Allergies are common, and so are more simple ‘intolerances’. Many children needlessly start highly complex food exclusion diets to treat physical symptoms.
I can diagnose your child’s allergy or intolerance sometimes with a blood test and sometimes with a simple measure such as single food exclusion, often for a relatively short period of time. Sometimes, special diets may be required for more complex intolerances or true allergies. In this case, I may choose to work with my colleague, a specialised dietician to ensure that your child’s nutrition is never put at risk.
Wheeze, cough and ‘chest infections’ are common especially in the winter months. Sometimes, they are due to asthma. Asthma can be confused with simple viral infections which give similar symptoms. Asthma needs treatment with regular medication using specialist guidelines, whereas viral wheeze needs occasional and different medication.
I will be able to tell you whether your child has asthma or not, and advise you on the best treatment to keep your child safe, happy and able to join in with all activities.
Constipation is extremely common and is due to a wide range of causes, such as children not eating well, not drinking enough and worrying. It is rarely due to a significant bowel disorder.
Treating with laxatives alone rarely works long term. The child becomes scared of going to the toilet, and this worsens the problem. I always use careful behavioural management as well as gentle medications. This approach teaches a child, whatever their age, to understand what is happening to them so that they feel more in control. I have an excellent success rate in treating children and teenagers, often with years of failure, misery and embarassment.
I will look for the cause of the constipation, as well as treating it where necessary with gentle medications. I will help you with any dietary changes necessary, as I understand how difficult it can be to get children to eat healthily.
Diarrhoea may be due to infection, food intolerance or allergy, or rarely, due to an underlying general bowel or immune problem. Your child may need tests to find out what is causing the problem so that their nutrition is not put at risk.
I have the experience to know when tests are necessary and when reassurance is all that is needed.
Eczema is very common and, in most cases, responds well to careful use of creams alone. In some cases, dietary adjustments are needed. I will advise on all aspects of treating eczema, including dietary changes and allergen avoidance and detection.
Epilepsy can show up as strange movements, ‘blanks’ or funny spells. Other causes such as heart problems or psychological problems can look like epilepsy.
Diagnosing epilepsy is complicated and can have serious consequences if mistakes are made. Children need assessment from an experienced doctor trained specifically in childhood epilepsy so that the diagnosis is not missed, or equally importantly, not made incorrectly.
My considerable experience and higher qualifications qualify me to treat children with mild to moderate epilepsy according to national ‘best practice’. Those with complex epilepsy should be looked after by an Epilepsy Specialist such as those at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Fits, Faints and Funny turns
These events can cause considerable worry to parents. Many are due to quite straightforward things which I can reassure you about, and which rarely need any form of treatment. Occasionally, the underlying cause is more significant, such as epilepsy or an abnormal heart rhythm. I have the experience to diagnose what is happening to your child and to treat it. I may need to arrange tests such as an EEG (brain wave test) or ECG (heart tracing).
Headaches and migraines
Headaches cause parents huge worry as they tend to fear the worst. Most headaches are due to simple causes which are generally straightforward to treat successfully.
I have the necessary experience to know when a headache needs to be investigated and when reassurance is the best management. I may rarely need to arrange a brain scan for your child.
Heart murmurs are extra noises heard in the heart. They are quite common and frequently ‘innocent’, meaning that there is nothing actually wrong with your child’s heart. The older the child is, the more likely this is the case. I may have to arrange a chest X–ray and an ECG (heart tracing), neither of which will worry your child. If I feel the murmur may not be innocent, I would need to refer your child to a heart specialist from Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
A child with painful joints or a limp can be concerning for parents, especially if there is a family history of arthritis. In actual fact, most joint problems in children are due to temporary causes and will settle with minimal treatment. Parents need to see a Paediatrician who knows when to arrange further investigations, but equally, can assess and simply provide reassurance if appropriate. Your child may need blood tests to ensure that there is no serious cause.
Problems with growth or sexual maturation
Children who appear too short, too tall or who are not developing sexually as they should are always worrying. They can be teased and suffer lack of self-esteem. Sometimes, the cause is a family tendency towards short stature or late puberty, but at other times, there is a significant problem which won’t improve with time, needing further tests.
I can monitor your child, arranging tests such as blood tests, X–rays and scans where necessary, if there are concerns about growth or puberty. Highly complex tests may be infrequently required, needing referral to a Paediatric Endocrinologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Babies who cry, vomit and arch their back can often be suffering from Reflux. This is when the milk in their tummy goes back up towards their throat rather than staying down. Reflux can cause normal stomach acid to hit the gullet (oesophagus) which can be intensely painful. This causes screaming and back-arching, often with poor feeding and sleeping. It can also cause persistent vomiting, and even failure to thrive if severe.
It’s very important to distinguish it from other less common causes of vomiting, such as urine infections, food intolerances and rare gut abnormalities. Comprehensive treatment, with medication where necessary, enables your baby to feed and grow in comfort, and you as a parent to enjoy nurturing your child.
Children, especially for the first few years of life, often seem to be constantly suffering from one infection or another. Parents often worry that there is something wrong with their child’s immune system. The vast majority of infections are simply Nature’s way of stimulating an immature childhood immune system into learning to cope with future infections.
Certain types of infections, however, warn experienced Paediatricians to check a child very carefully including blood tests where necessary.
I have the experience to know when to reassure and when to investigate, giving you peace of mind that your child is not in danger.
Tummy aches are extremely common in children, including those going on for some time. Most pains are actually due to relatively straightforward things such as constipation, which are generally easy to treat. Sometimes, there is no obvious cause, and I can quickly arrange tests such as blood tests and a scan, if only for reassurance.
Emotional upsets and stresses frequently show up as tummy pains. It can often be difficult to work out what is due to stress and what is due to a physical cause, especially as the two get mixed up together. Parents worry that they are ‘missing something’, and need the reassurance of an experienced Paediatrician who can spot if there really is a physical cause, but who has the sensitivity to be able to piece together what may be happening at an emotional level if this is the case.
I have considerable experience both in diagnosing and treating physical causes of tummy pains. Sometimes, the pains are due to deep-seated emotional stresses needing careful psychological help. I can quickly arrange any necessary diagnostic tests, attending sensitively to any underlying stresses.
Urine infections are quite common but so is simple cystitis. The younger the child, the more important it is to diagnose a true urine infection reliably. Symptoms can be confusing, especially in a baby. I can accurately assess your child, putting your mind at rest. I will arrange any necessary scans to make sure your child’s kidneys are protected at all times.
Weight issues can worry both parents and children. We all hope that our children are thriving, but when a child isn’t ‘average’, we ask whether there is something wrong. I can advise you when you feel your child is not putting on weight as well as expected, so that any underlying cause is carefully looked for, as well as working to make sure your child’s weight is right for them.
Alternatively, I can help your overweight child to lose weight without losing their self–esteem, by means of careful dietary advice, exercise and behavioural methods.