Signs and symptoms associated with rheumatological diseases in children | Health - Hindustan Times

Signs and symptoms associated with rheumatological diseases in children

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Apr 24, 2024 12:18 PM IST

Many associate arthritis with elderly, overlooking the fact that children can also be affected. Watch out for these signs of rheumatological diseases in kids

To raise awareness about rheumatological diseases in children, communities worldwide are uniting to shine a spotlight on the challenges faced by young patients with rheumatological diseases and their families. The theme for 2024, "Unlocking Hope," emphasises the importance of early detection, proper diagnosis and ongoing support for children living with rheumatic diseases.

Signs and symptoms associated with rheumatological diseases in children (Image by zinkevych on Freepik)
Signs and symptoms associated with rheumatological diseases in children (Image by zinkevych on Freepik)

Impact of rheumatological diseases on children

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Himanshi Chaudhary, Consultant Clinical Immunology and Pediatric Rheumatology at Alpha Superspeciality Clinic, shared, “Children with rheumatological diseases often experience pain, swelling and stiffness in their joints. This can affect their mobility and daily activities. Joint involvement may result in reduced mobility, affecting a child's ability to participate in physical activities, sports, and other age-appropriate activities”

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She revealed, “Simple tasks such as dressing, grooming, and writing may become challenging for children with rheumatological diseases. Flare-ups and medical appointments may result in missed school days, impacting a child's academic performance. Chronic conditions can have a psychological impact on children, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression. It may also affect their self-esteem and social interactions. Managing a chronic illness in a child can be emotionally challenging for families. Parents and caregivers may need to invest significant time and effort in coordinating care, attending appointments, and providing emotional support.”

Early Detection: A Key to Better Outcomes

Medical experts emphasise the significance of early detection in managing pediatric rheumatic diseases effectively. Dr Himanshi Chaudhary said, “Unfortunately, these conditions often go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed, leading to delayed intervention and prolonged suffering for young patients. It is important for children with rheumatological diseases to receive comprehensive and multidisciplinary care involving pediatric rheumatologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. A supportive and understanding environment at home and school can also play a crucial role in managing the impact of these diseases on a child's life.”

It is our collective responsibility to raise awareness, break down barriers and provide support for children facing rheumatological challenges. Dr Himanshi Chaudhary asserted, “By unlocking hope through education, early detection and community involvement, we can create a world where every child has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their health conditions. Together, let us pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive future for all young warriors battling rheumatic diseases.”

Breaking Myths and Dispelling Misconceptions

Many people associate arthritis and related conditions with the elderly, overlooking the fact that children can also be affected. Dr Himanshi Chaudhary said, “Educating the public about the early signs and symptoms of pediatric rheumatological diseases is paramount. These conditions often manifest differently in children than in adults, making it vital for parents, caregivers, and educators to be aware of potential indicators. These conditions affect the joints, connective tissues, and sometimes other organs, leading to a range of symptoms and potential complications.”

According to her, some of the signs and symptoms associated with rheumatological diseases in children are:

1. Joint pains, joint swellings, morning stiffness in body

2. Chronic backache, especially in morning

3. Inflammation in the eye

4. Recurrent oral ulcers

5. Muscle weakness

6. Skin tightening

7. Bluish discoloration of skin

8. Long standing, recurrent or unexplained fever

9. Long standing, recurrent and unexplained rashes

10. Unexplained low platelets, low blood cells, low hemoglobin

11. Unexplained kidney disease, heart disease

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