I am a fairly new mum. My dear son has only just turned one. So you can imagine my shock and horror when he was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease. Here is my unfortunate encounter of the disease.
Late Sunday afternoon my dear son awoke from his nap and felt quite hot to touch. I took his temperature and it read just over 39 degrees. During the day he had been very happy and healthy and nothing came to mind as to why he would suddenly have a high fever. I stripped him down, gave him some water and kept an eye on him. Half an hour later the temperature reading was still over 39 degrees. I gave him a dose of Panadol to see whether that would assist in getting his fever down. Another half an hour passed and it was still over 39 degrees. I rang 13HEALTH and discussed his fever and symptoms to them. The only thing that came to mind why my dear son had a high temperature was due to an ear infection (which he is susceptible to). The 13HEALTH operator gave me the number for the after-hours doctor to arrange for a visit that evening.
The doctor arrived within half an hour. He took his temperature (around 38.5 degrees), listened to his chest and checked his ear. He said that it looked like an ear infection and prescribed antibiotics. He said that the fever will more than likely hold overnight and advised to let my dear son sleep in a t-shirt and nappy (even though it was a cool night).
We awoke Monday morning to find that dear son still had a temperature of 38.5 and was not looking lethargic and not his usual happy self. As soon as the chemist opened I went down and got his antibiotics so that I could start the course. His temperature finally broke at 8am. He appeared to be fine – he was playing with all of his toys, drinking his bottles and eating some food. After midday however, he was refusing his bottles and water – it appeared to me that he was in pain drinking them. I thought it may have been his teeth, but kept a close eye on him. After his bath, I had dear son lying on the change table ready to put on his nappy and pyjamas. I noticed a few small red dots around his genitals – but dismissed it as nappy rash.
Later that evening dear son refused his last bottle before going to sleep at 8:00pm. He only slept for half an hour and woke up in hysterics. Hubby and I tried to give him a bottle as he sounded hungry, but he refused and screamed louder. We then offered water but we got the same response. Nothing seemed to settle dear son. We tried his favourite TV show, playing with toys, and used anything that we could to distract him and get him to stop crying. We decided to take dear son into our bed so that we could all try and get some sleep. Dear son was extremely exhausted and eventually nodded off to sleep at 11pm. Half an hour passed and he woke up in hysterics again. We offered a bottle and water which was refused. Again, we tried TV, toys and singing to try and distract him and stop him from crying. By 1am he was still extremely upset and we were all exhausted. We decided to call 13HEALTH again. They were asking hubby about symptoms etc and hubby advised them that he had been diagnosed with an ear infection. The 13HEALTH operator thought that he may be in pain from the ear infection and advised to use Nurofen. They advised us to go to the doctor first thing in the morning to get dear son checked over.
By 3am dear son was that exhausted he fell into a deep sleep. Hubby and I were also exhausted and welcomed the break.
Dear son woke up at 6am Tuesday morning in hysterics again. Hubby prepared a bottle why I tried to settle him. Again, dear son refused his bottle and seemed to scream in pain when he tried to suck on the teat. We noticed some red blisters had appeared between his toes and on his wrists. We were able to make a doctor’s appointment at 9:30am. We advised the doctor that dear son hadn’t fed since around midday Monday, had only had a few hours sleep and seemed to be screaming in pain – even though we were giving him pain relief and was on antibiotics for his ear infection. The doctor had a look at dear son’s feet, hands and then inspected the inside of his mouth. She advised that the inside of his mouth and tongue were covered in blisters and were red raw. She said that is why dear son would be refusing his feed. He was diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease. She said unfortunately, hand food and mouth is a virus and nothing can be taken for it. We were told to alternate between Panadol and Nurofen every 4 hours to help relieve the pain. The doctor also said to keep an eye on him and watch for symptoms of dehydration.
When we arrived back home, I hopped online and asked a friend in nursing whether she knew much about hand, foot and mouth disease. She provided me with a useful link that took me to a factsheet on the disease. The following is an extract of the factsheet:
- Coxsackievirus infection may cause no symptoms at all or only very mild symptoms.
- When symptoms do occur, they include blisters that start as small red dots which later become ulcers. Blisters appear inside the cheeks, gums, and on the sides of the tongue, as well as on the hands and feet. In infants, sometimes blisters can be seen in the nappy area. Blisters usually last for seven to 10 days.
- Children can sometimes have a low fever, sore throat, tiredness, feel off colour and may be off their food for a day or two.
- Very rarely, the coxsackieviruses can cause other illnesses that affect the heart, brain, lining of the brain (meningitis), lungs, or eyes.
How is it treated?
Usually no treatment is needed. Paracetamol will relieve fever and discomfort. Do not give children aspirin. If the headache is severe, or if fever persists, consult a doctor.
I found that the treatment in the factsheet was referring to an older child – not a one year old that could not tell me whether he had a headache, sore throat etc. His fever had passed but he was still in discomfort. All the other information available on the internet about hand, foot and mouth disease also referred to an older child.
After an hour at being home, dear son started screaming again in hysterics. We could tell that he was hungry. We made another bottle but dear son had one suck and screamed out in pain again. Hubby and I made the joint decision to take him to hospital as we were worried that he was dehydrated.
Arriving at the hospital just before midday, we advised that dear son had been diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease and was not having his bottles or water. We were taken to a private room where a doctor examined him. Like the GP, the doctor advised that he had severe blisters on his tongue and inside his mouth which would be preventing him from taking his bottle. He said that he was on the borderline of dehydration and wanted dear son to start having some hydralyte. They also gave him some synthetic morphine to help with the pain (as Nurofen and Panadol didn’t seem to be helping).
After having to pin dear son down to force in the fluids by syringe, we were allowed to go home (as he had taken in 100mls). It took another 2 days of strong pain medication and forced fluids before dear son looked like he was on the mend and drinking on his own again. He was still in a fair bit of pain when trying to walk around (as his feet were covered in red blisters) – but his sense of humour and cheekiness had returned, much to the relief of mummy and daddy.
Guest Post by Celina Wood
We have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice – http://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
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