The Number One Reason For Your ChildS Doctor Visit

by : News Canada

(NC)-Infections caused by pneumococcal disease are a leading reason for many children's doctor visits in the first few years of life.

What is Pneumococcal Disease?

Pneumococcal disease is the result of a tiny bacterial organism. Children infected with this bacterium can develop serious illness, which can sometimes even be life threatening. These tiny bacteria cause diseases such as blood infections, bacterial pneumonia and middle ear infections.

One serious infection that you've likely heard of is bacterial meningitis, which causes severe inflammation around the brain and spinal cord. If left untreated, or not treated soon enough, meningitis can result in permanent hearing loss, paralysis or even death. If these bacteria reach the bloodstream they can also cause a serious blood infection. Once the bacterium is in the blood, it can travel to other parts of the body, including the brain, bone tissue, soft tissue or joints.

Pneumococcal disease is a common cause of these illnesses that result in many serious and painful infections, upsetting for the child and parent.

What About Treatment?

These infections are often difficult to diagnose. The symptoms are common and doctors have difficulty determining the problem, often it's too late and the damage is already done. As well, these infections are usually treated with antibiotics. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics has been on the increase in recent years, in both children and adults. Their widespread use has resulted in a decline in their effectiveness and an increase in the need for a second course of treatment for some children. This can lead to a longer recovery time, or worse still, if the child doesn't respond to the second course, the bacteria might simply linger, increasing the likelihood that other children will be infected as well.

Off to the Doctor's Office Again…

Children under the age of two are frequently ill, prompting many visits to the doctor's office. Cutting down on doctor visits is in both a parent and child's best interest. It is especially frustrating for those families that do not have regular access to a family doctor.

Doctor visits and time spent recuperating from illness can keep children at home, and keep parents away from work. Keeping your child healthy and free of infection by protecting them against illnesses like pneumococcal disease is the best way to avoid frequent visits to the doctor and more prescriptions for antibiotics.

Is My Child at Risk?

Children under five years of age can be at a greater risk for infections caused by pneumococcal disease than older children. Your child may be at greater risk of infection from pneumococcal disease if they fall into any of the groups below.

  • Regularly participating in group activities with other children

  • Recently had an ear infection

  • Of African or Native origin

  • Suffers from chronic diseases

  • Has a weakened immune system

  • Attending a pre-school or day care centre

If your child is at risk ask your doctor about ways to protect him or her from pneumococcal disease. Prevnar? is a breakthrough vaccine that protects infants and children aged six weeks to nine years from pneumococcal disease, and can help avoid visits to the doctor and decrease the chance of antibiotic resistance.