus
➡️ Staphylococcus aureus
➡️ Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
➡️ Parainfluenza virus
➡️ Influenza virus
➡️ Adenovirus

At times fungi can also cause pneumonia.

Risk factors for pneumonia

The following can make a child more prone to developing pneumonia:

➡️ Weak immune system
➡️ If the child has any other ongoing chronic illness
➡️ If the child has any lung disease

Children are also at a greater risk of developing pneumonia if they are passively exposed to tobacco smoke.

Symptoms of pneumonia

Pneumonia may produce varied symptoms, not all symptoms may be present in all children. Some common symptoms include:

➡️ Fever
➡️ Cough with mucus
➡️ Chills
➡️ Fast breathing 
➡️ Breathing with grunting or wheezing sounds
➡️ Forced breathing
➡️ Vomiting
➡️ Chest pain
➡️ Pain in abdomen
➡️ Being less active 
➡️ Loss of appetite in an older child and poorly feeding infant

Early symptoms of viral pneumonia are the same as those of bacterial pneumonia. But with viral pneumonia, the breathing problems happen slowly. Your child may wheeze and the cough may get worse. Viral pneumonia may make a child more at risk for bacterial pneumonia.

In case of any doubtful symptoms contact a pediatrician near you at the earliest.

How is pneumonia diagnosed in a child?

Your pediatrician will take a detailed history of disease from you and perform a physical examination for your child, including listening to chest sounds using a stethoscope. Additionally, to confirm the diagnosis your doctor may also advise for a chest x-ray, sputum culture, blood tests, pulse oximetry test, or even a CT scan in case of severe infection.  Very rarely a bronchoscopy or pleural fluid culture may be done by an expert.

Prevention of Pneumonia in children

Some types of pneumonia can be prevented by vaccines.

➡️ Children usually get routine vaccines against Haemophilus influenza, pneumococcus, and whooping cough beginning at 2 months of age.
➡️ Flu vaccine: All children from age of 6 months to 19 years are recommended to get the flu vaccine. These are more important in children with chronic illnesses.
➡️ Covid vaccine: All children from ages 12 years and above are recommended to take their covid vaccine.

As a precaution children should be kept away from anyone with symptoms of cold or respiratory infection. During the pandemic, masks have been very helpful in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia.

Dr. Vijay can be reached for pediatric and neonatal care in Vijayawada. He has expertise in treating various common conditions of children and is also highly skillful in performing all the procedures required in the newborn.