As a mother, I feel anxious whenever my child falls ill or sustains an injury. I am usually the ‘doctor-mummy’ who provides the first line of treatment and care before deciding whether or not to take my child to the doctor’s. I am sure that most mummies inadvertently play this role of ‘doctor-mummy’ at home too. I recall vividly my mother nursing me back to health in my younger days! For first-time mums, it is likely you may not have a clue what to do. So, here’s an article to help you play the role of ‘doctor-mummy’ in case you do not have immediate access to a doctor’s clinic or hospital.
I wish to first highlight, that as a disclaimer: I have neither received first-aid nor medical training. These simple home remedies are based on information that I have gathered from personal experience, and information from the hospital that my child visited, and of course, from my online research. So, please do bring your child to seek professional medical advice as soon as you can.
Sudden bouts of illness are scary. This is especially so if they occur in the middle of the night, on weekends or public holidays when most clinics are closed. For medical emergencies, please bring your child to the 24-hour Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department of a hospital to seek immediate medical attention. If you encounter life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrest, active seizures, breathlessness, major traumas, or stroke, please call for SCDF emergency medical services at 995.
So, what can you do when your child vomits, or gets a nosebleed, or a mosquito bite, or sustains a cut?
When a child experiences nausea or vomiting, has watery diarrhea (usually non-bloody), abdominal cramps, and pain, accompanied by a low-grade fever, it could signal a bout of viral gastroenteritis (often called stomach flu).
Be careful, because viral gastroenteritis is highly contagious and spreads through close contact with infected people (eg. by sharing of towels, food, drink, or eating utensils), and by touching contaminated surfaces and objects.
Viral gastroenteritis can be caused by different viruses, including noroviruses and rotaviruses. A person is usually contagious when he begins to feel ill. Although a person usually feels better within one to three days, he can remain contagious up to two weeks or more after recovery.
Viral gastroenteritis can be deadly for infants, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems. The greatest risk is when a person gets dehydrated and hence, it is important to replace the person’s lost fluids and salts.
What should you do if your child gets vomiting or diarrhea? Bring your child to see a doctor. Meanwhile, let your child’s stomach settle by stopping solid food for a few hours. Give your child small sips of water or small amounts of oral rehydration solution (such as Hydralyte Electrolyte) throughout the day. Oral rehydration solution can be purchased at pharmacies such as Guardian Pharmacy. I usually store some oral rehydration solution in my fridge for emergencies such as this. Don’t overstock this item at home because it has an expiry date.
How much oral rehydration solution should you give your child?
Children less than 3 years old:
- First 4 hours: Give 15ml every 15 minutes
- Next 1 hour: Give 30ml every 30 minutes
- Next 3 hours: Give 60ml every hour
Children less than 3 years old:
- First 4 hours: Give 30ml every 15 minutes
- Next 1 hour: Give 60ml every 30 minutes
- Next 3 hours: Give 120ml every hour
If your child refuses to drink the oral rehydration solution, offer small frequent amounts of barley water, rice water, clear soup, diluted milk, or diluted juice. If your child vomits during this process, stop feeding the child for 30 minutes to let the stomach rest, and start over by offering a smaller amount.
Here are some cleanup tips for surfaces that have contacted a child’s vomit or diarrhea. Remember to don a pair of disposable gloves and mask to protect yourself from the virus and use disposable paper towels, soapy water, and a bleach-based household cleaner to clean up the soiled area. Dispose soiled items including the gloves into a plastic trash bag and wash your hands with soap and water.
My children used to fall sick ever so often, especially prior to the coronavirus outbreak this year when they were regularly exposed to sick, unmasked people around them. From shopping centres to schools and childcare centres, bacteria and viruses invisible to the naked eye are lurking everywhere. That is why practising good hand hygiene is extremely important to keep bacteria and viruses at bay. After experiencing a few vomit episodes over the years, I’ve begun storing plastic bags in the car, and in each room at home for quick retrieval during times of emergency. Thankfully, I have not had an opportunity to use them yet, and I hope that I never will.
Nosebleeds can commonly occur when a child has allergies, picks his nose, injures his nose, has an object stuck in his nose, blows his nose too hard, or when the air is dry. If you suspect that your child’s nosebleed is due to dry air, you can run a cool mist humidifier in your child’s room at night. Remind your child not to pick his nose or blow it too hard. In many cases, however, there is no specific cause found for nosebleeds.
A nosebleed can be caused by a broken blood vessel, causing the tissues in the nose to bleed. It can appear quite scary, but it is usually not a serious problem. Many children outgrow nosebleeds when they become teenagers.
While I was in the kitchen cutting some fruits one evening, my 2-year old son screamed, “Mummy, blood!” as blood dripped out from his nose. My hubby, being seasoned at handling nosebleeds, grabbed some tissue paper to wipe the blood off his nose and comforted him. He sat our son down, leaned him forward slightly, gently pinched his nostrils close for about 5 to 10 minutes, and instructed him to breathe through his mouth. This process would have to be repeated if the bleeding does not stop.
Bring your child to see the doctor if your child sustained a head or face injury, has an object stuck in his nose, if his nose doesn’t stop bleeding, or if he feels weak, faint, or has trouble breathing.
3. Mosquito bites, cuts, and grazes
Pesky mosquitoes often find their way into our home. Besides the fear of contracting mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, mosquitoes also affect the quality of sleep when they hover around my ears, disturbing me from my slumber (or should I say, beauty sleep).
As a preventive measure, we had magnetic mosquito nets installed on our windows, and as an added precaution, used Chicco Anti-Mosquito ultrasonic plug-in devices in every room. Although I have noticed a significant reduction in the number of mosquitoes at home, these measures are not foolproof, because mosquitoes can still enter when we open our main door to enter or exit our home.
Once bitten, to stop the itch and cool the skin, I usually apply some Mopiko ointment on our mosquito bites. When my 2-year old gets bitten, he scratches his mosquito bites uncontrollably, causing them to bleed. I, as a mummy ‘doctor’, will normally have to intervene to allow his mosquito bites and wounds to heal. I use a clean piece of cotton wool soaked in antiseptic wound solution to wipe his wound clean and let it air dry. Using a clean finger, I dap some Sudocream (an antiseptic healing cream available at local pharmacies) onto his wound and cover it with a plaster. The cream helps his wound to heal, while the plaster doubles up to protect the wound from dirt and germs, as well as prevent him from scratching it again.
I use the same method above to treat my sons’ cuts and grazes too. I usually remove the plaster before their bath to wash their wound clean and place a new one after.
Here’s my last quick tip for you: manuka honey lozenges (for kids) help to soothe a sore throat for kids aged 2-years old and above. Before giving them one of these, please be sure that your child can suck on a round piece of hard sweet without choking. Containing the ingredients 10+ UMF Manuka Honey and Propolis, these lozenges also serve to support the immune system. My sons get to pop one of these in their mouths when they have a sore throat or mouth ulcer, and they simply love it. Besides, who doesn’t like candy?
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