Last week, the little one was being diagnosed of having the very much dreaded Hand Foot Mouth Disease.
Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a viral infection that’s caused by a group of enteroviruses, however, the most commonly would be the Coxsackie virus.
Here in Singapore, we can expect HFMD to be around all year round, with seasonal outbreaks in childcare centres, kindys and primary schools. I have read that only 1 strand of the virus would contain serious complications and be fatal, else other strands of the virus are usually quite mild.
Just like most flu or chicken pox, there is an incubation period for HFMD – around 3 to 5 days. Usually it affects mostly young toddlers below 5 years old, but adults can also get the virus.
Though the little one’s childcare centre has HFMD outbreaks in period of about 3 to 5 months interval, it seriously did not occur to me that she would get it (so soon), lol!
So here’s what really happened:
Thursday: We were on our way to fetch EQ back home, and received a call from the PG teacher, informing us that EQ was having low grade fever of about 37.8-38C. Since it was quite a low grade fever, which was really common before having the flu, and so we were not too concerned over it.
Friday: I was “tasked” with taking care of the little one at home because the husband needed to be present at his project site. I realised she was acting a little weird, as she was very sticky to me and refused breakfast and lunch. She only managed to have some popsicles during breakfast. I had to cradle her in my arms as she fell asleep for her nap.
Her temperature also hovers around 38-39C. Despite alternating ibuprofen and paracetamol in 3 hours interval, her temperature remains around 38C. I was so worried because it meant she was having a fever throughout the day! It also didn’t help when she refused solid food for her meals.
Later that night, she refused milk, which was even more weird! I reached out to my friends for help and advice because we don’t have any experience of her fever not subsiding at all. One of my friends mentioned that it resembles her son having HFMD a while ago, and I was thinking: OH NO!
So, we confirmed it was probably HFMD because she was refusing milk and said that the milk was “spicy” and kept crying. Then I saw an ulcer on her lips, and some more white spots on her gum.
Saturday: We brought EQ to our trusty PD, Dr Lim Kwang Hsien, early in the morning, while taking care that the husband waited with her outside the clinic, and minimised contact with other children in the clinic.
Both the clinic assistant and PD looked at us and asked: Really (HFMD) ah? Which made us really wanted to LOL with their worried faces hehehe..
We were really happy with this PD referred by my gynae, because he is so experienced, his diagnosis is usually quick and accurate. He is also patient, when we always had that worried look being first-time parents, and also offers us advice generously.
So we returned home with more paracetamol and ibuprofen since the temperature was expected to spike, with more ulcers appearing. He also told us of scenarios when we should return to the hospital for admission in case of dehydration.
So for days between Saturday to Monday, the little one refused food and even water. We had to try different chilled drinks and popsicles – like cold water, cold Ribena, cold packet drinks, cold Yakult etc. Yet none appealed to her. She only took sips of cold water when she was very thirsty I guess. Whenever she wanted to drink milk, it seemed to only aggravate the ulcers. So we took dairy products off for her, except Yakult.
One of my mummy friends also mentioned that I could applying essential oil on her. I also started diffusing the Thieves oil and Peppermint.
She also had this layer of skin on her lips, possibly by the ulcers.
When Tuesday came, things got better. She started asking for ice cream, and was happily eating that. And gradually she could ask for cold packet drinks and Ribena, and we knew she must be recovering then 🙂
Then she started to eat omelette, which I cooked for lunch.
So it took about 4 days or so for her to starting recover from the HFMD, and we were feeling thankful for that! We have heard that symptoms could stretch to 6 or 7 days or so.
I have also heard from my friend that they would develop immunity towards the strand of virus that they have caught – so one strand down!
Hopefully she won’t that further strands of viruses from the HFMD! It was really terrible to see the young toddler in pain, and without food or water for days.
1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
I guess the most important part of fighting the virus would be to keep the child hydrated while keeping the fever down.
You can standby chilled items for the child to choose – they would be likely to be choosy due to the discomfort they feel. If there are any kind of food that seem to aggravate the condition, skip that.
Food you can offer: chilled water, home brewed barley, honey water, homemade jellies, homemade popsicles.
Although I prefer to keep my child away from processed food, but I would still offer because I would be happy if she eats or drinks. Eg: chilled Ribena, Yakult, packet drinks, commercial ice cream, yogurt.
2. Family Support
It can be frustrating to handle a toddler who has HFMD because it can be really painful and uncomfortable for them. You probably need a helper – so you might be lucky if you have a domestic helper – else you might need to rely on your trusty husband or any other family members who would wanted to help.
It was tough on me because I was taking care of the toddler most of the days, and I am currently pregnant. So it was also tiring juggling the meals, desserts and drinks, and comforting her to naps.
I was upset when my MIL asked the husband why was he taking leave.
So you really needed the support during this time, especially so if you are usually the care giver for your child.
This is also the time where you needed to keep your child away from other children and/or adults. We tried to keep her at home most of the time, and occasionally bringing her to stroll near our house for some fresh air.
While bringing your child to the doctor’s, it is also important that you take measures to ensure your child is not in close contact with other children to minimise spreading of the virus.