Common Childhood Conditions
We care for a wide range of childhood conditions, from minor ailments to more serious diseases requiring hospitalisation. Common examples are: Asthma, Atopic Dermatitis, Acute Bronchiolitis, Allergies, Eczema, Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease, Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu) and more.
Asthma is a very common childhood illness and it affects about 20% of the children in Singapore. As parents, it is worrying to hear when your child has been diagnosed with asthma. However, your child is still able to remain healthy and be physically active with this condition.
Asthma is a condition whereby there is chronic inflammation of the airways. Inflamed airways are more sensitive than normal airways and when exposed to a trigger, chemicals are released resulting in narrowed airways.
Common symptoms of asthma include:
- Chest tightness: May be felt in older children especially after intense physical activity
- Shortness of breath: May be severe enough to interfere with normal daily activities, sleep or exercise
- Cough: Varies from child to child. Some children may have a dry cough while others may have a wet cough that comes with whitish or yellowish phlegm
- Wheezing: A whistling sound that occurs when the child breathes out. This symptom might not be present in all children.
Every child is different and thus, the presentation of asthma varies from one child to another. Do consult your paediatrician on how to better manage the specific symptoms for your child.
Common triggers of asthma include:
- Allergies: Common allergens are dust, animals (i.e. fur, saliva), pollen and mould. Food allergy is not common but peanuts, egg or dairy products and bird’s nest may trigger asthma symptoms.
- Irritants: Air pollution can trigger asthma and asthmatic children have more symptoms during hazy periods. It is best to avoid outdoor activity during these periods. Cigarette smoke is also highly detrimental for children with sensitive airways.
- Sudden weather changes: Cold and dry air is a trigger to sensitive airways.
- Viral infections: Viral respiratory infections (e.g. a cold) in young children can result in asthma. The child can start off with a mild cold which then develops into a cough and asthma symptoms can persist for the next one to two weeks.
Atopic dermatitis is a recurrent itchy skin condition and affects at least 20% of school-going children in Singapore. Many patients with atopic dermatitis have dry skin which is easily irritated, causing the skin to flare up. Atopic dermatitis appears as red and scaly rashes. Most children with this condition improve as they grow older. However, there is no cure and the condition can recur from time to time.
Common parts of body that can be affected by atopic dermatitis:
- Behind the knees
How to manage atopic dermatitis?
- Avoid stuffed toys, pets, carpets, thick curtains in the home to reduce the level of house dust mites
- Avoid harsh soaps and soaps which are scented
- Avoid hot baths
- Moisturise regularly with fragrance-free moisturisers
- Topical steroids: Apply thinly on the red and itchy areas. Frequency of application is two to three times daily, depending on the doctor’s instructions. Prolonged usage of topical steroids can lead to side effects, such as, thinning of the skin and increased hair growth.
- Non-steroid creams: Applied in the same way as topical steroids. Some patients may experience a burning or stinging sensation. Inform your doctor if these symptoms occur.
- Anti-histamines: Medication to relieve itch.
- Oral antibiotics: May be prescribed if there are signs of skin infection worsening the atopic dermatitis.
Colic is a condition whereby a healthy infant (less than 4 months old) with no known medical conditions cries incessantly for an extended period of time.
Symptoms of Colic:
- Crying that lasts for several hours
- Crying occurs at the same time every day, usually in the late afternoon or early evening
- Crying seems to be without reason (e.g. infant is not hungry, clean diaper, etc.)
- Infant may more his arms and legs more, i.e. clenching his fists, drawing up his legs and may also expel gas
- Infant is well at other times
Causes of Colic
There is no evidence to determine the root cause of colic.
Some speculated causes include:
- Allergy – If the infant is formula-fed, he/she may be allergic to certain proteins in the formula.
- Lactose malabsorption – The infant’s inability to digest certain sugars may lead to poor absorption of these sugars from milk.
- Overstimulation – With many new sensations (i.e. light, sound) surrounding infants, some become overwhelmed, especially at the end of the day. In response to the overstimulation, they cry and are not easily soothed.
Should I bring my infant to see the doctor for colic?
Yes, it is a good idea to talk with a doctor about your infant’s crying. Your doctor can also rule out other potential causes, such as, intestinal problems or urinary infections and to check that your infant is feeding and growing normally.
If your infant has colic, your doctor would be able to advise you on your next course of action as well.
Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD)
HFMD is an infectious disease caused by a family of viruses called Enteroviruses. It can occur in people of various age groups, the most common being young children.
What are the symptoms of HFMD?
- Blister-like or pimple-like rashes on their hands, feet and buttocks
- Mouth ulcers
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
How does HFMD spread?
HFMD can be spread through direct contact with nose discharge, saliva, faeces and fluid from the blisters.