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Pneumonia and Bronchitis are two illnesses that can have many harmful effects. Unfortunately, when children contract it, they experience excoriating pain and if gone untreated, there can be grave consequences. It is important to stay informed and understand the signs of these viruses and illnesses to prevent your child from having any long-term consequences.
Pneumonia is a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. The lungs are made up of small sacs called alveoli, which fill with air when a healthy person breathes. When an individual has pneumonia, the alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, which makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake.
Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide. Pneumonia affects children and families everywhere and even though we have amazing healthcare options in our country, our youth is still very much at risk.
The presenting features of viral and bacterial pneumonia are similar. However, the symptoms of viral pneumonia may be more numerous than the symptoms of bacterial pneumonia. In children under 5 years of age who have a cough and/or difficulty breathing, with or without fever, pneumonia is diagnosed by the presence of either fast breathing or lower chest wall indrawing where their chest moves in or retracts during inhalation (in a healthy person, the chest expands during inhalation). Wheezing is more common in viral infections.
There are several ways Pneumonia can spread. The viruses and bacteria that are commonly found in a child’s nose or throat can infect the lungs if they are inhaled. They may also spread via air-borne droplets from a cough or sneeze. In addition, pneumonia may spread through blood, especially during and shortly after birth. More research needs to be done on the different pathogens causing pneumonia and the ways they are transmitted, as this is of critical importance for treatment and prevention.
While most healthy children can fight the infection with their natural defenses, children whose immune systems are compromised are at higher risk of developing pneumonia. A child’s immune system may be weakened by malnutrition or undernourishment, especially in infants who are not exclusively breastfed. Pre-existing illnesses, such as symptomatic HIV infections and measles, also increase a child’s risk of contracting pneumonia.
Pneumonia is caused by several infectious agents, including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The most common is streptococcus which is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in children. Hemophilus influenza is the second most common cause of bacterial pneumonia, followed by the respiratory syncytial virus which is the most common viral cause of pneumonia.
Preventing pneumonia in children is an essential component of a strategy to reduce child mortality. Immunization against Hib, pneumococcus, measles, and whooping cough (pertussis) is the most effective way to prevent pneumonia. Adequate nutrition is key to improving children’s natural defenses, starting with exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. In addition to being effective in preventing pneumonia, it also helps to reduce the length of the illness if a child does become ill. Addressing environmental factors such as indoor air pollution (by providing affordable clean indoor stoves, for example) and encouraging good hygiene in crowded homes also reduces the number of children who fall ill with pneumonia. In children infected with HIV, the antibiotic cotrimoxazole is given daily to decrease the risk of contracting pneumonia.
If your child’s symptoms are getting worse if he/she has a fever lasting for a few days, breathing problems, trouble drinking fluids, and new symptoms such as neck stiffness or swollen joints, it is time to call your child’s healthcare provider.
Now, it’s time to talk about Bronchitis. What is acute bronchitis in children? Bronchitis is an inflammation of the large breathing tubes in the lungs. The illness can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Acute bronchitis means that the symptoms often develop quickly and don’t last long. Most cases are mild.
Acute bronchitis is most often caused by a viral infection. It may also be caused by bacteria or things such as dust, allergens, strong fumes, or tobacco smoke. In children, the most common cause of acute bronchitis is a virus. The illness may develop after a cold or other viral infection in the nose, mouth, or throat (upper respiratory tract). Such illnesses can spread easily from direct contact with a person who is sick. Children that are more at risk for acute bronchitis are kids that deal with chronic sinusitis, allergies, asthma, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and exposure to secondhand smoke.
Your child’s healthcare provider can often diagnose acute bronchitis with a health history and physical exam. In some cases, your child may need tests to rule out other health problems, such as pneumonia or asthma. These tests may include chest X-rays, pulse oximetry, or sputum and nasal discharge samples.
Treatment will vary depending on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. In nearly all cases, antibiotics should not be used to treat acute bronchitis. That’s because most infections are caused by viruses. Even children who have been coughing for longer than 8 to 10 days often don’t need antibiotics.
It is important to talk with your child’s healthcare provider before giving over-the-counter cough and cold medicine to your child. Most experts do not recommend giving medication to children younger than four years old because it may cause harmful side effects. For children between ages four and six, only use over-the-counter products when recommended by your child’s healthcare provider. It is also important to note, not to give aspirin or medicine that contains aspirin to a child younger than age nineteen unless directed by your child’s provider. Taking aspirin can put your child at risk for Reye syndrome. This is a rare but very serious disorder. It most often affects the brain and the liver.
At the end of the day, pneumonia and bronchitis are two nasty illnesses that are brutal to deal with, but very much treatable. If your child finds themselves struggling with either one, self-care is an option, but Chai Care would be your best option for treatment because our incredible staff of trained experts will supply them with quality care while offering top-notch advice on how to stay healthy!
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.Dec 15, 2022
“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” – Nelson Mandela.
Our obligation as adults is to protect our youth by any means necessary. The best way to do that is by staying informed about new scientific studies and taking advice from medical professionals on how to best help and nurture the children of the world. Because of their lack of knowledge and experience, toddlers depend on us to guide them through all the dangers and illnesses that may come their way. Even the safest and most responsible adults make mistakes now and again, which is why we are going to dive into everything you need to know about—”nursemaid’s elbow”.
When most people hear the words “nursemaid’s elbow” they are surprised to learn that it has anything to do with young children due to its strange name. In simple terms, nursemaid’s elbow occurs when the radius (one of the bones in the forearm) slides out of place from where it is normally attached to the elbow joint. It is a common condition in children younger than four years of age. Other names include pulled elbow, slipped elbow, or toddler’s elbow. The medical term for Nursemaid’s Elbow is “radial head subluxation”.
Let’s say you are out on the town, taking a leisurely stroll with your toddler. The youngster notices something that catches their eye, and they begin to run towards the excitement, when the parent grabs their arm to stop them, pulls too hard, and suddenly contracts the hand or forearm. This causes the radius to slip out of the ligament holding it into the elbow. It can also occur when an infant rolls himself or herself over, from a fall, or from pulling or swinging a young child by the hand. We all love picking up a baby and playing with them, but it’s important not to be too overzealous because the child is not fully developed to withstand such quick movements.
Nursemaid’s elbow is a tricky injury because it usually occurs to toddlers and young children who may not be able to articulate what exactly the problem is, leaving it up to the parent or guardian to figure it out. At first glance, nursemaid’s elbow may not be obvious and can easily go unnoticed, but the child will usually cry from the discomfort. Other important signs to look for would be: if the child avoids moving their arm below the shoulder, supports one arm with the other hand, holds their arm straight or slightly bent and close to the body, or if they refuse to rotate their palm.
In other words: if the child lacks mobility and demonstrates discomfort and flexibility in the arm, there is a good chance they are experiencing nursemaid’s elbow.
Now that you know the symptoms, the next question is:
The simple answer is: Yes.
Normal use of the arm will be painful and inhibited until the injury is corrected, which is why it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. There are certain cases where nursemaid’s elbow has corrected itself, but there is no reason to take that gamble, especially when dealing with children. Let your healthcare provider be the one to examine your child to make sure there are no fractures or breaks and once the examiner does that, they can begin the process of correcting the injury.
After your child has been officially diagnosed by your healthcare provider, they will perform a physical exam and ask a series of questions about what happened at the time of the injury. This physical exam will test your child’s range of motion and see if there is any tenderness at the elbow. The treatment is a simple, but effective physical maneuver called “nursemaid elbow reduction”. Lasting only a few seconds, the healthcare provider will perform the reduction by gently flexing and rotating the arm. If you hear a “pop” sound, don’t be alarmed! This is simply the joint moving back into place. As far as imaging tests are concerned, they often won’t show evidence of nursemaid’s elbow, however, an X-ray can be used to rule out a fracture or break.
Even though you should seek medical attention to have the joint corrected by a professional, there are forms of treatment you can do on your own. There are plenty of over-the-counter drugs to help your child manage the pain and applying ice to the injured area will also help. There are some adults out there who have attempted the correction maneuver themselves, this is not well advised.
Recovery begins immediately after your child’s elbow has been reduced. The best part is your child will only feel pain for a few seconds, but soon after will feel as good as new!
Now that you know what nursemaid’s elbow is and what signs to look for, let’s discuss a few simple ways to prevent this from happening. The best thing to do is avoid pulling or jerking your child by the arm or hand. This may sound simple, but when a child attempts to cross a street before looking both ways or their curiosity gravitates them to something that can harm them, your parental instincts kick in, telling you to pull them out of the way. Even though you are trying to protect them, you may actually hurt them in the process. Another method would be to use verbal cues instead of physical ones to get their attention and lastly, try not to swing your child around by the hands or arms for fun. Many parents do this because it’s entertaining and puts a smile on their child’s face, but this is probably the most common way children suffer from nursemaid’s elbow.
If the healthcare provider has successfully corrected the joint, nursemaid’s elbow should not come back but it is worth noting that a child who has had this injury is more likely to have it again, than someone who hasn’t. This is because the injury stretches the ligaments, making it harder to hold the bone in place. A child who has experienced Nursemaid’s Elbow may have looser ligaments in general too. Fortunately, as children grow, their bones and ligaments will become stronger, making nursemaid’s elbow highly unlikely after a child turns five years old.
We are privileged to live in a country where we have countless urgent care facilities that are staffed with exceptional medical professionals who can easily help if your child experiences nursemaid’s elbow. This is an injury that should not go un-diagnosed and luckily for you, Chai Care will always be here to supply you with the top-notch service and sensitive care that your child deserves!
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.