For parents, trying to determine whether to take a child who is experiencing the signs of a cold to the doctor can be a regular occurrence. From runny noses to ear infections, kids can pass illnesses back and forth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children have about two to nine illnesses per year, nearly double the number of colds adolescents and adults experience during the same timeframe.
But when are those coughs and stuffed noses more than just a routine cold, and at what point do parents need to pay extra attention and take their children to the doctor? Knowing how to recognize when your children need medical attention can help keep them healthy and prevent stressful emergency trips to the doctor or hospital.
While many parents will call their doctor if their child has a fever, it is important to recognize that a fever is not the only sign of an illness that needs immediate medical attention. Other symptoms can include difficulty breathing, vomiting, excessive irritability, lack of appetite, severe headache and refusal to eat or drink.
Parents should also be mindful of rare and serious diseases. One such condition is primary immunodeficiency (PI). PI is a group of more than 150 disorders, genetic in nature, that affect the cells, tissues and organs of the immune system. For the estimated 10 million people worldwide who are living with PI, the immune system is either deficient or functioning inadequately, leaving them with greater susceptibility to infection.
A Family’s Journey to a Proper Diagnosis
Eric Nixon has three children who have been diagnosed with PI. His oldest son experienced many of the signs and symptoms of primary immunodeficiency for more than a decade before receiving an accurate diagnosis at age 11.
"For the first 11 years of my son’s life, we went from specialist to specialist with ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia and other illnesses that would keep coming back," said Nixon. "We were often told he only had a cold and we were being too cautious, but we knew typical children should not be this sick this often. Eventually we visited an immunologist who diagnosed him with primary immunodeficiency. Since then, my other children were tested and also diagnosed with the same condition."
With his children constantly ill, Nixon and his family had to schedule their lives around the many doctor and specialist appointments. These visits, combined with the kids’ recurrent illnesses, meant that the family was unable to go on vacations, and the children would frequently miss school, birthday parties and other childhood activities.
Finding an Appropriate Treatment
In 2010, all three children transitioned to a new, innovative subcutaneous (i.e., under the skin) immunoglobulin (SCIg) called Hizentra®, (Immune Globulin Subcutaneous [Human], 20% Liquid). Hizentra, developed by CSL Behring, is the first and only 20 percent SCIg indicated for the treatment of primary humoral immunodeficiency. Because Hizentra can be stored at room temperature for its 30-month shelf life, Nixon’s children are able to administer their therapy at home or on the road and are not limited to a doctor’s office.
"We can fit Hizentra around our schedules, which helps my children lead more typical, active lives," Nixon added. "Because the product is portable and convenient, we can now go on family vacations and my kids don’t have to miss activities with their friends because of their treatment schedule."
Trusting a Parent’s Instinct
In 2010, The Lancet published a study that a parent’s instinct regarding their child’s health is usually spot on. Nixon couldn’t agree more. "Doctors accused us of being overcautious, but we knew something was wrong and are glad we followed our instinct." In addition to following their gut, parents should call their child’s doctor if symptoms worsen, even if the kids have recently seen the physician, or if their child is frequently ill.
For more information about PI, visit www.cslbehring.com or for more information about Hizentra, including full prescribing information, visit www.Hizentra.com.
Important Safety Information
Immune Globulin Subcutaneous (Human), Hizentra®, is indicated for the treatment of various forms of primary immunodeficiency (PI).
If you have a history of anaphylactic or severe systemic response to immune globulin preparations or selective immunoglobulin A deficiency, check with your physician, as Hizentra should not be used.
Hizentra is to be infused under your skin only; do not inject into a blood vessel.
Hypersensitivity reactions may occur with Hizentra. If your physician suspects you are having a negative reaction or are going into shock, treatment will be discontinued. Because Hizentra contains proline, you cannot be treated with Hizentra if you have hyperprolinemia (a high level of proline in your blood).
Hizentra is derived from human plasma. The risk of transmission of infectious agents, including viruses and, theoretically, the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) agent, cannot be completely eliminated.
The most common drug-related adverse reactions (seen in 5% or more of subjects in the clinical trial) were local reactions (swelling, redness, heat, pain, and itching at the injection site), headache, vomiting, pain, and fatigue.
Your physician will monitor for potentially serious reactions associated with intravenous immunoglobulin treatment that might also occur with Hizentra, including renal dysfunction/failure, osmotic nephropathy, thrombotic events, aseptic meningitis syndrome (AMS), hemolysis, and transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI).
Ig administration may impair the effect of virus vaccines, such as measles, mumps and rubella. Before getting any vaccination, inform your doctor that you are using Hizentra.
For full prescribing information, visit www.hizentra.com/consumer/prescribing-information.aspx.
You are encouraged to report negative effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.