By Dr Ravichandar Kelkar
The process of building immunity starts when young and goes till the end of life. But what if the immune system which should fight diseases does the reverse? Juvenile arthritis is one such condition which affects children younger than 16 years of age. This auto-immune condition, instead of protecting our body from foreign particles, makes it prone to many other diseases.
This paediatric condition of arthritis is an umbrella term which can be used for inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis. Few juvenile arthritis cases cause joint inflammation, swelling, pain and tenderness, while other cases show no joint inflammation or a few show only skin and internal inflammation. The actual causes for juvenile arthritis is still not known, but few researchers believe that it is hereditary or can be because of environmental factors too.
Since a few cases of juvenile arthritis show no symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose this condition in children. Usually, when kids complain about having continuous pains in their joints, the condition cannot be stated as juvenile arthritis immediately as this specific symptom can be associated with other issues like bone disorders, lupus, cancer or lyme diseases. In such conditions, juvenile arthritis can be diagnosed through tests such as:
• Blood count test
• Urine test
• Blood culture
• Test for rheumatoid factor
• Joint fluid and synovial fluid sampling
• X-ray for broken or damaged bones
• Bone marrow test
There are many types of arthritis. Not all juvenile arthritis can show symptoms and as per type, the symptoms may vary too. A few signs may include:
• Joint stiffness, during the early mornings
• Pain, swelling, tenderness and limping in joints
• Rash, weight loss, fatigue
• Persistent fever
• Eye redness and pain, blurred vision
To improve such conditions among children below the age of 16, healthy lifestyle patterns such as the below should be adopted.
• Eat healthy: Consume foods that contain omega oils like fish, olive oil. Along with this, eat fibre rich foods, green vegetables, fruits, cereals. Avoid all foods that contain excess fat and cholesterol.
• Exercise regularly: Exercising can improve overall health.
• Hot and cold packs: If your kid is suffering with pain, then cold and hot packs can provide a definite amount of relief from the pain.
• Extra Supplements if needed: Due to the change in environmental and social factors, the food that is being consumed is not providing all the necessary supplements. So by taking in extra supplements, the further health related issues can be avoided.
• Avoid stress: Children below 16 years of age are more prone to depression. If your child is suffering with pain and has trouble expressing it, consult a psychologist as dealing with the pain can be excruciating.
• Maintain weight: It is very crucial for children to maintain the right weight as excess weight can put extra pressure on the joints.
The only way to control the pain that comes with juvenile arthritis is through regular medication and by maintaining and adopting a healthy diet. Meeting with a qualified doctor as early as possible when symptoms develop helps in the treatment.
(The writer is Sr Consultant- Orthopedic Department Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal.)
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