Right from when you’re trying to conceive to when actually happens, you go through a tirade of pregnancy test kits, fertile window calculators, and the 9 months ofa physical and emotional rollercoaster. But, giving birth to a healthy baby makes it all worth the trouble. But, your rollercoaster ride doesn’t end there. Even after birth, your baby is still undergoing a lot of physiological developments. One such major development is happening in the baby’s immune system. While babies are strong, their developing immunity means that they’re prone to some illnesses. Although most of these are not a big cause for concern, some may be serious.
To help you be better prepared, we’ve put together some of the common infant ailments you should know about.
Acid reflux occurs when the contents of the stomach flow back into the oesophagus (commonly called as the food pipe). This happens because the baby’s Lower Oesophageal Sphincter (LES), which is the valve between oesophagus and stomach, is still immature.
Symptoms - Coughing or gagging while feeding, spitting up frequently, vomiting, wet burps, swollen tummy. These are unpleasant, so the baby will refuse to feed, cry excessively, and draw up its legs to its tummy after feeding.
Treatment–The chances of an acid reflux increase when the stomach is too full. Instead of nursing fewer but large feeds, make sure you give frequent but smaller feeds. This puts less pressure on the LES. Frequent feeds also induce salivation, which helps neutralise the acids in the stomach and lubricate the oesophageal lining. Burp your infant more frequently to relieve the gastric pressure. Keep the baby upright for about an hour after feeding to ease digestion. Breastfeeding is the best as breast milk is easier to digest.
Viral infections that affect baby’s nasal membranes and respiratory passages cause cold. The infections cause them to swell and fill with mucus.
Symptoms–Congestion and runny nose are major symptoms of a cold. Coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and a mild fever are some other signs.
Treatment– Ensure the baby is hydrated. Use nasal sprays and nebulisers to keep its nasal passages open. Make sure you’re not eating or drinking anything cold either. If the cold persists, consult a doctor, who will prescribe safe medications for the baby.
When fluid accumulates in the space behind the eardrum, it gets infected by bacteria or virus. Ear infections are painful because of the build-up of the fluid and the subsequent pressure on the eardrum, which causes painful inflammation.
Symptoms–The constant pain will make the baby cry, especially during feeding and lying down, since suckling and lying flat increases pressure on the auditory tubes thus causing more pain. Other symptoms include inability to fall asleep, loss of appetite and diminished hearing.
Treatment - Some of the pain will be eased when the ear is cleared of blockage. Do not attempt to self-medicate the baby or try to clean the baby’s ears yourself.Consult a doctor for the best course of action. The doctor will suggest medication based on the intensity of the infection and inflammation. This will also avoid recurring ear infections which can lead to severe problems like loss of hearing.
A fungus called candida, which is present in the mouth, can cause oral infection. The fungus grows when the body’s immune system is weak. It leads to sores in the mouth and on the tongue. Antibiotic medication can reduce the number of healthy bacteria in the mouth and facilitate the growth of the candida fungus.
Symptoms - Sores, thick and white in appearance, on the roof of the mouth, inside of the cheeks, and on the tongue. These sores grow in size and number gradually. Since the mouth is sore, the baby may tend to fuss during feeding.
Treatment - When you see the first signs of oral thrush, consult a doctor immediately. The doctor may recommend oral fungus medication along with pain relief. It takes about two weeks for the infection to be cured. If you are breastfeeding, the doctor might suggest applying the medication on your nipples to prevent the infection from passing back and forth.
Rotavirus is a contagious virus that causes stomach flu (gastroenteritis) and severe diarrhoea. Babies contract the virus when they come in contact with a contaminated object and put their hands in their mouths. Droplets of air are also carriers of the virus.
Symptoms - The symptoms include watery diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain and loss of appetite. It also causes intense dehydration, and can result in hospitalisation. Generally, over six to nine days, it resolves itself.
Treatment - Keep the baby hydrated. Breastfeed more often. If your baby has started on solid foods, give water and infant electrolyte solutions. Feed them simple and non-oily foods. Avoid dairy products, sugary foods and apple juice. The best way to prevent the disease is getting a rotavirus injection. Good hygiene practices around the house is another way of avoiding this. Washing hands regularly, and practicing strong hygiene habits, especially after diaper changes, bathroom visits, and before and after meals.
A little diligence can go a long way in ensuring your baby’s health and well-being. The symptoms mentioned above are standard symptoms and the treatment for a baby may vary from that of another. Don’t hesitate to constantly consult with your baby’s paediatrician in case of any doubts in case you spot these symptoms in your baby. Got more questions regarding your baby? Drop them in comments!