How did we conquer Herpangina?

Friday, June 29, 2018

So yes, life has heaps of curveballs. This we know. But a major one just bombed us whilst we were on the last leg of our recent roadtrip to Malaysia.

Never had i expect this to hit us. In all my 7years of being mom, i had always been pretty cautious and thankful that my children were not subjected to this evil disease.

Photo credit: Google

In short, it is a variant of the dreaded Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD). With hfmd, the symptoms are a lot clearer. For starters, an obvious indication would be the bumps which will blister on the hand, foot, mouth and sometimes groin area. While it may not be the case all the time, this symptom normally surface 3-6 days after incubation of the virus. The viruses that cause HFMD are spread through close personal contact, through the air from coughing, and the feces of an infected person. Contaminated objects can also spread the disease. Coxsackievirus A16 is the most common cause and Enterovirus 71 is the second-most common cause. There are no medication or vaccination for this. Simple pain medication such as ibuprofen or numbing mouth gel may be used but that’s as much as the doctor can do. In our case, the doctor did prescribe some antibiotics for the kids.

So ok, back to Herpangina. It is caused by the same virus but it only attacks the mouth. Symptoms include sudden fever with sore throat. We experienced this firstly with Big K who for no apparant reason, developed a fever on the 5th day of our trip. I spammed her big time with my Peppermint and Young Living thieves essential oil and she recovered the very next day. So i thought all was well and we went on to have fun. But come meal time, the would complain of lethargy and getting her to eat was a pain. 

Two days later, part two happened. Whilst we were at a theme park in Ipoh, we suddenly felt that Small K was not perspiring as usual. He usually would be drenched in perspiration under such excruciating heat but he did not. We feared dehydration and got him to drink lots of water. After a few rides, we sat down in an air conditioned cafe for a break. He was running about merrily when all of a sudden, i heard a loud wail. He hit his head and fell to the ground. At first i thought nothing of it as kids running and banging into stuff is perfectly normal. Plus, he was crying to loudly. I went to pick him up and gave him a pat. I tried to console him but he was arching back in a limp manner. Finally when he managed to hold back his tears, i fed him some water. Then, the scariest thing happened! As i lifted him over my shoulder, i saw what seemed like white foam coming out of his mouth and nose! I became hysterical as his eyes seemed to be flipping white. You know, 翻白眼. He had an episode of febrile fits (read here) before and I was tremendously fearful that history would repeat itself. I calmed myself down and tried to sit him up as he vomitted more. Only then i realised it was vomit and not foam. At that point in time, the husband and Big K were at another part of the cafe and cried as I might, no one came to my aid. A lady who was seated right next to us was oblivious and carried on listening to her earphones. I dialed for the hubs desperately whilst trying to keep my boy upright for fear that he would choke on his puke. He vomitted all over me. It was messy. Finally after what seemed like eternity, the hubs returned and calmed me down as I narrated the incident. We ruled out a concussion as vomiting spells should not be immediate. Just as we decided to zip back to the hotel for some medication, the cafe assistant asked if we needed the medic to come. Now then ask! But no, we didn’t go with a medic because Small K’s temperature immediately dropped after he vomitted. He was drowsy and though his temperature was a little lower, we decided to cut things short head back to the hotel where he napped for 2hrs! We were so worried because he hardly sleeps this long! Could it really have been a concussion? There were no clinics in the vicinity and to add oil to fuel, it was Hari Raya so all shops were closed! The reception at the hotel was not conversant in English and I couldn’t even manage a wee bit of Malay. Thankfully my medicine lasted till the next two days when the pharmacy opened. By then Small K’s fever had subsided and he was pretty much back to his old self. Or so we thought. He wasn’t a champ at the dining table and complained of ulcers. We dismissed it as being heaty and thought no more. 

The following day, we went as planned and drove up hill. Up to Cameron Highlands. It was then that it occurred to me that I should give their throat a check again. I did. And this time, i found numerous ulcers at the back of their throats and under their tongue. I was still in disbelief as I did not see any blisters. Shouldn’t the package come with blisters? Nope. Apparently not for Herpangina. The incubation period for Herpangina is usually 4days. So counting back, we probably caught it on our first day in Malaysia. The entire duration from incubation till recovery is from one to two weeks. It is contagious and we didn’t want others to be harmed, hence we stayed pretty much in the room. Well meaning friends were urging me to head home but the trip back with two sick kids and a sick mother would prove to be challenging. The rooms had been paid for in anycase plus there are no medication for Herpangina, so I thought why not just stay and enjoy the cold air plus room service. Going back home would mean I have to be a slave and I was certainly in no condition to be one. In fact, i had it worst. I had all the symptoms. Bad throat, fever, bodyaches and a tremendous headache which caused me to vomit.

My usually cheery little boy could not smile or talk. He could only whine. Every 5 seconds!

Well, while there aren't any known cures at the moment, it does help if you ensure that they constantly sanitize their hands, gurgle with mouthwash and drinks lots of water although we all know how painful that is. The below are some other things we did to help speed up the recovery:

Ling Yan (Antelope's Horn)

This is a traditional concoction and the ingredients are found at most Chinese Medical Hall. Everything is packed nicely so you don't have to figure out what's what. Just pour one cup of water to it all and have it double boiled. It is typically used to cure high fevers, but an old granny told me that it is good for HFMD too so it was worth a try. It is extremely cooling for the body, hence I got both kids to share one cup. 

This was the double boiler I used. Cute right? Perfect size when I have to brew just one cup of anything. The boy hated the taste but to mask the bitterness, I added winter melon strips as well as some rock sugar. 


FRUITS! lots of them! To provide them with the necessary Vitamin Cs to boost their immunity and to heal!. We received a shitload of organic Avocados and papayas from our friend who owns a farm up on Cameron Highlands. Wonder when are we gonna finish eating those Avocados!

Essential Oils

These were the oils which I used diligently on both Ks. It was a must especially for Young Living's Thieves which has anti-viral properties. I applied them on their soles periodically and diffused it around the house. Copaiba was applied to their throats to aid healing. ImmuPower is a powerful blend of therapeutic-grade essential oils that create a fragrant and protective haven while increasing positive energy. It provides healthy immune system support. A must-use during this period.

Green & White carrot (daikon) Soup

This soup is known for its detoxing properties and that is exactly what we all needed. It's really a simple soup to boil. Just add in approximately 300g of pork ribs and 5 pieces of dried scallops to 2 litres of water, bring it to a boil and add in the sliced carrots. I try to avoid adding red carrots as what some recipes call for as a TCM physician once mentioned that it will cancel out the effects of the daikon. This soup has a strange smell. Kindof like a fart so when I was boiling it, Small K actually asked me who farted. haha

Green Bean Soup

Another good one for detoxing the body. Remember to add those sago. Chill it and have the patient to drink. Though I'm not an advocate of cold stuff especially for kids, it goes easier on the throat and make them more willing to eat. 

China Barley

Barley. Not any kindof barley, but the China type. I think it is because it's more cooling? Some believe that these ulcers sprout out because of heatiness. While scientifically we know it isnt, it doesn't harm by taking some of these to aid the mend. Once again, you can find them conveniently packed and sold at the local medical halls. Just add water and boil for approximately an hour. 

Soupy but nutritious food

Mee sua soup which is easier to swallow. Even if they don't eat, try to ensure that the stock has heaps of nutrients by adding corn, carrots, ikan billis and meat. 

It was a nightmare feeding them during our trip. Especially Small K who didn't quite understood the repercussions of not eating and drinking. At one point in time, he only ate 3 slices of fishcakes! I wanted to cook for him so badly! Once back home, I whipped up whatever I could find in the fridge and he tried eating a little more. He even complimented my cooking. Awww this little one is so good with his words. Try cooking porridge but remember to sneak in those nutrients. I added in wolfberries and threadfin as well as dried scallop which made it extra tasty. Even Big K who hates porridge ate a full bowl. I made them egg mayo sandwich though it didn't sound like an easy thing to eat. But it was their favourite and hence, they braved the pain and gobbled down 3 slices! Yup, cook their favourites, that would certainly help!

After 2 weeks of tender loving care, the both of them have finally recovered. My cheeky little monkey is back with his antics, frustrating me every 5 seconds. But I wouldn't have it any other way!

Stay Safe, folks!