Sunday, 27 July 2008

Croup - how to help

Most mums who have had a child with croup can recognise it straight away it causes a cough that is so distinctive that you will never forget it once you hear it. Croup is a swelling of the voice box and windpipe it can be caused by bacteria, or inhaled irritants, allergy, but more often it's the result of a virus and as such is contagious. Croup is most common in children between the ages of 6 months to 3 years, although a child can get croup at any age. The illness seems to be more prevalent between the months of October and March. Most cases of croup today are not serious, but a severe case can require hospitalization. If you suspect croup always get it checked out by a medical practitioner just to be certain.


  • A very hoarse, deep cough that sounds like a barking seal, this cough is very distinctive once your hear it you will know if you hear it again and any G.P. will pick it up just by listening to the bark
  • It often appears after several days of cold symptoms and usually worsens at night.
    they may also run a low fever
  • It is often worst the first two or three nights, and it usually goes away in a week or so.

Warning: if you child’s breathing is difficult or there is a change in the colour of your child’s lips to a bluish colour then it is best to get your child to hospital immediately.


If your child has a mild case of croup the doctor will give you advice as to how to improve the symptoms and possibly medication to help reduce the swelling. You must make every effort to keep your child hydrated so get as much fluid into them as you can. You can give children painkillers to help reduce the temperature but always check that they are suitable for your child. It may help if you take the child into a steamy bathroom for 20 min, this will help to open the air ways.

If your child has a severe case of croup that requires hospitalization, they may be given oxygen, a medication to inhale, or steroids to help reduce the swelling of the airways. They will probably be given intravenous fluids to combat dehydration.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Conjunctivitis (red or pink eye)

We have all seen kids running around with bright red eyes that look sore and angry, hence the name red eye. If the whites of one or both of your child's eyes and the lower rim of their eyelids are red, chances are they have an infection called conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye or red-eye, always get this checked out by a doctor before you use any treatment.

The infection occurs when a virus, some bacteria, an allergen, or some other substance inflames the transparent membrane covering the white of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids (the conjunctiva).
As your toddler's system tries to fight the infection, their eyes may water or become crusty. It's important that you treat the infection quickly, so its best to visit your G.P. as soon as you see the symptoms.

Types of conjunctivitis
There are three types of conjunctivitis, bacterial, viral and allergic, each is described below

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis - If bacterial conjunctivitis is the culprit, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic ointment or drops for you to use on your child's eyes for about seven days.
  • Viral conjunctivitis - Viral conjunctivitis usually clears up on its own in a week or so. Your doctor will advise you to keep the area clean by gently washing your toddler's eyes with warm water and rubbing away the dried discharge. If your child eyes haven't improved after two weeks, let your doctor know.

Warning: Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are extremely contagious. To keep this kind of infection from spreading, you'll need to wash your hands after every contact with your child's eyes. Keep their towels, clothing, and bedding separate from yours, and wash these items regularly. The infection will continue to be contagious until the symptoms are gone, so if your toddler goes to a nursery, you'll need to keep him home until then.

  • Allergic conjunctivitis - Since allergic conjunctivitis is the result of your child's having been exposed to an irritating substance, you need to identify the allergen and try to keep them away from it. If your toddler's eyes are making them uncomfortable, you can soothe them with over-the-counter or prescription eye drops from your G.P. These drops are made especially for allergic conjunctivitis but always be careful to make sure that the medicine is suitable for your child.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Colic - what to do

Colic or wind is common in small babies it is caused by small bubbles of air trapped in your baby’s stomach or bowels and this in turn can cause tummy ache which can be very distressing for your baby, they can seem restless or niggled or they may cry if they have wind.
It is thought that breastfed babies may get less wind than bottle fed babies, as they may take in less air, but they still do get wind. If you’re feeding your baby with a bottle, make sure that the bottle is tipped up enough so that the teat is always full of milk. This can help to reduce the amount of air the baby swallows.

  • they may have a bluish tinge on the skin, between their top lip and nose
  • your baby is restless or crying and may be pulling legs up to their tummy
  • they may grimace and look like they are smiling but appear uncomfortable.
After a feed if your child is not settling it is best to spend a few moments trying to get up their wind this maybe achieved by:
  • Putting your child over your shoulder or sitting them on your knee with their heads supported and gently rubbing or patting their back, many feel that rubbing is now more effective that the traditional method of patting but the choose is yours it worked for our mums
  • Try to be patient if they don’t get any wind up straight away, try for a few minutes but not longer as they may simply not have wind, or just a small gurgle in his tummy could be a sign that any wind has escaped.

If you are concerned, discuss your worries with your midwife or health visitor, they may suggest other forms of help such as colic drops. However, it is important that you read the label as they are not all suitable for newborn babies

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Chicken Pox

Chicken pox, also called varicella, it is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which passes from person to person with remarkable ease, it typically causes an itchy rash that starts out as small red bumps. These bumps quickly change into clear, fluid-filled blisters on a pink base, which eventually become dry brown crusts. New waves of blisters often spring up as the illness progresses. The rash often appears first on the scalp, face, or trunk, it can then spread over the entire body. Children usually get between 250 and 500 blisters, although it's possible to have just a few. Many children get tired and slightly feverish, they may loose their appetite and have a mild headache or abdominal pain. Before the rash appears they may have a cough or a runny nose. Chicken pox usually lasts five to ten days.

People with chicken pox can pass the virus along by touching someone after touching the blisters or coughing or sneezing onto their hand, or by releasing it into the air whenever they sneeze, cough, or even breathe. The virus can also spread from direct contact with the fluid from the blisters before they crust over. Children are most contagious the day or two before the rash erupts, usually before parents know their child is sick. Once your toddler has been exposed to the virus, it usually takes 14 to 16 days for the pustules to appear, although they can show up anytime between ten and 21 days. In most cases it is a pain in the neck more than a danger to your child but in very rare cases it can cause serious complications, like a bacterial skin infection, pneumonia or encephalitis, a swelling of the brain. It is best to contact a doctor if your child has chicken pox, if you toddler seems sicker than expected, if they develops a fever after the first few days, if the rash spreads to their eyes, or if the skin around the pox becomes swollen, painful, or very red or if you have any concerns.

Adult who get chicken pox generally get shingles, shingles is the same virus that causes chicken pox can cause a painful rash in adults. When a child has chicken pox, the virus remains in the body and can reappear as shingles many years later. This happens to about one in ten adults who had chicken pox earlier in life.

It may seem like an impossible task, but try to keep your toddler from picking and scratching their sores, as this can slow the healing process. Sores that aren't allowed to heal can leave scars. You can alleviate the itching with calamine lotion applied to each sore and keeping your child's nails short can help. You can bring down the fever with children painkillers but always read the label to be sure it is safe for your toddler

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs and airways. If your toddler has asthma, these airways are irritated and swollen, and this can affect their ability to breathe. It's important that you work with your child's doctor to prevent and treat asthma attacks, they will probably prescribe medication to prevent attacks. With the right medications, education, an asthma action plan, and regular medical follow-ups, most asthmatic children do just fine.

Asthma attacks

If your toddler has an acute asthma attack, the lining of their airways becomes even more inflamed and produces more mucus, the muscles around the airways tighten. They may breathe rapidly, cough, wheeze, or whistle as the breath is forced through the narrowed airways. If left untreated or if there's a delay in seeking medical attention, asthma attacks can be deadly. As soon as you notice symptoms of an attack, promptly give your child the inhaler prescribed by his doctor. If you have none or this is their first attack call an ambulance. Once the medicine opens his breathing tubes, the symptoms should subside. If the symptoms persist or get worse call an ambulance.

Allergy’s and asthma

Exposure to allergens such as dust mites, mould, pollens, or animal dander can trigger or worsen symptoms in some children with asthma, his condition is referred to as allergic asthma. Seasonal allergies to outdoor pollens, hay fever won't usually be a problem until your child is 4 or 5 because it can take that long to develop sensitivity to them. Allergies to dust mites mould, or animal dander may develop earlier in life, though. If your toddler has asthma and you know or suspect they have allergies, you may want to take him to an allergist for further evaluation and treatment to help prevent allergic asthma attacks. Other common asthma triggers include cold air, viral infections, smoke, or just plain running around.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Asperger syndrome

Asperger syndrome is a classed as a type of autism which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a 'spectrum disorder' because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees. There are over half a million people in the UK with an autism spectrum disorder - that's around 1 in 100. People with Asperger syndrome come from all nationalities, cultures, social backgrounds and religions. However, the condition appears to be more common in males than females; the reason for this is unknown.

Asperger syndrome is mostly a 'hidden disability'. This means that you can't tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are:

social communication
social interaction
Social imagination

While there are similarities with autism, people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy.

The characteristics of Asperger syndrome vary from person to person but are usually split into three main groups.

Social communication - People with Asperger syndrome sometimes find it difficult to express themselves emotionally and socially. For example, they may:
have difficulty understanding gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice
have difficulty knowing when to start or end a conversation and choosing topics to talk about
use complex words and phrases but may not fully understand what they mean
Be very literal in what they say and can have difficulty understanding jokes, metaphors and sarcasm.

Social interaction - Many people with Asperger syndrome want to be sociable but have difficulty with initiating and sustaining social relationships, which can make them very anxious. For example they may:
find it difficult to understand the action of other people they may find them unpredictable and confusing
Find it difficult to make or maintain friendships
Often they may behave in what can be interpreted by other as an unacceptable manner.
Find it hard to understand the unwritten 'social rules' that most of us pick up without thinking, e.g. they may invade a persons personal space not realising that that may make them uncomfortable.
They may seem withdrawn, shy or possibly ignorant or rude

Social imagination
People with Asperger syndrome can be imaginative in the conventional use of the word. For example, many are accomplished writers, artists and musicians. But can have difficulty with social imagination. For example:
imagining alternative outcomes to situations and finding it hard to predict what will happen next
Understanding or interpreting other peoples thoughts, feelings or actions. The subtle messages that are put across by facial expression and body language are often completely missed
Having a limited range of imaginative activities, which can be pursued rigidly and repetitively e.g. lining up toys or collecting and organising things related to his or her interest. Some children with Asperger syndrome may find it difficult to play 'let's pretend' games or prefer subjects rooted in logic and systems, such as mathematics.

Other characteristics

People with aspergers often show other characteristics such as:

Love of routines - many try and make the world less confusing, and may have rules and rituals (ways of doing things) which they insist upon and if they can not perform them they may get anxious or upset.

Special interests - many have an intense, sometimes obsessive, interest in a hobby or collecting.

Sensory difficulties - may have sensory difficulties. These can occur in one or all of the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste). The degree of difficulty varies from one individual to another. Most commonly, an individual's senses are either intensified or underdeveloped.

The exact cause of Asperger syndrome is still being investigated. However, research suggests that a combination of factors - genetic and environmental - may account for changes in brain development. It is very important to remember that we know what it is not caused by, Asperger syndrome is not caused by a person's upbringing, their social circumstances and is not the fault of the individual with the condition.

There is currently no cure as such and no specific treatment for Asperger syndrome. Children with Asperger syndrome become adults with Asperger syndrome. There are many approaches, therapies and interventions, which can improve an individual's quality of life. These may include communication-based interventions, behavioural therapy and dietary changes.