Ask the doctor

How can I protect my child from sports injuries?

My eight-year-old enjoys playing football, gymnastics and tennis with great passion and intensity. I worry he is overexerting and can injure himself during playtime. How do I protect him from sports injuries? — Manas K., Bangalore

It’s commonly accepted that sports are good for children’s physical health and well-being. But it’s impossible to protect them from suffering injuries on playing fields. However you can take precautions to ensure that injury risks are minimised.

First, choose well-reputed sports centres and well-recommended coaches, with good training plans and a system of early injury recognition and treatment. Second, ensure that while playing, your child always wears permitted protective gear. Also before play, warm-up and cool-down exercises prevent muscle pulls, tears and sprains. It is also recommended that your child gets a day’s break from weekly play and for a month annually or as advised by the coach. This will allow the body to recover and recuperate from injuries and sprains. Make sure you give your child adequate fluids to ensure hydration during play and training. Most important, advise him against becoming over-focussed on winning. Encourage him to play for enjoyment and developing his health and fitness.

 

My four-year-old suffers from constipation even though he eats plenty of vegetables and fruits and drinks gallons of water. Sometimes I feel he is withholding his bowel movement. Please advise on course of treatment. — Namrata Ashok, Chennai

You need to consult a paediatrician who will ascertain if it’s a medical problem that needs to be treated, or if he is suffering from ‘functional constipation’.

Functional constipation is a common condition in children. The symptoms often begin in early childhood with children reporting frequent constipation and pain while passing stool. Consequently children avoid this daily activity, creating harder stools. It becomes a vicious cycle. Functional constipation requires taking a course of prescribed medicines. Once the bowel movements are regularised and medication stops, you need to ensure that your child drinks plenty of fluids, eats fruit, vegetables and other high-fibre food.

 

My six-year-old daughter often complains about itching at the edge of her eyes. I have observed that she tries to scratch away small, white flakes near her eyes. Please advise. — Rishita K., Bangalore

White flakes and itching suggest that she has an allergy. You need to consult a paediatrician who will examine your child’s eyes thoroughly and prescribe medicines and line of treatment. 
 

(Dr. Nisha Miriam George is a paediatric consultant at Sundaram Medical Foundation and Dr. Rangarajan Memorial Hospital, Chennai)