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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The importance of hydration in children's health

Water constitutes more than 90% of our bodies and children are no exception. And any decrease in this quantity can adversely affect the body metabolism. Dehydration is a very serious condition that can affect the blood pressure, heart, and kidneys and can cause major damage if not addressed immediately. We learnt the lesson a very hard way.

April is going to start and so does the heat that is going to increase in the summers. This heat can be very dangerous to children who sometimes are very picky in drinking water and simply do not eat or drink anything when they are busy in playing. And we as parents sometimes miss out on taking stock of the water that our child drinks. We do take a note of the number of times he has taken his food but we sometimes miss out on the very important aspect of water which sometimes results in mild to moderate dehydration in children.

We had gone out to the restaurant on a Saturday afternoon but forgot to put a cap on our little one to cover his ears. That’s it. That was too much for his little body to bear and the hot winds blowing through the day got the better of him and he suffered a mild heat stroke; mild for us but horrible for the poor child. He started with a mild fever at night followed by some mild runny nose. But the next morning, his body was a mini furnace with high temperatures. Needless to say, we were scared out of our wits. Luckily our neighbor is a pediatrician and we never have to wait to get an appointment. We rushed him to her and she gave some initial meds to cool off his body and to give relief from the nose block but even she could not diagnose that it was a condition of dehydration.

His fevers continued for the whole day. I took off from work to take care of him. The next day our peds started him on antibiotic, azithromycin, 3 days course to be given once a day. She thought it to be some sort of infection that might be the cause of his problem. A whole day passed with the antibiotic and still the fevers were running high. The baby was getting very cranky and refusing to even eat or sleep, forget about drinking anything. The lack of food, water, and sleep made him very hard to console and he used to cry like hell making us very scared as to the underlying condition. Finally, we took him again in the night to get another checkup to see if the diagnosis was correct or if he needs any change of medications. This time the doctor was also concerned and she ordered an immediate malaria test. At 10:30 p.m. in the night, I virtually ran with my son in hand to the diagnostic center. I should thank God to give me such a wonderful child and wife that they never lost their cool even during such adverse conditions. My kid, despite being so small and innocent, he simply had an underlying determination and resistance and somehow seemed to understand the pain we were in. He was resisting the illness like a diehard soldier. We took him to the diagnostic center where the doctor, with the help of two of his associates, took his blood sample. It was a real torture for my kid but more so for us. We could not bear the picture of our child being held by three people and a big needle inserted into his veins to get a huge quantity of blood. I mean, does he even have that much blood to test? I know I am wrong and it is the father in me who is so afraid but my kid put up a really brave face. He did cry but as soon as I held him up in my arms he stopped somehow afterwards.

After half an hour the reports came and we all heaved a sigh of relief. The test was negative for malaria. It was then that I took the reports to the doctor and she finally diagnosed it as a case of mild heat stroke and advised us to give him plenty of water. Technically, a child should drink 100 mL of water per kilogram of his body, i.e. my son who weighs around 10 kg should be drinking 1L of water while he was drinking hardly the half that amount.

We started intensive oral rehydration program for him. We gave him ORS every 30 minutes. It started to show wonders. The thing that huge doses of paracetamol was not able to do, i.e. to reduce his fever, a simple bottle of water did in just 2 to 3 hours. Now that’s why we call water as nature’s gift, isn’t it? After one day of ORS, he showed a big improvement with his fever going out completely and his activity returning to normal. We both thanked the almighty for everything. I know, it might seem a little stupid for us to be so hyper on such small things, but the emotion of a love for our kid sometimes magnifies the effect of even common ailments which are otherwise harmless or sometimes even necessary for developing that immune system that will help him in the long run.

So, friends always remember the formula of 100 mL/kg of body weight and make sure your kid drinks plenty of water and don’t worry if he wets your bed. After all, that’s what kids are for. If he is not going to do it, then who is? Definitely not you!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How I brought a walker for my kid?

As parents, one of our best moments is when our child crosses any milestone in his/her development, which includes his first smile, first rollover, first time standing on his knees, first time standing up with support, and what not. The joy that he gets when he reaches his goal after falling innumerable times and again getting up without getting disheartened makes us feel like we are on heaven. Sometimes I wonder where that quality of bouncing back after falling down goes away when we grow up. As children, we are never bothered about defeats or setbacks, may be because we cannot think much and we concentrate only on trying harder and living the moment with the best of what we can do. But as we grow up and as we can think, the first thing we do is to think about different ways, different permutations and combinations of how a particular thing cannot be done rather than finding ways of doing it. In this matter, I strongly believe we should learn from children who simply start doing and don't think whether they can or not.

Ok...now getting to the point, we wanted to buy a new walker for our little one as he has started to climb over things and has started to stand on his own. Now as with all things in life, we want to give him the best and nothing less than that. So, we decided to do some good research on this topic on the net and with friends. We did find some good sources in the net about various criteria for buying a good walker. An excellent article on Hubpages was also there.

Finally, we went ahead and brought a walker for him. It cost us around 600 bucks, pretty cheap if you look at the joy that he got when he found out that he can explore the house using his new vehicle. Now he can fulfill all his fantasies of getting up to that table which he also wanted to see what is on top of it, taking out the things on top of the computer table and throwing them down, kicking the ball and then chasing it, and even chase us wherever we move around. Some joys are really parasitic, they get transmitted easily...this was one of them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Diaper rash in babies - are diapers really required?

Diaper – is it really required?

As new parents, during our initial days we really blessed the companies that produced diapers because it saved us a lot of work and headache in managing our baby’s needs. He used to wet himself every half an hour, especially during his sleep and this led to his sleep being disturbed and he becoming cranky and starting to cry. We looked for the best brands of diapers available in India, searched all kinds of medical and genera stores, and consulted many of our so-called experienced friends who recommended an array of choices for us. We finally zeroed in on our first diaper – Wipro – a new one in the market that we saw in a supermarket store. We brought it home and introduced it on our baby. He felt a little discomfort in the beginning but he gradually adjusted to it. But we didn’t know that we were doing a mistake – a small one though!

Diapers are not essential for the baby. Diapers should not be used very frequently, especially in case of boys, because it seems to compress the scrotal area and increase its temperature. The scrotum is a very important organ of the reproductive system and it is kept intentionally “outside” the body so that it can stay a little cooler compared to the rest of the body. It should not be as warm as the rest of our body. Any increase in the temperature of the scrotum can adversely affect the production of sperms in the child which can lead to future complications like impotency when the child turns adult.

We got to learn about this late when during a consultation with our pediatrician, he scolded us left and right. One day, suddenly our baby started crying very painfully – yes, I can feel his pain in me, I could understand that he is suffering from some sort of pain that he has not experienced before. His tears were telling me what he was going through. To investigate the source of his agony, we removed his clothes to check if he was bitten by some insect or something. When we finally removed his diaper, we finally saw what was making my child, who seldom even moans and who didn’t even cry when he was being vaccinated, go into fits of agony. There was a huge rash in his scrotal area and his scrotum was hugely swollen. We immediately tried to remove the diaper but it was stuck to the scrotum because of the high level of moisture inside it. It might have so happened that he wetted the diaper more frequently than usual and the diaper was not able to absorb it all thus leading to his ultrasoft skin becoming loose and developing a big rash with high level of swelling. I was scared to my pants after looking at that scene and I cannot fully explain it in words over here. And add to it that my child was screaming in agony and I knew that it is time to throw that packet of diapers out of the window. I took off the diapers and put lot of baby talcum powder onto that area so that the moisture is absorbed and the area becomes dry. I kept the baby without diaper or any underwear or lower body cloth for around 1 hour so that the area is exposed to air and gets cooled off. After around 1 hour, the scrotal skin became dry and some dry flakes, which were actually dead skin, started to appear on the surface. One should never attempt to clean those flakes themselves as they will be removed by themselves as they dry off. Removing them by hand will cause huge amount of pain to the baby and s/he will start screaming like hell. It is then that we took him to the pediatrician the next day and we got the good scolding that we so deserved.

So friends, just to sum up, I am not against diapers or anything. Sometimes, diapers are a necessity like when you are going out or you are not in a position to change his clothes when they are wet. But diapers should not be used as a regular feature in your baby’s wardrobe. The best thing to do is to plan your day so that the diaper is not used for more than 3 to 4 hours. And if you notice any sort of rash or redness on the perineal (the crotch or anal area), you should, as a first aid, put baby talcum powder on that area so as to dry it first; keep the area to open air so that the moisture is removed and the skin normalizes (remember that the skin is also an organ and it requires oxygen and breathing for normal functioning). And last but not the least, consult you pediatrician immediately the next day and be ready for a good scolding!!