Tag Archives: childhood illness

Children Can Develop Arthritis Too

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions or pediatric rheumatic diseases that can develop in children under the age of 16.” While people often don’t think children are susceptible to arthritis, the actuality is that over 300,000 American children develop an arthritic condition annually.

An All-Encompassing Affliction

Juvenile arthritis (JA) can present in many ways, sometimes affecting the entire body including eyes, skin, joints, muscles, and stomach.

Common Types of Juvenile Arthritis

Some of the most common types of JA fall under the category (JIA) juvenile idiopathic arthritis which encompasses psoriatic arthritis, oligoarthritis, polyarthritis, undifferentiated systemic and enthesitis-related arthritis. Other common forms are juvenile lupus, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) and juvenile dermatomyositis. Another, rarer form of JA is Kawasaki disease which affects the arteries and blood vessels. Unlike some of the idiopathic varieties, children with Kawasaki disease can recover with appropriate treatment and not have future issues or complications. There are others as well, but these are the most prevalent forms.

Signs and Symptoms to Watch Out For

Believing their child to just be going through ‘growing pains’, many parents may miss the signs of JA. Juvenile arthritis may not present exactly like adult-onset arthritis. Some children don’t have straightforward joint pain and inflammation, and each of the different JA conditions may cause different symptoms. But some of the common signs and indicators that your child may be silently suffering from arthritis could include:

  • Unexplained and recurring fevers
  • Limping or favoring or certain limbs
  • If the child is very young they may whine and cry when moving or walking
  • Redness and swelling of one or more joints
  • Recurring eye problems such as conjunctivitis
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Limited range of motion in legs or shoulders
  • Rashes
  • Weight loss
  • Pain that goes beyond simple ‘growing pains’, perhaps in different areas such as the back, ribcage, or multiple smaller joints

Many of these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions when standing alone, but if you notice many of these occurring together it is worth checking into JA. Also, there are many other symptoms that may be arthritis type specific, so read more about each different condition under the JA umbrella here.

Treatment and Prognosis

While there is no cure for JA, early detection can allow for the correct treatments which can alleviate many of the symptoms and help with quality of life and prognosis. Many arthritis medications are too strong or would be dangerous for children, but there are treatments available to help control the child’s inflammation and pain such as certain NSAIDs. Sometimes certain disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) may be used to help slow the progression of arthritis. Sometimes corticosteroids are used, but these have pretty severe side effects and are most often the last option used especially for children. Medications are often used in conjunction with lifestyle changes, routine check-ups and management plans that may include certain exercises.

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Infectious Childhood Diseases To Watch Out For

  1. Impetigo – Impetigo is a very contagious skin infection that is most often contracted by children, often spreading through groups of children at day-cares and schools. It usually starts as facial sores around the mouth that become crusty upon eruption. It can spread to other parts of the body, and in rare cases develops into a more serious form called ecthyma which burrows into deeper layers of the skin and causes ulcers. Impetigo is treated with antibiotics and children are usually expected to stay home from school so as not to further the spread of the infection.
  2. Kawasaki Disease – is a rare but serious condition that predominantly effects children under 5 years of age. It presents as high and lengthy fever, swelling of the extremities, chapped, red lips and a rash. The symptoms can resemble those of allergies, however if the condition goes undetected it could eventually lead to heart damage or even death, so if your child is experiencing symptoms such as these, be sure to get him or her checked right away and ask your doctor about testing for Kawasaki.
  3. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) – is the leading cause of acute lung afflictions like bronchitis and pneumonia among babies. The symptoms are similar to those of the flu including congestion, a fever, a cough or wheezing. 2% of small children will develop such serious symptoms they will require hospitalization.
  1. Scarlet Fever – is caused by the same group of bacteria that is responsible for Strep throat. The two infections don’t always go together but can occur simultaneously. Scarlet fever can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms in children including the signature “scarlet colored” rash on various parts of the body, a coated tongue, fever, swollen glands, the chills, aches, vomiting or nausea. While scarlet fever used to be a dreaded and life-threatening disease before the availability of antibiotics, today treatment is as simple as a course of medication.
  2. Whooping Cough – Also known as pertussis, this contagious affliction can be serious, especially for babies (half of the babies who contract it become hospitalized). Early symptoms mimic the flu, then progress to include apnea (pauses in breathing), a bad cough, vomiting, exhaustion and paroxysms (coughing fits) followed by a signature “whooping” noise when the child tries to regain their breath. Luckily the vaccine brings these symptoms down to a minimum or can prevent a child entirely from catching pertussis, so be sure to keep your child’s vaccinations up to date.
  3. Fifth Disease – is caused by parvovirus B19 and can cause an itchy skin rash all over the body, fever, runny nose and headache. It has been known to cause joint pain mainly in women who contract the disease. It can cause complications in rare cases such as anemia in the immunocompromised. It is spread through respiratory secretions, and usually resolves itself within a couple weeks. However, if symptoms are not going away you should talk to your doctor or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians for treatment options.


To avoid these troublesome afflictions from effecting your child or family, be sure to instill proper hygiene techniques in your little one, such as washing hands frequently with warm water and soap for the length of two run-throughs of the “Happy Birthday” song. Encourage your child not to put their hands near their face or in their mouths when they are in public. The best preventative measure against many childhood illnesses is to make sure your child is up to date on their immunizations and vaccinations. If your child does become ill with any of these conditions, keep them home to recover so they don’t infect other children.

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