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H e a l t h & L i f e s t y l e

Although it is distressing to hear your child cough, in fact, coughing serves a purpose. When there is phlegm on the chest, or mucus from the nose runs down the back of the throat, coughing clears it away. Most doctors believe cough mixtures do not work and are a waste of money. To ease your child’s cough, give him or her plenty of warm clear fluids to drink. If your child is over the age of one, try a warm drink of lemon and honey. There is no need to try to stop the cough completely.

If a cough continues for a long time, especially if it is more troublesome at night or is brought on by your child running about, it might be a sign of asthma.

Threadworms Many children get threadworms. They spread by producing large numbers of tiny eggs which cannot be seen with the eye. The eggs are present in dust and stick to food, carpets, towels, bed linen and toilet seats. Because they are so small and widespread, they get on fingers and under finger nails and are easily swallowed. In the bowel they hatch into worms, which lay eggs around the bottom. You’ll see them in your child’s stools, looking like tiny white threads. Your child may have an itchy bottom and may scratch it a lot, especially at night.

If you think your child has worms, see your GP or HV. Everybody in the family has to be treated because the threadworm eggs spread very easily.

To prevent the infection spreading; Keep your child’s nails short. Let your child wear pyjamas or pants in bed. Bath your child or wash around the bottom each morning. Keep your child’s towel separate. Make sure everyone in the family washes their hands before every meal and after going to the toilet.

Diarrhoea If your child is having foods with a lot of fibre, or wholemeal foods, reduce these. Give white bread, pasta and white rice instead of wholemeal varieties.

Contact your GP if your child is also vomiting, as there may be significant fluid loss. Also, if the diarrhoea is particularly watery, has blood in it, or goes on for longer than two or three days or your child has severe or continuous tummy ache, then see a GP.

Otherwise diarrhoea isn’t usually worrying – just give your child plenty of clear drinks

to replace the fluid that’s been lost, but only give food if it’s wanted. Do not give anti-diarrhoeal drugs unless prescribed by your GP. To help to prevent any infection spreading by using separate towels for your child and by reminding everyone in the family to wash their hands after using the toilet and before eating.

Ear Infections Ear infections are common in babies and small children. They often follow a cold and sometimes cause a bit of a temperature. Your child may pull or rub at an ear, but babies can’t always tell where pain is coming from and may just cry and seem unwell and uncomfortable. If your child has earache but is otherwise well, paracetamol can be given for up to 48 hours. Do not put any oil or eardrops into your child’s ear unless advised by your GP. After an ear infection, your child may have a hearing problem for two to six weeks. If the problem persists after this time you should see your GP for further advice.

Repeated bouts of middle ear infections (called otitis media) may lead to ‘glue ear’ (otitis media with effusion). Here sticky fluid builds up and can affect your child’s hearing. If you smoke, your child is more likely to develop glue ear and will not get better so

quickly. Never bottle feed your baby if he or she is lying down and do not let your child drink milk laying down if he or she has repeated ear infections. The milk may go into the short tube between the ear and throat (Eustachian tube) and cause irritation. 

In Part II Jon tackles Croup, Eczema, Fibril Convulsions, Fever and Meningitis.

Summer 2009 27

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