Friday, July 27, 2012

Common Childhood Illnesses - Common Cold and Flu

by Dr. Dan Giap Liang

Common Cold and Flu
The terms "a cold" and "the flu" are often confused and used interchangeably by parents. The common cold, caused by any one of 250 viruses, lasts for a few days and causes cough and a stuffy or runny nose, which may be accompanied by a fever. The "flu", caused by the influenza virus, is a potentially more serious infection but often begins like a cold, but is usually associated with spiking fever, rigors, chills, body aches and headache. The child may have poor appetite and complains of weakness and is listless.

The common cold usually lasts a few days and usually disappears on its own without any complication or problem. On the other hand, the flu can last up to a week or even longer. Also, the cold, cough and fatigue from flu can go on for weeks. Hence, the biggest difference is that the flu is not the same as a cold as it is potentially a much more dangerous infection.

Both the viruses causing the common cold and the flu are spread from one person to another by airborne droplets in a cough or a sneeze. It is important to realise that these viruses can also be spread indirectly because it can live for up to 48 hours outside of the body. This virus can be contracted from surfaces such as toys, eating utensils, computer keyboards, doorknobs, and most surfaces. Don't forget that unwashed hands can also transmit the virus.


Toddlers with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and heart problems can develop sever forms of the disease like the deadly pneumonia. The influenza virus weakens the body's immune or defense system and makes it easier for bacterial infections to occur. As such, extra care should be taken to prevent these children at risk. Influenza infection rates are higher in younger children, and even healthy kids can end up quite sick as a result of the flu. Some studies have shown that up to 40% of pre-school age children develop the flu and on average the pre-school toddler would have approximately 11 episodes of upper respiratory tract infections in a year.

There is no specific cure or medicine for both the common cold and the flu. Usually, adequate rest with sufficient fluids suffice with judicious use of paracetamol to manage high fevers and body aches. Occasionally, symptomatic relief with mild antihistamines may be prescribed but these are not recommended routinely and should be used with caution.

Aspirin is an absolute contraindication and antibiotics are hardly of any use. Influenza vaccines are available but protection usually lasts for one year until the new annual strain of influenza virus is identified.

Health education and personal hygiene is crucial like avoiding close contact with ill people and keeping the child at home when sick. Teach children, like adults, to cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Hand washing, especially before meals, should be taught from an early age.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Happy birthday, Fuh Ming!

After so many years of friendship, I finally get to celebrate your birthday with you, my dear! And not just with you, with all the other friends from Desa, too.

A big thank you to your good buddy, Ray, for again, going to Padi House to get the lovely birthday cake. I quite like the Beer Factory photo frame - quite cute, don't you think?

Another year of happy memories, of wonderful experiences and meaningful friendships! Happy birthday, Fuh Ming!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Open Day 2012

Open Day for us at Kembangsari is a big affair. Preparations for the day begin right from after Chinese New Year, as parts of the preparation involves daily routines, such as filing and class displays. For educators who diligently perform their daily tasks, Open Day is a breeze.

Of course, the few days before the big day are the most stressful, as everyone race to put final touches to their displays, ensure that progress reports are filled, that walls are re-painted.

Bright and early on the actual day, the colourful flags and balloons go up. The gates are left open and chairs are lined up. Gradually, cars line up in front of both premises and the mixed chitter chatter of adults and children fill the air.

Open Day for us at Kembangsari is mainly for us to have a detailed conversations with parents, conversations which we normally are not able to conduct during normal business days. These informal chats allow us to understand further their goals and priorities for, as well as understandings towards the education and care of their children. We also use these chats to gauge how they view the centre-parent-child relationship we share with them.

Of course, the event also allows parents a chance to become more familiar with the people and place that make up a big portion of their children's lives. They get to admire the displays throughout the building. They get to share their children's enthusiasm for sand play, water play and gardening. They get to bring their books and other works back home after some brief explanation by the educator in charge of the group.

In addition, they also get the chance to have a look at photographs of daily activities and other events, such as excursions, incursions and Children's Day. On top of that, there is free lunch, which normally is nasi lemak with some other dessert, fruits and juice.

The best part of Open Day is the part where siblings of current students come along, many of them who were previously with us, too. Some even older students also drop by to say hi. Gives a really cosy feeling when we see them all grown up and doing well.

We may dislike how busy and stressed out we feel before the event but during and after the event, we are left with feelings of contentment and happiness, especially when parents show appreciation for our effort and when ex-students walk in and treat the place like home. Of course, parents who leave feedback that are negative, we accept and bring up for discussion during our staff meetings. Feedback of any sort, work as both encouragement and reminder that we constantly have room for improvement, that we must always put our best feet forward.