Health

Advice the doctor didn't give you!

Most GPs have an uber-busy work schedule, especially as they struggle to cope with the fall-out of a national pandemic. Check out our ‘inside info’ on some common conditions that the doctor might not get around to sharing with you!

Published

ASTHMA

This is an increasingly common condition in children. Attacks occur when a trigger (which could be anything from pollen to cat hair) causes the airways to tighten. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and a tight chest. It’s potentially dangerous and should always be taken seriously.

The treatment You should be given a detailed asthma plan by your GP or asthma nurse, which will usually include everything you need to help your child manage the condition. This is likely to include two inhalers – a ‘reliever’ to use when an attack happens and a ‘preventer’ to use regularly.

But what your doctor might not say

Your childcare provider should have an asthma plan for your asthmatic child, and be able to recognise an emergency situation should it occur and know exactly what to do. Visit www.asthma.org.uk

HAY FEVER

Children can be affected just as badly as adults by this common condition, caused by an allergy to different kinds of pollen – and it can stretch into the autumn, too. It causes sneezing, red, itchy eyes, blocked sinuses and general misery!

The treatment Anti-histamine drugs, which can be taken either in tablet form or via a nasal spray. Make sure you get these prescribed by your GP, as some aren’t suitable for younger children.

But what your doctor might not say!

You can take action at home to beat the pollen that causes your child’s symptoms. Try washing your child’s face and head after outdoor play, as pollen grains tend to stick to the skin and hair. A smear of nasal balm just inside the nostrils will help prevent pollens settling on the sensitive lining of the nose and causing irritation. Don’t dry clothes outside when the pollen count is high and keep windows shut in the early morning and evening, when the pollens are released and falling. Visit www.allergyuk.org

BEDWETTING

The medical name for this is ‘nocturnal enuresis’, and it can be very distressing for both parents and children. A child might wet the bed for a variety of reasons, including an overactive bladder, constipation, anxiety or a small bladder.

The treatment Drugs are available which reduce the amount of urine that a child’s kidneys produce during the night. There are also bedwetting alarms which wake children up when they need to use the loo.

But what your doctor might not say!

It’s actually a good idea to encourage your child to drink regularly – six to eight cups of water-based fluid throughout the day. Not only does this stop your child becoming dehydrated, it also helps to train the bladder to cope with larger amounts of liquid. Visit www.eric.org.uk

DIABETES

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes – where the body fails to produce enough of the hormone insulin – are tiredness, excessive thirst, weeing a lot and losing weight. It’s a very serious condition, so if your child is showing any of these symptoms get him checked out straight away.

The treatment There’s no cure for diabetes but it can be managed. A child with the condition will need to inject insulin and check blood glucose levels daily. You’re likely to be referred to a specialist diabetes unit in your local hospital or health centre.

But what your doctor might not say!

You need to share the load. Caring for children with type 1 diabetes can be exhausting. By giving yourself a break, you’ll be in a fitter state, both emotionally and physically, to look after them. Download a copy of the essential guide for looking after young people with diabetes at www.diabetes.org.uk/Type-1-essentials.

DUST ALLERGY

This is triggered by the tiny dust mites that breed in our carpets, curtains, bedclothes – pretty much everywhere in our houses, in fact. Typical symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, blocked nose and itchy eyes.

The treatment Antihistamines can help with the symptoms. For young children, these should always be prescribed by a doctor.

But what your doctor might not say!

One of the biggest sources of dust mites can be those beloved soft toys piled up on your child’s bed. Even though bedding gets changed regularly, most of us don’t clean soft toys as a matter of course. Try:

* Putting toys in a plastic bag and freezing them overnight, then washing and tumble drying.

* Tumble drying the toys for an hour on the hot setting, then washing and drying.

* Soaking toys in a mixture of detergent such as liquid hand wash and eucalyptus oil, then rinsing and drying.

Check your sources

The internet can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to information and advice. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who runs this site? Many companies have created sites which look independent but on closer examination are just online brochures for their products. That’s not to say the product might not be effective – but take claims with a pinch of salt. Other sites might be run by groups with a particular agenda.
  2. Can this health claim be backed up independently? Anyone can cut and paste something from a website and put it on another one. Instead, check out sites which use properly qualified experts to check claims. NHS Behind the Headlines (http://www.nhs.uk/news/Pages/NewsIndex.aspx) gives clear, unbiased analysis of health claims which make the headlines.
  3. Is this treatment too good to be true? If a description contains the word ‘miracle’ or ‘instant’, be suspicious. When you’re desperate to find a solution, it’s easy to get sucked into claims like this.
  4. What sources can I trust? Stick to sites run by reputable organisations. The NHS site should always be your first stop for basic information about a health condition, followed by the relevant support group.

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