Information about common eye problems, including tips on home management, self care, and when to contact a doctor, for common opthalmologic problems. While the information is relevant to everyone, special stress will be given to issues that are common in India.
Common Problems & Diseases
This is a post that I recent wrote for a newspaper due to the present scare in Shimla about hepatitis A epidemic.
Most of us are aware of and have probably been vaccinated against hepatitis B. Given the fact that so many of us are protected from hepatitis B, have you ever wondered why we still have so many cases of jaundice especially in the months of summers and monsoons? The reason is jaundice due to poor food, water and sanitation, meaning hepatitis A and hepatitis E virus.
The most important thing to realize that taking hepatitis B vaccination will not protect you against these forms of jaundice since they are caused by a different virus. Today we are going to talk in some more details about Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis means inflammation (swelling) of the liver. While there are many infections that can cause this, in India the commonest cause in children and one of the most common causes in adults is Hepatitis A. Hepatitis A virus is spread from person to person by putting something in the mouth that has been contaminated with the stool of a person with hepatitis A. This type of transmission is called fecal-oral. For this reason, the virus is more easily spread in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions or where good personal hygiene is not observed. Casual contact, as in the usual office, factory, or school setting, does not spread the virus. Persons with hepatitis A virus infection may or may not have any signs or symptoms of the disease. Older persons are more likely to have symptoms than children.
If symptoms are present, they usually occur abruptly and may include
- loss of appetite,
- abdominal discomfort,
- dark urine, and
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
Symptoms usually last less than 2 months; a few persons are ill for as long as 6 months. The average incubation period (i.e., time taken from transmission from one person to the other) for hepatitis A is 28 days (range: 15–50 days).
The diagnosis cannot be made without doing a blood test (IgM Hepatitis A antibody- cost approx. Rs. 600/-), since the symptoms of all types of hepatitis are the same. Other tests like the liver function tests are useful in finding out the extent of the disease. The good news is that once you have the disease, you develop antibodies that provide life-long protection from future infections. After recovering from hepatitis A, you will never get it again and you cannot transmit the virus to others.
Treatment is essentially supportive, and with adequate rest and minimum use of anti-fever and anti – vomiting medicines a patient should generally recover within 15- 30 days. However 15 % of patients (mostly adults) may have a prolonged course of illness lasting even as long as 6-9 months!
Prevention rests on maintaining a good personal hygiene. Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing or eating food. Avoid outside food and water especially food that is undercooked uncooked (like salad etc.). Since proper food and water in India is still a pipe-dream, a more feasible way is to take the Hepatitis A vaccine. This is a very safe and highly effective vaccine (more than 90 % effective) with no major side-effects. It can be given to anyone above 1 year of age. Two doses are needed for life long protection and these need to be given 6 months apart. The vaccine is effective a month after the first dose is given.
With proper cooking habits, care about water and outside food and proper vaccination at the right time, we can ensure that we do not have to suffer Hepatitis A disease.
I recently had a 3 year old child from Canada. The parents that thier child had possibly a recurrent pinworm infection (as stated by their health care provider). On detailed questioning it was found that the child enjoyed rubbing her genitals against any surface, as opposed to scratching with her fingers. This suggested a diagnosis of masturbation.
The following information is by Dr. Barton Schmitt, and taken from the Virtual hospital website. This may come as a shock, but it is estimated that almost 30% of toddlers and preschoolers masturbate. Masturbation is self-stimulation of the genitals for pleasure and self-comfort. It is a normal, healthy activity at any age. During masturbation, children usually rub themselves with their hands. Girls may rock against an object such as a stuffed animal or pillow. Children usually appear dazed, flushed, and preoccupied while they are masturbating. These children have discovered masturbation during normal exploration of their bodies and it continues because it feels good. Masturbation becomes frequent only if the child is pressured to stop. That invites a power struggle.
Try these approaches instead:
- First, set realistic goals. It’s impossible to eliminate masturbation. All that you can control is where it occurs. Accept it in the bedroom or bathroom or at nap time.
- Second, ignore masturbation at naptime or at bedtime. Don’t check on your child at these times.
- Third, distract your child from masturbation at other times. Try a toy or a new activity. If this fails, send your child to his room. You can’t ignore it, or your child will feel he can masturbate anywhere. Your child will catch on to privacy and modesty somewhere between the ages of four and six.
- Fourth, be sure no one punishes your child for this. It’s counterproductive.
- Finally, if you’re having trouble accepting this normal behavior, talk with your child’s doctor.
Please remember that there is no sexual element in preschooler masturbation, it is just a pleasurable sensation generated by self-exploration, do not let your guilt, feeling about sex influence your attitude towards the child. Try to be nonchalant about the whole thing, and inform the child that it is inappropriate to carry out this activity in public. In a way, it would be equivalent to thumb-sucking or any similar activity that the child indulges in while he is bored or alone. You can get more information about common pediatric disease at Charak Clinics
Bedwetting is an extremely common pediatric problem. This is under diagnosed due to unnecessary shame and guilt associated with it among parents and even children.
Common Facts & Myths about Enuresis
First the stats
Almost 10 % of 10 year old kids wet the bed occasionally, you are not alone!
After the age of 5 years only 15 % children will become dry every year without treatment.
In most cases treatment of bedwetting should begin between 6-7 years only, anything before that and there is good chance that your kid will grow out of it.
Bedwetting is a developmental issue, something the child does during sleep without prior knowledge. Do NOT blame / punish the child or yourself. Your kid is not being lazy or stubborn, he really does not know. What the child needs is reassurance and encouragement.
Bedwetting tends to run in families, so if it is true, telling the child’s daddy used to do this may help increase their self esteem.
TREATMENT Options simplified:
Before going to the doctor Sleep half an hour early – a less tired child is going to sleep light and therefore is more likely to wake up to go to the bathroom.
Lots of water in the day, restricted fluid at bedtime (not more than half a glass 2 hours before sleeping), avoid caffeine (carbonated fizzy drinks).
Star chart and positive reinforcement – Put stars (or stickers) on a calendar in the child’s room for every dry night. IF the child remains dry continuously for a few days, give him some small reward (if this does not work for around 15 days, get a doctor’s opinion).
Just what the doctor ordered
Remember that any bed wetting beyond 6-7 years can have a lot of social consequences like other kids making fun of the child, difficulty in sleeping over with friends and relatives etc. More importantly only about 1 in 6 kids every year will outgrow this problem after this age spontaneously, therefore get it treated.
3 major treatment options are:
DDAVP – It is a hormone that is usually present in the body and this leads to a decreased urine production at night. It is said that a deficiency of this hormone may lead to bedwetting, therefore treating the child with a tablet or a nasal spray may be useful for preventing bedwetting. This is especially very effective for emergencies like social occasions nightouts etc. where rapid control is needed. The only problem is that long term treatment is needed since on stopping this medicine there is a high chance that bedwetting will recur.
Bedwetting alarms are now available at leading pharmacies in India too, and over a period of around 3 months they are very useful in decreasing stopping bedwetting altogether. For quicker relief these may be combined with DDAVP.
Imipramine tablets are a cheaper treatment option however these have significant side-effects like nervousness, tiredness and intestinal problems.
Remember for most kids bedwetting is nothing more than an inconvenience or at worse a social problem.
WHEN TO WORRY?
If a previously dry child starts bedwetting
Daytime bedwetting in an older child amy be because of Diabetes, Urinary tract infection or psychological problems like sibling rivalry etc.
Any other associated symptoms like urgency while passing urine, fever, abdominal pain etc.
Fevers are fact of life for most children. In most cases they are nothing to worry about, but it is important to monitor the symptoms closely and to seek medical advice if they persist.
What is a fever ?
Fever has been defined as a body temperature elevated to at least 1F above the normal of 98.6F (37.0C). A baby’s temperature normally varies by as much as 2F, depending on the temperature of his surroundings, clothing worn, degree of stress, level of activity or time of day.
What prompts a fever?
In most cases a fever is the body’s reaction to an acute viral or bacterial infection. Raising the temperature helps create an inhospitable environment for viral or bacterial invaders, it also stimulates the production of disease-fighting white blood cells.
Why are babies prone to fevers?
The body’s temperature control system is not well developed in babies. Infant and childhood fevers can be caused by a number of different factors including: * Overexertion * Dehydration * Mosquito bites * Bee stings * Allergic reactions * Viral or bacteria infections
What are the symptoms?
Typical symptoms of a fever include coughing, aches or pains, an inability to sleep and shivering. Other symptoms include poor appetite, lethargy and prolonged irritability. In some cases breathing may be difficult.
What are the treatments?
Dehydration is a risk for infants, and a feverish baby should always be given lots of fluids. A child with a temperature of less than 102F (38.8C) does not always require immediate medical attention. The child should be observed, and help sought if the symptoms appear to get worse, or the fever does not subside within 24 hours. A child with a temperature of 102F or higher should be given paracetamol. A doctor or pharmacist should be consulted for a recommended dose. A doctor’s advice should always be sought for a child whose temperature is 104F (40C) or higher. Children should not be given aspirin. Several studies link aspirin use in children with Reye’s Syndrome a severe illness that often is fatal.
Are there danger signs?
Certain symptoms, when combined with a fever, warrant an immediate call to the doctor. These include: * Red spots on the skin, sensitive eyes and runny nose (measles) * Red, itchy spots (chicken pox) * Stiffness in the neck or headache (a sign of a more severe infection) Febrile seizures Occasionally, a child with a fever will have a seizure. This is called a febrile seizure, and it demands immediate attention from a doctor. The seizures do not seem to be related to the height of the fever, or to the rapidity with which it rises, but a small number of children seem to be predisposed to attacks. About 50% of the children who suffer one febrile seizure will go on to have another one. About 33% will have a third one. While waiting for a doctor to arrive, it is important to follow basic instructions: * Keep the child upright and make sure they are breathing well * Stay with the child and talk reassuringly * Watch for changes in breathing, and make sure that the airways are kept open * Clear the area to prevent injury * Do not restrain as this can cause additional injury * Try placing a soft pillow or blanket under the child’s head * Loosen clothing to prevent injury and ease discomfort * If vomiting occurs, turn the head to the side so there is no risk of his choking on inhaled vomit.
This page contains basic information. If you are concerned about your health, you should consult a doctor.