By Philemon Kiprop.
Do you know that a sore throat and tonsils among children below fifteen years of age is a recipe to heart complications? Yes it is, a fact that many parents and caregivers ignore.
The heart is the life organ. Any time the heart fails it causes death and if interfered with can cause lifelong effects among individuals.
The Mater Hospital organized a free heart screening for rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart diseases recently. The function saw over 3,000 school going children screened with hundred and fifty of them referred for advanced treatment.
The minors were diagnosed with rheumatic heart diseases and congenital heart diseases.
According to Roseanne Nyabera, a Cardiac Programme Coordinator at The Mater Hospital, most cases of heart complications among children go unnoticed with majority of them preventable.
In an exclusive interview with Kajiado County Press, Nyabera said most parents are not aware of tell-tale signs that cause complications of the heart only to be reported late. She said rheumatic fever; an illness caused by Strep Germ bacteria normally presents itself as sore throat affecting many tissues especially the heart.
“The fever will eventually cause rheumatic heart disease caused by scaring of the heart valves from the infection. This forces the heart to work harder than usual to pump the blood,” she said adding that such cases need surgery to replace or repair the valve is recommended.
Nyabera said the condition occurs at any age but most common in children under the age of 15 years.
Apart from the sore throat, other signs that parents should take serious include pain and difficulty in swallowing, swollen painful joints, fever and swollen nodules. Breathing problem and chest discomfort should not also be taken lightly.
The Programme Coordinator said the hospital is doing sensitization programme countrywide to create awareness to parents on the preventive measures. She said highland regions of the country are most affected due to cold.
Simple measures to prevent these complications are treating sore throats using antibiotics, wash hands regularly and avoiding overcrowding. Providing healthy balanced diet is highly recommendable as it helps boost child’s immunity.
Congenital heart disease is another complication that goes unnoticed. These are children born with a hole in the heart. The cardiologist said early treatment is the only solution to avert deaths caused by heart diseases.