Dealing with a toddler virus – Hand, foot, mouth disease
We have spent the last week dealing with an unfortunate virus the girls caught while we were traveling, hand foot mouth disease(HFMD). I won’t go into all the detail of the disease, you can read about it here or here I guess I was lucky in the sense that I knew to look out for the symptoms because one of the kids we were traveling with had been sick recently with the same virus. The symptoms started Friday evening with a fever of just over 101, three days after having been with our friends. I called our doctor’s office immediately. The nurse told me at 15 months old 101 is considered a low fever, toddlers do not need to go to the hospital or doctor unless a fever reaches 104 or stays high for more than three days. She advised that I let the fever ride because it helps to kill the virus. I could give the girls Tylenol and Advil to ease some of the discomfort. But aside from that because it’s viral there is not much to be done except wait.
The next symptom to appear were the blisters that form in and around the mouth and throat, on the hands and feet, and can show up pretty much anywhere on their tiny little bodies. Jordan had it worse than Talia on her face and behind her knees. Both girls got what looked like bad diaper rash but was also related to the virus.
It’s a fairly common virus for young children to get and they can get it more than once because there are different strains of the same type of virus. Adults can get it if they have not been exposed to it previously but because it is communicated through throat discharged – saliva, sneezing and coughing or through the discharge from the blisters, adults can take the necessary precautions to avoid coming in contact with it. For example, don’t kiss your kids of the mouth, don’t share eating utensils or food and turn away when your kids sneezes or coughs.
I hated seeing my children go through the discomfort of this virus. The fever made them cranky and clingy. They didn’t each much for dinner Friday night. I am sure they were achy because as tired as they looked they just wouldn’t fall asleep that night. It worsened over the course of the night. Each baby ended up sleeping with one of us, Jordan with me in our bedroom and Talia with my husband in the guest room, waking every hour and crying for some time. We continually offered water and milk but they would cry after taking just a sip. Anything in their mouths irritated the blisters and became painful.
We spent the whole next day just trying to distract them and keep them comfortable. Our girls don’t like the taste of medicines, they are all cherry or grape flavored and really sweet, and our girls are not use to these flavors so they don’t take medicine easily. We had to make them take it though because minutes after they would be in much better moods and even eat a little. The Advil would help relive the pain in their mouth so that they could eat more comfortably and the Tylenol helped everything else from hurting and kept the fever low. We alternated medicines all day. I read that Oragel helped to ease the pain in their mouths as well but my girls didn’t like that too much. I tried putting a little in Jordan’s mouth but she just cried and ran away. I also read that a combination of Maalox and Benadryl can help sooth the blister pain inside the mouth. We didn’t try this only because by the time I heard about it the pain had started to diminish. I imagine it would be better for a slightly older child that doesn’t try to bite you if you put something in their mouth.
We took the girls out Saturday afternoon, for a quick trip to the grocery store, we needed to get out of the house. Poor little babies, they looked so tired.
As soon as we got home we gave them a bath. They normally love bath time but today they were pretty indifferent then just got upset. That night was more of the same. They slept a few hours in their cribs then around midnight woke up and each slept with on of us for the rest of the night. The next day we continued to try to get them to eat and drink anything. We tried water, water with ice, juice, we even gave them nutella on bread.
They would take a few sips here and there or a few bites here or there. We watched a lot of TV and movies and played during their little bursts of energy.
I took them for a walk, they slept for a bit then cried the whole way home.
It was not an easy two days, not for them, not for us. And it was certainly not the fun activity filled weekend I had planned. But by Sunday evening the girls were drinking milk again (smaller amounts than normal) and they ate frozen go gurt pops. And on Monday, although the girls were a bit sluggish and weak compared to their usual selves, their appetites were back and the blisters had started to clear up. Like any open sore it will take some time for all of them to go away and for any scaring to clear up.
We were lucky that the 3-6 days of symptoms was on the shorter end for us.
In the mean time we skipped story time at the library and music class and will probably stay out of arms reach of other babies for a few more days just to be safe and not pass it along. While their coughs and sneezes are not contagious anymore any discharge from remaining blisters could be. And since I’m not sure how long the virus will live on objects they have touched while sick we will wait a couple of weeks before inviting our little friends over to play.
We did get in a fun winter accessories fashion show in Sunday evening before the weekend was done.