Chickenpox: How to Relieve the Itch

ChickenpoxThe chickenpox is a contagious disease that caused by the virus known as the varicella-zoster virus. It causes the skin to break out in a blister-like rash that results in itching, along with other flue-like symptoms such as fever and fatigue.

Chickenpox is most common in younger children, though individuals of all ages can also get the chickenpox. The virus can be highly contagious, especially for individuals who have not yet had the chickenpox or have not yet received the chickenpox vaccination. In order to protect your child against the chickenpox, Vancouver family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, recommends that children get the varicella vaccine between 12 and 15 months. Once children reach the ages of 4 to 6, a booster shot is also given to protect them further. While it’s uncommon for anyone who has had the vaccination to get the chickenpox, it is still possible, though the symptoms are usually much milder and you tend to recover faster than if you hadn’t received the vaccine.

As mentioned, one of the most common symptoms of the chickenpox is itching. The itching occurs when the blisters release chemicals that activate the nerves in the top layers of your skin, sending a signal to the brain. Similarly, the same chemical release occurs when a mosquito bites you. While it can be difficult to fight the urge to itch chickenpox, it is best to try to avoid itching them as much as possible – this is because the bacteria from underneath your fingernails can lead to infection. Itching chickenpox can also cause permanent scarring.

That being said, there are a number of home remedies other and steps that Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests trying to alleviate the symptoms of chickenpox, as outlined below.

Home Remedies for ChickenpoxTaking Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help to reduce the fever that is associated with the chickenpox. It can also help to reduce pain caused by the blisters. It is important to avoid giving young children anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, as these medications can lead to a complication known as Reye’s syndrome.

It’s also very important to wear loose-fitting clothing rather than stretchy, elastic-like clothing while you have the chickenpox, as the looser the clothing is, the better your skin is able to breathe. Taking cool oatmeal baths, dabbing calamine lotion onto the itching areas of the skin, as well as taking antihistamines can also help to relieve the itch.

Unfortunately there is no quick cure for the chickenpox once you have them, and they just have to take their course. When you have the chickenpox, you’ll find that the blisters usually don’t appear all at once, and instead form over several days. They will usually stop appearing, however, by day 7, though it can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days for the virus to be out of your system completely.

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What is ADHD?

ADHD, also more commonly known as Attention Deficit Disorder, is one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders affecting children in Canada today. It is characterized by a wide variety of behavioural problems that typically co-occur, including impulsiveness, inattention, and in some cases, even hyperactivity. It can also occur in conjecture with other health problems such as dyslexia, insomnia, and issues with anger management.

ADHDThere are three main behavioural changes that parents of young children should watch for. Those are restlessness, distractibility, and as mentioned previously, impulsivity. Children with ADHD are often easily distracted by things they hear, see or think, fidget and cannot sit still for long periods of time, and also tend to make decisions before thinking them through. Secondary symptoms of ADHD include feelings of anxiousness, being disorganized, or procrastination. These symptoms typically more prominent between the ages of 3 and 5, but can also affect older children, too – and while these symptoms are certainly a precursor for ADHD, they can also be signs of other mental health issues.

It is important to address signs of ADHD as early as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficulty your child will have – not only with school, but socially as well. In order to determine whether or not your child has ADHD, healthcare professionals in Vancouver, like Dr. Ali Ghahary, will take an in-depth look into the child’s medical history – including whether or not there is any family history of ADHD, the child’s development/skills, as well as the presence of any other comorbidities, such as anxiety, which is also common with ADHD. Teachers may also be asked to relay information back to healthcare professionals about how a child behaves in the classroom, as this can be helpful in determining a proper course of treatment for the child.

There is no cure for ADHD. There are, however, many ways in which symptoms of ADHD can be controlled. Though it can be a difficult decision for parents of children to make, Dr. Ali Ghahary notes that medication has been shown to be beneficial in treating children with ADHD. Central Nervous System stimulants, for example, help to improve the child’s ability to focus, while other non-stimulant medications can help to improve memory and attention. As with most medication, ADHD medications also come with side effects; the most common being having difficulty sleeping, headaches, dry mouth, nausea, irritability, nervousness, and weight loss. Generally, these side effects will go away after a few weeks. There are, however, other, more serious side effects that can also occur as a result of taking such medications, including allergic reactions, high blood pressure, having thoughts of suicide, or hallucinations. If you notice your child exhibiting any of these symptoms, Dr. Ali Ghahary urges patients to speak with their physician as soon as possible. Your child may require a change in dose, or may need to be prescribed a different medication all together.

Cerebral Palsy

From a medical standpoint, a child’s early years are some of the most important years of their lives – especially when it comes to the development of their brains. One medical condition – Cerebral Palsy – can occur before, during, or right after birth, and is usually caused by a brain injury or malformation due to the brain still being underdeveloped. As a result, this type of damage to the brain can impact a child’s motor skills, in addition to their muscle control and coordination, reflexes, as well as their balance and posture.

There are different reasons why brain damage that results in Cerebral Palsy may occur. This includes prenatal disturbance of the migration of the brain cells, inadequate protective covering/insulation (known as myelin) that aid in the transmission of the brain cells, ruptured brain cells during the birthing process, or infections or trauma that are damaging to the brain. How Cerebral Palsy affects a child is dependent on the severity of the injury, the type of injury, and when the injury takes place.

Severe physical impairment that results in the use of a wheelchair is not at all uncommon in those with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy can affect the movement and function of different limbs (such as the arms or legs.) Due to the muscles that are around the mouth, a child with Cerebral Palsy can also lose their ability to speak. It’s also not uncommon for the muscles to shake, twitch or become stiff. Other complications can also occur as a result of Cerebral Palsy, such as visual impairments and seizures.

In order to determine why your child has Cerebral Palsy, family physicians like Dr. Ali Ghahary, as well as neurologists and radiologists will put together an array of tests, such as medical imaging scans (CTs and MRIs), lab tests, as well as any other findings. Medical imaging and other tests can help to determine just how much brain damage has occurred as well as the type of brain damage that is involved. Once this is figured out, these physicians will then turn their focus to the impairments and coming up with a plan of action in terms of treatment/therapy.

Both children and adults with Cerebral Palsy will often require long-term care. For example, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy to help with mobility, fine motor skills, and communication. Medication will also be prescribed to treat some of the health conditions that come along with Cerebral Palsy. For example, seizures will be treated with anti-convulsant medications. Botox is also a method of treatment that can be used to reduce muscle spasticity, though this is temporary and usually needs to be repeated. Orthopedic surgery can also be preformed to lengthen tendons, which enables easier movement.

For more information on Cerebral Palsy and to find out what kind of programs or services might be available to you, visit the Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia at www.bccerebralpalsy.com or e-mail info@bccerebralpalsy.com.

Childhood Cancer

Childhood CancerChildhood cancer accounts for less than 1% of new cancer diagnoses in Canada. In comparison to adult cancer, it is relatively uncommon; however, it is still the leading cause of death in children between the ages of 6 months and 14 years (though its incidence is at its highest during the first 5 years od a child’s life) and 1 in every 5 children will succumb to the disease. An estimated 1 out of every 250 adults between the ages of 20 and 39 are survivors of childhood cancer. More cancer statistics can be found on Dr. Ali Ghahary’s Blogspot page by clicking here.

Leukemia, lymphomas and cancers of the brain and/or the CNS (Central Nervous System) account for the majority of malignant childhood cancers.

Unlike certain types of cancers that are found in adults, the cause of childhood cancer is relatively unknown. A definitive link to any specific factors – such as environmental or lifestyle factors – has not been fully established. In adults, some of these factors that can contribute to cancer include whether or not the patient is a smoker, overexposure to radiation/carcinogens, hormones, obesity, chronic inflammation, and other viruses. Adults will also usually be at an increased risk of developing cancer if there is a family history of it.

While some children may be too young to discern the diagnosis that they are facing, others will, and it can oftentimes be an overwhelming and undoubtedly scary process. When talking to a child about how to cope with cancer, Dr. Ali Ghahary says it is important to be as open and honest as possible, while ensuring you’re using terms that the child is able to understand. For example, rather than using words like “oncologist,” “radiation,” or “chemotherapy,” use words that the child is already familiar with, such as “doctor” and “medicine.” Children will often wonder what they did to deserve being diagnosed with cancer and may feel a sense of blame, so it is also important to reassure them that such a diagnosis is not their fault. As cancer can disrupt a child’s routine, explain to them that they may not be able to do the things they are used to doing – such as going to school or seeing their friends – but try to implement different ways for them to do that, such as communicating with friends via telephone calls, and incorporating at-home activities into their routine, such as colouring. Having a sense of normalcy may better help the child feel more at ease despite the difficult diagnosis.

BC Children's Hospital - Support for ChildrenWhen a child is diagnosed with cancer, they will usually be referred for treatment at a children’s facility – such as BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. These types of hospitals are specifically specialized in diagnosing and treating children with cancer and other childhood-related illnesses and diseases, and they provide comprehensive care in addition to support for children and their families. Together, the Michael Cuccione Childhood Cancer Research Program and BC Children’s Hospital work fervently in performing cutting-edge research to inaugurate enhanced methods of treatment for childhood cancer. In addition, the hospital holds various fundraisers, including the annual Miracle Weekend, which raised $20,300,680 this past May, making the total amount raised since 1987 a historic $300 million.