Shaken Baby Syndrome

A large number of child deaths are reported in South Africa each year. A lot of deaths relate to neglect, abuse or murder. Despite this, there's a knowledge gap in relation to understanding the issue....

Amniotic fluid problems

The importance of amniotic fluid Amniotic fluid is essential for pregnancy and foetal development. Amniotic fluid is a watery substances residing inside a casing called the amniotic membrane or sac. ...

Choosing a pre-school

Becoming a parent is a momentous; life-changing event filled with hopes, expectations and naturally some fears. Parents often learn and grow alongside their children, as they face the challenges of pa...

Newborn reflexes

Although newborn babies are physically helpless and vulnerable at birth, they have a number of amazing innate abilities or reflexes. Reflexes are involuntary movements or actions, designed to protect ...

Mastitis

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast that can lead to infection. The word “mastitis” is derived from the Greek word “mastos” meaning “breasts”, while the suffix “-itis” denotes “inflammation”. Ma...

Pelvic floor exercises

Although your new baby will probably bring you immense emotional satisfaction, physically you may feel uncomfortable and strange in your own skin. After 9 months of pregnancy and hormonal changes, you...

Colic

Babies cry because they need to communicate something and most parents, especially new moms, find it distressing to see or hear an unhappy baby. In time, you will learn to recognize the various causes...

Antenatal Classes

Antenatal classes are informative sessions provided to prepare expecting parents for the birth of their child and the early days of being a parent.Most antenatal classes are run by Midwives and occasi...

Strap-in-the-Future

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched on the 11 May 2011. It is a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities. According to Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, MP Minister of ...

  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Infections - What is an Infection?

INFECTIONS – WHAT IS AN INFECTION?

 

Your child’s body is constantly under attack by tiny micro-organisms, commonly called germs. Some of these invasive germs are able to live harmoniously within the body, while others invade the tissues and cause damage which results in an infection. During an infection, the infecting organism uses the host’s resources to multiply, usually at the expense of the host, and interferes with the normal functioning of the host, resulting in a wide variety of possible infections, depending on their typology. Sometimes the infection is localised and only affects one part of the body, like the eyes or lungs, or it may affect the entire body. Your child’s body will then mobilise its defences against the infection, with the help of white blood cells and antibodies (Leary, 1990;  Pediatric Oncall, 200-2009; Wikipedia, 2010).

 

There are 4 types of germs that can cause infection:

1.         Bacteria. Bacteria are single-celled organisms that cause infections like pneumonia, sore throats, ear infections and boils.

2.         Viruses. Viruses are usually dependent on a living cell for their survival. Common viral infections include flu, polio, mumps, chicken pox, measles etc.

3.         Fungi. Fungi grow in moist environments and produce infections of the nails and itchy rashes in the armpits, thighs and other skin folds.

4.         Protozoa. Protozoa are single-celled organisms which include the Plasmodium parasite which causes malaria, and Giardia lamblia, which has been discussed above (Pediatric Oncall, 2000-2009).

 

An example of the way in which the body reacts to an infection is the common skin boil. Bacteria enter the skin and blood flows to the affected area, producing the 4 classic signs of infection: redness, swelling, heat and tenderness. The white blood cells engulf the bacteria, a battle ensues and the remnants of the fight, in the case of a boil, are pus. The local tissue walls surrounding this battle respond by forming an abscess, also known as ‘pus under pressure’. Other signs that the body is fighting an infection may include a fever and a change in the white blood cell count. Your doctor may perform a white cell count test to help him ascertain what kind of infection your child has (Leary, 1990).

 

Products of the infection travel through the body’s disposal or lymph drainage system, finally settling in the lymph nodes, which are most noticeable in the neck, under the arms and in the groin. When an infection is present, these glands may enlarge and produce conspicuous lumps. The site of these swellings provides a clue as to where the infection is (Leary, 1990).

 

It may be difficult to determine whether your child’s infection is viral or bacterial in origin. Both types of infection can cause symptoms such as general malaise, fever and chills. It is important for your doctor to make this distinction, because viral infections cannot be cured with antibiotics. Generally the body’s own defence mechanisms will heal a viral infection and your child’s doctor may prescribe medication for symptomatic relief, e.g. for pain, fever and diarrhoea (Leary, 1990; Wikipedia, 2010).

 

Viral infections are usually systemic, i.e. they involve many parts of the body or more than one body system simultaneously (runny nose, sinus congestion, cough, body aches etc). At times they may be local, as in the case of herpes or viral conjunctivitis. Only a few viral infections are painful and the pain is often described as itchy or burning. In contrast, bacterial infections produce more pronounced classic symptoms such as redness, heat, swelling and pain. The pain is localised to one area of the body. For example, if your child cuts his finger and develops a bacterial infection, the pain will occur at the site of the infection. It is also common for bacterial throat and ear infections to produce more pain on one side of the throat or only in one ear. Bacterial infections are treated with the most suitable antibiotic, based on your child’s particular infection. Unfortunately, bacteria have the ability to mutate and may become resistant to certain antibiotics. As a result, if your child is not getting well, your doctor may decide to change the antibiotic (Leary, 1990; Wikipedia, 2010).

 

In the case of a difficult diagnosis or persistent infection, your doctor may order some laboratory tests, such as blood, urine and sputum samples. Chest X-rays and stool analysis may provide further clues if necessary. Sometimes fluid may be taken from the spinal cord to ensure that there is no brain infection (Wikipedia, 2010).