RECOGNISING WHEN PAIN IN YOUNGSTERS IS SERIOUS OR TRIVIAL

THOMAS HAS--------- A COLD ?

Thomas is 20 months old and a sturdy little chap not given to letting things get in the way of his development without complaint. He is a lucky little lad in that he has loving, caring and sensible parents who, whilst coping with his recently arrived brother, Oliver, make sure that Thomas does not feel left out or deprived of the attention young children both need and crave for.

Over the past 2 weeks Thomas displayed all the signs and symptoms of an ordinary seasonal cold and was treated as normal for this. However, as the symptoms went on longer than normal, a trip to the Doctors was arranged. Here the symptoms and length of time with them having been explained, the Doctor looked elsewhere for the root cause. Swiftly the diagnosis of an ear infection was made and appropriate treatment prescribed with the result that Thomas was soon himself again.

A WORLD OF PAIN ?

A simple, non sensational example of sound parenting, medical expertise and action taken and resulting in the desired outcome. A daily occurence for thousands of other Thomas "s and their parents. Simple formula being , Pain = Problem = Diagnosis = Treatment = Solution.

I recall, as a Primary School pupil one lesson relating to pain. We were asked by our Teacher whether we would be better off if we were not able to feel pain at all. Of course, at the age of 8 ,our Brains" Trust rapidly determined that the world would be a finer place without pain and we gave examples to "proove " our case. One girl said it would be much easier to pick roses without worrying about thorns pricking the hands, another boy said that playing football would be better because if you went over on your ankle you would not end up limpimg. Examples of young thinking to be in need of readjustment.

Naturally, our teacher took our words for what they were, innocent mistakes, and gently took us through the reasons for pain being a signal that there was danger and/or things were not right. Funny is it not, that 65 years on I can still vividly remember that lesson when so many others have vanished from my memory.

Hopefully, we can all accept that pain is a "good " thing in that it tells us to beware of further danger or that all is not well with us and our body. However, as we all know, pain can sometimes mislead us, even when, like myself, we have taken advice to "listen to your body ", Good advice but not much use to little Thomas for however hard he listened, the reason for his pain would not come at his age. Thus a call up to Mum and then the Doctor was the answer.

THAT THEN, PUTS MUM IN THE FRAME. DOES SHE HOPE THE KISS AND CUDDLE APPROACH WILL DEAL WITH ALL SYMPTOMS OR AT WHAT POINT DOES SHE DETERMINE MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS AND HELP IS NEEDED? SHE KNOWS THAT IF NOTHING NEW IS FOUND SHE RISKS BEING LABELLED AN OVER PROTECTIVE PARENT AND THAT THE LABEL WILL STICK TO HER TILL THE CHILDREN HAVE GROWN UP AND LEFT THE NEST.

STRAIGHTFOWARD PATHWAYS.

So , can we assist the harrased Mums in anyway ? A recemt article, brought out to me, good sense approaches that will help from cradle to adolescence and beyond in this stressful area. Here are the points made :

1. HEADACHES A VITAL NOTIFIER..

A} HEADACHES IN ALL PEOPLE HAPPEN. HOWEVER, IF THEY BECOME FREQUENT AND STRONGER, THEN MEDICAL ADVICE SHOULD BE SORT SOONER RATHER THAN LATER. HEADACHES CAN INDEED BE TRIVIAL, BUT THEY ARE ALSO THE HARBINGER OF SERIOUS PROBLEMS AT TIMES.

B} CAUSES AND POSSIBILITIES. HEADACHES ARE OFTEN CAUSED BY DEHYDRATION AND A SIMPLE DRINK OF WATER CAN ALLEVIATE THE SYMPTOM. OTHER CAUSES CAN BE A DROP IN BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS CAUSED BY MISSING A MEAL OR TWO, ANXIETY ABOUT THING ,LIKE MUM AND DAD ARGUING, OR STRESS AT SCHOOL ETC.

C} HEAVY HEADACHES OR MIGRAINES CAN OFTEN BEFALL ADOLESCENTS AND SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. EARLY MEDICAL ADVICE SHOULD BE SORT TO SEEK TO RULE OUT SINISTER CAUSES. OUTSIDE OF THIS, RESTING IN A DARKENED ROOM CAN OFTEN ASSIST BY SLOWING DOWN THE METABOLISM. IT IS RECOMENDED THAT A LOG OF THE MIGRAINES IS KEPT TO PRESENT TO THE DOCTOR DEALING WITH THE CASE. FREQUENCY OFTEN HIGHLIGHTS A PROBLEM NEEDING FURTHER INVESTIGATION.

D} THE VAST MAJORITY OF DOCTORS WILL UNDERSTAND AND TAKE SERIOUSLY ANY CASES OF HEADACHES IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS PUT BEFORE THEM. THEY ARE, HOWEVER HUMANS, AND THUS SOME ARE FLAWED. IT IS VITAL PARENTS RESIST ATTEMPTS TO DISMISS LIGHTLY HEADACHE SYMPTOMS. THE DOCTOR HAS A DUTY OF CARE TO DETERMINE TREATMENT AND THE NEED FOR THE SPEED OF TREATMENT. ADOLESCENTS OFTEN CAN REQUIRE ADVANCED DIAGNOSIS THROUGH CAT AND/OR MRI SCANS TO ENABLE CLEAR DIAGNOSIS TO BE MADE.

THE ABOVE, SEEM TO ME TO BE CLEAR, SUCCINT AND EASY TO UNDERSTAND PRINCILES FOR PARENTS TO TAKE FULLY ON BOARD AND TO USE AS THE BASIS OF THEIR PARENTING OF PAIN SYMPTOMS.

ABALANCING ACT.

Of course, not all pain symptoms involve the head. Most parents of boys especially will, at sometime think they have a season ticket to Accident and Emergency Departments at Hosptial. Deciding what is a sprain and what is a break is no job for an Amateur for example. Gashes ,cuts, bruises can and will happen. Sense says it is not the parent to decide on what needs stitching or not. Again, resist the fear of being thought to be overprotective. I speak as one who at the age of 16 had a confrontation with a glass door. The door won. My father, on my arrival back at home insisted on taking me to Hospital. I protested there was no need all the way through the 20 minutes it took to get there. The result 25 stiches in my arm and a feeling that at least on some things my father still knew best !

As a parent and grandparent now, I know you ALWAYS worry about your offspring. Keeping that worry in the right perspective is vital to good parenting. The middle ground is definitely the place to be for all ages of the child"s development.

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