Illnesses

Cough
The most common causes of cough are the common cold, bronchitis, reactive airway disease, bronchiolitis, pneumonia, croup, and asthma and allergies. Symptoms of the common cold include cough, fever, runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, fever, and fatigue. The common cold is caused by a virus, so your child will not need antibiotics to treat it. Bronchitis is simply a cough with phlegm production. With bronchitis, just like the common cold, your child will not need antibiotics.

Reactive airway disease occurs in children whose airways are very sensitive to irritating factors such as cold viruses, smoke, allergenic substances, chemicals, and the like. A "cold" for these children usually includes shortness of breath and some degree of wheezing. Bronchiolitis is a viral illness characterized by a slight fever, wheezing, and a cough. It usually occurs in children under the age of two, in the winter and spring. Bronchiolitis is caused by respiratory syncytial virus 75 percent of the time, and can be treated with a breathing nebulizer.

Pneumonia consists of fever, cough, difficult breathing and phlegm production. Severe pneumonia requires hospitalization. Pneumonia is frequently caused by bacteria and requires antibiotics. Croup typically occurs in children between 1 and 3 years of age and presents itself with a characteristic "barking seal" cough, a low-grade fever, and difficult breathing, and usually occurs in winter and spring. Croup is also a viral illness and cannot be killed by antibiotics, though many parents find that they can relieve their child's croup with exposure to cold air.

SIDS

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is defined as the sudden death of an infant due to an unknown cause after a thorough history and investigation of the scene of the death and an autopsy.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Statistics

  • It usually occurs between the ages of two and four months
  • SIDS occurs in approximately one per 1,400 infants
  • The risk of SIDS can be reduced by putting infants to bed on their backs

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Causes
The risk factors for an increased chance of suffering Sudden Infant Death are the following:

  • Smoking during pregnancy
  • Smoking in the house after birth
  • Native American and African American children have the highest instances of SIDS*
  • Drug use such as cocaine or heroin during pregnancy
  • Inadequate prenatal care
  • Male infants
  • Premature birth
  • Recent illness

* Children of Asian, Hispanic, and Pacific Island heritage have the lowest instances of SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Prevention
The American Academy of Pediatrics began a "Back to Sleep" campaign in 1994. Since recommending that infants sleep on their backs instead of facedown, the rate of deaths from SIDS decreased from approximately one per 700 infants to one per 1400 infants.

  • Infants should be placed to sleep on their backs.
  • Cribs that satisfy federal safety standards should be used for young infants.
  • Infants should not sleep in the same bed with a parent or sibling.
  • Infants should not be put to sleep on waterbeds, sofas, or very soft surfaces

Eye Problems

What are the most common types of eye emergencies?

  • Foreign bodies in the eye
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Chemical injuries to the eye
  • Eye trauma
  • Infection of the skin around the eye (orbital cellulitis)

How are eye problems treated?

Foreign bodies in the eye
A spray bottle of saline used for rinsing contact lenses is sometimes useful in flushing foreign bodies out of the eye. In some cases, however, the foreign body will not be visible because it will be hidden under the upper or lower lid. In these cases, the child should be evaluated by either a physician or your nearest emergency department.

Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
Pink eye or conjunctivitis is either an infection or allergic reaction of the eye. Your doctor will determine whether an infection or allergic reaction is present. Patients who have infections will be treated with antibiotic eye drops and those with allergic reactions will be treated with the appropriate anti-allergy eye drops.

Chemical injuries to the eye
Any time the eye is exposed to chemicals, it should immediately be flushed with tap water or the saline solution used for rinsing contact lenses. The most dangerous chemicals are caustic solutions such as drain cleaners or alkalitic chemicals. These require continuous flushing with either water or saline for at least 20-30 minutes.

Eye Trauma
Patients who are punched in the eye or hit in the eye by a baseball or other object need to be evaluated carefully by a physician. Several injuries can occur, including:

  • hyphema, which is blood in the anterior portion of the cornea of the eye
  • orbital fractures, which are fractures of the bone around the eye
  • retinal detachment, which results in loss of vision

Fractures of the bones around the eye are serious because they may cause the eye to move improperly if one of the eye muscles gets caught in the fracture. In addition, these fractures in the bone around the eye can cause what is called retinal detachment. A retinal detachment involves the area inside the eye that allows us to see. Retinal detachments can occur several days after an eye trauma. It is important to do an eye exam and measure the patient's vision accurately with an eye chart.

Diabetes
Diabetes is a disease that is caused by a lack of or resistance to insulin, and results in a high blood sugar level. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas to digest blood sugar, which is used as energy by the body.

What are the types of diabetes?

  • Type I diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin in the body. Children with Type I require insulin injections.
  • Type II diabetes occurs when the body is resistant to insulin. These children can be treated with oral pills and diet control instead of insulin injections.

What are the warning signs of diabetes?

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Weight loss
  • Urinating at night
  • Increased appetite
  • Dehydration

What are the risk factors for diabetes?
Diabetes is genetic, so if a parent or a close relative has diabetes, the child has an increased risk of getting it. Obesity is also a risk factor for diabetes. In fact, the numbers of children with Type II diabetes has been increasing significantly due to the epidemic of childhood obesity. Weight control and good nutrition can help prevent juvenile diabetes.

What are the complications of diabetes?

  • Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia
  • Diabetic coma
  • Progressive damage to the kidneys
  • Damage to the eyes and gradual loss of vision
  • Increased risk of heart attacks
  • Ulcers on the feet that can result in gangrene

Asthma
Asthma is a disease that causes shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughs in children. It affects 6 out of 100 of children in the United States. Children with asthma usually have normal breathing between their attacks of asthma. However, children with more severe forms may have mild wheezing even when they are at their best.

What causes asthma?
No one knows exactly what causes asthma. However, experts believe that the factors that may contribute to the development of asthma include genetics (such as having parents who have asthma or allergies) and certain infections during early childhood.

What can trigger an asthma attack?
Children with asthma have lungs that are very sensitive to certain substances. Their airways become inflamed when exposed to substances such as:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Air pollution
  • Animal hair
  • Dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Cockroaches
  • Molds
  • Sulfites
  • Infections
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Changes in weather
  • Strong odors
  • Active exercise

What are some of the medications used to treat asthma?
Bronchodilators are the main medications used to treat asthma. These help dilate or open the airways in the lungs. There are muscles in the airways of the lungs and these medications help relax the muscles in the airways so that children can breathe better. Most of the bronchodilators are inhaler-type medicines. They can be the carry-along type or the nebulizer machine–type medicine.

Steroids are also used to treat asthma. They are excellent medicines when used properly and work by decreasing the inflammation in the airways of the lungs and thereby decrease the wheezing.

How do I know whether my child should go to the emergency room?
Parents and children should know how to use a peak flow meter. The peak flow meter tells you how quickly your child can blow air out of their lungs and measure how severe the asthma attack is. Depending on your child's height and weight, a peak flow measurement will determine if your child is in the green, yellow or red zone.

  • Green zone: over 80% of personal best peak flow
  • Yellow zone: 50-80 % of child's personal best peak flow
  • Red zone: under 50 % of personal best peak flow

Children in the red zone should immediately go to the ER. Children in the yellow zone may be treated with nebulizer treatments at home but if there is no improvement after several treatments, go to the doctor or the ER. Children in the green zone are the mildest cases and can usually be treated at home with nebulizers or an inhaler. They frequently will get better.

Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions can be frightening for both parent and child. It is important that parents know the warning signs of an allergic reaction.

What are signs of an allergic reaction?

The most common indications of an allergic reaction include:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Wheezing (sometimes)
  • Shortness of breath (sometimes—in more severe cases)
  • Low blood pressure in severe cases of anaphylactic shock

What are the most common causes?

  • Drugs such as penicillin, aspirin, Ibuprofen, and similar drugs
  • Food or food additives such as nuts, milk, eggs, shellfish, wheat, soybeans, monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates and nitrites, and tartrazine dyes
  • Insect bites, honeybees, wasps, yellow jackets, fire ants
  • Dyes used for X-ray procedures

How are allergic reactions treated?
Children with mild allergic reactions who have no trouble breathing and a localized area of hives can usually be treated at home. Children can be given Benadryl four times a day for the itching and hives. However, if your child has had severe reactions in the past, then you need to bring him or her to an ER promptly to prevent a serious reaction from occurring again.

How serious are bee stings?
Approximately 100 people die each year from bee stings. If you have a severe reaction to a bee sting in the past, you should talk to your doctor about getting a special type of pen which can be used to inject epinephrine into your body. Other medications that physicians use to treat allergic reactions include steroids.

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