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Common Concerns

Common Childhood Diseases

Chicken Pox

Chicken Pox is a highly contagious childhood disease. It is known for a blister-like rash and itching. Chicken Pox is caused by a virus and the only treatment is to help relieve the symptoms. Once a child is exposed, the incubation period is 14-21 days. The typical rash goes through these stages:

  • A prodrome of cold-like symptoms 24 hours before the rash appears which consists of a low-grade temperature, mild congestion and possibly a cough.
  • The rash appears as small blisters on a red base, usually first on the trunk and then moving to the extremities and face. The vesicles tend to appear in “crops” with two to four crops appearing within two to five days. As the vesicles break, scabs appear.
  • Your child remains contagious until all of the vesicles are scabbed. This takes 10 days.

How to treat Chicken Pox

  1. Keep your child cool and comfortable, and avoid close contact with other children.
  2. Acetaminophen is okay, but never use aspirin or ibuprofen (AdvilMotrin).
  3. Cool or tepid baths with baking soda or Aveeno’s Oatmeal Bath may be used for itching.
  4. Benadryl Elixir also may be taken orally for the itching. You can purchase it over the counter as well as Caladryl lotion which can be used topically.
  5. Keep the child’s fingernails short.

Call Pediatrix if your child gets Chicken Pox, so we can document it in the chart. We would be concerned about:

  • A persistent fever of 101° or higher lasting longer than four or five days.
  • Persistent cough or labored, fast, or heavy breathing.
  • Severe headache, stiff neck or persistent vomiting.
  • Sore ears.
  • If the chicken pox lesions start to look infected or if you see any streaking form any of the lesions.

There is now an immunization to prevent Chicken Pox (Varivax).

Croup

Simple croup is an acute infection, which involves the vocal cords, the windpipe and the bronchial tubes. It is usually caused by a virus and will last form 5-7 days.

Croup, like a cold in the nose, causes swelling and increased mucus production in the lining of the windpipe, bronchial tubes, and of the vocal cords. The typical barking cough and noisey breathing of croup is caused by your child breathing through narrowed passages due to the swelling and mucus production.

Use the humidifier, give plenty of fluids, and keep the environment cool. A cool humid environment helps keep the swelling of the vocal cords, windpipe and bronchial tubes down, and helps to make the mucus thinner and easier to handle. You may also take your child into a steamy bathroom for 20 minutes to help loosen the mucus. Taking your child outside for 20-50 minutes may help, (the cold air shrinks the swelling).

Do not use cold and cough preparations, unless instructed to do so, they make the mucous thicker and harder to handle. You should contact us and let us know that your child is ill with the croup. We may want to see your child to make sure that there are no other problems.

Ear Infection

At least one episode of otitis media will be experienced by 85 percent of all children during their first five years of life. Otitis media means inflammation of eustachian tube, the narrow passageway from behind the eardrum to the nose and throat area. It’s purpose is to equalize air pressure between the middle ear and the air outside the ear.

With a cold, allergies or even teething, the eustachian tube may become blocked. Fluid builds up behind the eardrum and leads to infection, causing pain. The buildup of fluid causes hearing to become muffled. A feeling of blockage in the ear, persistent pain and temporary loss of hearing are symptoms of otitis media.

An ear infection may be treated with antibiotics. Pediatrix will ask you to return after the treatment to make sure your child has responded well to the medicine and to insure that all of the infection is gone. Some thought is being given to keep using antibiotics for the first 2 days in an ear infection.

Persistence of pus or fluid behind the eardrum can cause impaired hearing and may lead to permanent damage. At the time of the checkup, Pediatrix may perform a TYMPANOGRAM on your child. This is a simple, non-painful test to measure the air pressure in the middle ear. It tells us if the eustachian tube is functioning properly.

Can you prevent ear infections? Probably not. There seems to be a genetic tendency toward getting them. Some studies have shown that babies who have chronic otitis media should not be fed a bottle lying down. There is an increase incidence of otitis in children who are exposed to smoke from tobacco.

In an effort to prevent the buildup of fluid behind the eardrum, an antihistamine/decongestant may be recommended as soon as nasal congestion begins. Occasionally, Pediatrix may leave your child on a maintenance dose of antibiotics to prevent an ear infection from developing during teething or the flu season. Each child is treated individually. The most important things to remember are to give the medication as directed and to get adequate follow-up.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is an eye infection that causes redness on the white part of the eye together with a yellow discharge in the corner. Infants often have a blocked lacrimal duct, the passage from the eye into the nose. If the duct is blocked, the baby’s eyes will water and may form some discharge off and on. Massaging the area between the eye and the nose with your finger several times a day may help to open the tear duct. If there is a consistent discharge, Pediatrix may prescribe an antibiotic solution to be placed in the eye and alert you to watch for these signs:

  • No improvement after being on eye drops after 24-24 hours.
  • Increased redness or swelling of the eyelid, or skin around the eye.
  • High fever or irritability.

If you’re aware of any accidents or injuries to the eye, please notify Pediatrix.