Horror for high-rise kids
Q: I HAVE been listening to Eric Clapton's latest album which won several Grammy awards and is dedicated to the five-year-old son who died when he fell out of an apartment window. I know that this is a big problem with so many high-rises in Hong Kong. Could you please inform your readers of what they can do to prevent such tragedies? Dr Rose writes: Eric Clapton's son is not the only child to meet his death by falling out of an apartment window. In the past few years, a number of young children have fallen from high-rises because their parents have failed to install simple and cheap safety devices on their apartment windows.
The main reason for these deaths is that the child has been left unattended in an apartment where there have been no safety locks or bars on the windows. Because Hong Kong does not have any laws governing the installation of window bars and locks in high-rises it is incumbent on parents to install such devices.
The most popular window protection devices are metal bars over the window. When these bars are installed, the windows can still be opened and fresh air let in. An alternative to the window bars is locks on the windows, with the master key kept in a safe place by the parents. Some people do not like this method because they cannot easily open the windows. Another method is to put little chains and locks on each window permitting the windows to be opened a few inches, but not far enough so that a small child can climb through.
Each of these safety devices can be installed quickly and inexpensively by a tradesman. Try to pick one who is familiar with this work. Ask other parents in your apartment building to let you know which company they have used.
Q: OVER the past few months my 11-year-old daughter has had three or four nosebleeds. Can you tell me what these are caused by and the proper way to stop them? Dr Rose writes: Nosebleeds can be caused by a number of reasons. In children they are either caused by an injury to the nose or by small raw areas or sores on the nasal septum. Nosebleeds most frequently occur when a child has an infection or cold in the nose, or an allergy, or when he or she sleeps in an unusually dry room. If your child sleeps in an air-conditioned room at night, this may be the cause.
It's quite easy to stop a nose from bleeding. First, try to calm the child down especially if the sight of blood makes him or her a bit nervous. By calming the child you also help to slow the heart so that the blood does not pump as briskly. Sit the child upright so that his or her head is higher than his heart. This reduces the pressure in the vessels of the nose. Then, tip the head forward so that the blood runs out of the nose instead of down the back of the throat. Finally, pinch the lower part of thenose between your forefinger and thumb, and firmly compress both sides of the nose together. Repeat the procedure if, after five minutes of pinching the nose, the bleeding does not stop. Consult a physician if the bleeding does not stop after 20 minutes.
Even after the nosebleed has stopped, your child will still have a scab in the nose. To prevent the sore from bleeding again lubricate the nasal membranes with Vaseline, use mild nose drops if the nose is congested, and turn the air conditioning down so that the room isn't so dry.
Q: AS I grow older and put on a little more weight, I seem to be getting more varicose veins on my legs. What are they caused by? Is it possible to remove them? Dr Rose writes: Varicose veins are caused when the valves in the vein, which prevent blood from draining back down the leg, become defective. This causes blood to pool in the superficial veins which then become distorted and dilated. They are common in pregnancy and at menopause and in persons who are obese or who have congestive heart failure. Varicose veins affect about 15 per cent of adults, occurring more frequently in women.
The veins are usually blue and swollen. Although some people experience no symptoms, many have a severe ache in the affected area, swollen feet and ankles and itchy skin. The discomfort may be exacerbated by prolonged standing.
Wearing elastic support stockings and sitting with your feet up may alleviate the symptoms. In more severe cases, sufferers may require sclerotherapy, the injection of an irritant solution into the veins. This causes the veins to scar and their work is then taken over by healthier veins.
Vein stripping is another method used to remove varicose veins. The surgery is usually successful although varicose veins may subsequently develop on other parts of the leg. Dr Rose Ong is a certified family physician licensed in the United States. She welcomes enquiries but cannot answer them individually. Specific questions should be addressed to your own physician. Additional enquiries: Peak Corporate Health Management, 525-6600, fax 525-8100.