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The Patient's Guide to ...
JUVENILE ARTHRITIS
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What is Juvenile Arthritis?

Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body produces antibodies that attack the cells of individuals under the age of 16, which can cause permanent damage. Approximately 300,000 children are affected by this each year.  There is no cure for this condition, although there are ways to stop the process and induce permanent remission.  There are no current treatments that can cannot undo the damage already done to the joints and internal organs.

 

Symptoms include:

  • Joint pains

  • Stiffness in movements

  • High fever

  • Rash

  • Lethargy

  • Difficulty with physical activities

  • Loss of appetite

  • Swelling

 

The most common types of this malady are:

Juvenile Myositis: Disease that inflames and weakens muscles, making it painful to move.

 

Juvenile Lupus: Affects the joints as well as internal organs; heart, lungs, kidneys, skin, and joints.

 

Juvenile Scleroderma: The body produces too much collagen and causes the skin to thicken and harden in patches.

 

Diagnosis

Juvenile arthritis can be diagnosed upon physical examination, as well as through multiple laboratory tests by taking urine, blood to check cell count (platelets, red, white), and fluid from tissues and joints. X-rays help rule out bone damage as well as the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to check the joints and surrounding tissues through vivid imaging.

 

Treatments

Upon diagnosis, there are ways to halt the disease from causing further impairment of the joints and organs through certain techniques and remedies. Physical movement and therapies are one of the most important ways to reduce the effects of this condition, essentially warming the joints to allow movement. Some other ways include:

 

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS) – Medications that remediate or suppress the underlying causes of a disease and reduces inflammation.

 

Corticosteroids – Steroids that are usually in the form of an injection put into a single affected joint but can also be taken orally as a pill.

 

Health conscience eating – Children who have this condition have a very poor diet either gaining or losing too much body mass, it is important to feed them a healthy diet to aid in maintaining a normal weight.

CLEFT LIP AND CLEFT PALATE
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What is Cleft Lip?

This is a genetic birth defect that splits the upper lip or roof of the mouth either unilateral (1 gap) or bilateral (2 gaps). The division can form in the bone located in the front of the mouth of the soft tissue by the uvula. This defect happens when the structure of the face and its tissues do not fuse together properly during pregnancy. This condition is usually identifiable after birth, ultrasounds can help identify a cleft, but it is usually more difficult to see until about three months into pregnancy.

 

Symptoms of cleft:

  • Curved or missing teeth

  • Teeth and jaw are misaligned

  • Maxilla (one of the primary bones of the face) is not developed correctly

  • Difficulty of speech

  • The skin of the lip or structure of the palate causes a physical gap and extends from the nose and the upper gum/jaw

  • Consistent ear infections caused by a buildup of fluid behind the eardrum

  • Oronasal fistula (an opening that separates the nasal and oral cavity)

 

Causes for this defect can be associated with other conditions or syndromes passed down through hereditament. Other factors during pregnancy that are included can be lack of folic acid (vitamin deficiency), obesity, and smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol.

 

Treatments that come with this condition:

One or multiple facial reconstruction surgeries that can take place from birth up until the teen years.

 

Cleft Lip: 10 weeks – 1 year where both sides of the lip are taken and used to widen and close the opening

 

Cleft Palate: 6-18 months which connects the tissues and muscles 

 

  • Speech pathology (the treatment of speech or language issues)

  • Dental care to monitor if the teeth shift after surgery

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Emily Conenna is a senior at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania with a major in Public Relations and a minor in Professional Writing. She has devoted much volunteer time to raising awareness about Cystic Fibrosis and other major diseases through her writing and social media work. Emily is the editor of the Patient Guide series.

July 2022 page 3