Chronic health conditions and diseases are very stressful for children as they require extensive medical treatment and frequent hospitalization. These conditions may persist from 3 months of age!
A chronic illness can affect a child socially and emotionally to a great extent. Children receiving special treatment or having a visible disability can be singled out from a group because of the apparent difference. Circumstantial differences can cause the child with a peculiar health condition to be left alone and suffer from trauma. As a mom, caution is paramount!
Common Chronic Diseases in Children &Treatment
1. Cystic Fibrosis (CF) in Children
CF is a life-threatening genetic disease leaving the child prone to lung congestion, breathing difficulties and finally lung damage. A child with CF has a faulty gene that interferes with the movement of sodium chloride in and out of the cells. This results in thick and heavy mucus, salty sweat and thickened digestive juices – a state of disrupted normal body functions and poor growth.
The child must get vaccinated against diseases like Hib (Haemophilus influenza type B) and pertussis and also get annual flu shots. Regular medical care makes sure that the child’s sputum (saliva or mucus) is tested for the reason behind infection. If the symptoms aggravate, the kid may have to be admitted in the hospital for intravenous antibiotics.
2. Hepatitis in Children
This condition leads to inflammation of the liver. The hepatitis A virus is carried in the stool and easily spreads from one person to another, while the hepatitis B virus is transmitted through blood and other interstitial fluids. Symptoms in both cases include fever, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite and jaundice in children.
Hepatitis A can be prevented through vaccination that keeps the infection at bay for 20 years. It is administered in two doses that are given at a gap of six months, during the ages of 12 and 24 months. Hepatitis B can also be prevented through vaccination and protects a child for 15 years. It is given in three doses – from birth to two months of age, between one to four months and finally during 6 to 18 months.
If the mother is infected with the disease, the first shot is given within 12 hours of birth along with immune globulin, the second one between one and two months, and the last one at six months. Moms must also remember to maintain hygiene such as washing hands thoroughly after changing diapers and before preparing food.
3. Sickle Cell Anemia in Children
It is an inherited blood disorder in which normal, round and flexible red blood cells become crescent shaped and stiff. As a result, they get stuck in the blood vessels and prevent the transport of oxygen in the body. The child may undergo episodes of pain, spleen problems, acute chest syndrome, eye problems and jaundice.
There is no cure for sickle cell anemia but medication can lessen the pain and prevent viral or bacterial infection from spreading. If the pain is excruciating, the child may have to be hospitalised. Penicillin is said to reduce the risk of the disease, so the child can be given a daily dose from 2 months to 5 years of age. Some experts also suggest folic acid supplements to boost the production of red blood cells.
4. Diabetes in Children
This is not just an adult problem but one of the most common chronic diseases in children too. It causes unhealthy levels of sugar in the child’s body. In a healthy child, digestive juices break down food into glucose. This is acted upon by insulin, secreted from the pancreas, to move the glucose from blood to the cells. But in type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is no longer healthy enough to produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas does produce insulin but the body is not able to absorb it.
There is no cure for diabetes either. However, proper medication, diet and exercise can lessen the effects on the child’s body. It is important to keep a tab on the blood sugar levels of the child on a daily basis. The kid will need insulin shots that can be given at home and frequent checkups from a caregiver.
Bringing up a child with a chronic health condition can be draining for you as a mom. Don’t be disheartened as medical science is improving each day. Stay involved, consult with your doctor and plan for better life procedures to give your little one a normal, healthy life.