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  • Bukol o Kulani? 5 Types of Bukol And Red Flags To Watch For

    A simple bump on the head could be a simple swelling or a symptom of something more serious.
    by Ina Atutubo, MD .
Bukol o Kulani? 5 Types of Bukol And Red Flags To Watch For
  • Kung gusto mong basahin ang nakasulat dito sa Tagalog, mag-click lamang dito.

    A bukol, or tumor, simply means swelling. In the olden times, when Latin was still the language used in medicine, tumor was one of the four classical signs of inflammation: calor (heat), dolor (pain), rubor (redness) and tumor (swelling).

    In modern times, bukol has come to be a general term for any growth on any part of the body that forms a solid mass. In our native tongue, a bukol is anything on the skin or inside the body that forms a solid mass of any size, which may or may not cause symptoms. The definition is both vague and variable, depending on the usage.

    Bukol — Swelling

    For example, bukol as a swelling on the head after a mild injury or untog consists mostly of edematous fluid which collects under the scalp. It is usually accompanied by pain, redness and warmth, the classic signs of inflammation. A simple remedy is applying an ice pack on top of the bukol to reduce the pain and swelling. This is different from a manas, though, which is also a collection of edematous fluid, but in the soft tissue parts of the body like the foot, or even around the eyes.


    Important! After any head injury, watch out for these red flags in your child: loss of consciousness, grogginess, and vomiting. If you notice any of these, please bring your child to the nearest emergency room immediately for evaluation.

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    Bukol — Kulani (swelling of lymph nodes)

    Another use of the word bukol is when there are palpable small nodules, usually under the neck or in the armpits or groin area (singit). These nodules are your lymph nodes, and may be felt using the fingertips. When the swelling is accompanied by pain, or fever, it usually indicates an infection of the lymph nodes. Sometimes dental carries (cavities) may also cause a bukol in the neck area, and so can primary infection, a common infection that is actually tuberculosis in the young child.

    A bukol in the neck area, or a kulani, is usually discovered by your doctor, and the diagnosis is made if the kulani is accompanied by cough, low- to moderate-grade fever in the afternoons, night sweats, poor appetite, weight loss, an X-ray finding compatible with tuberculosis and/or a positive purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test. Consult your pediatrician for advice on primary infection if you suspect your young one to have a bukol on the neck area.

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    Bukol – Infection (abscess)

    A bukol could also mean there is a bacterial infection, like an abscess. Usually this starts as an insect bite which has been scratched and developed into a secondary bacterial infection. This is now known as pigsaor boil. Usually this is accompanied by a large area of redness surrounding the swelling, as well as pain. There could also be fever. Pus (nana) usually collects inside this swelling, which after some time, may spontaneously burst. Depending on the site of the infection, there could also be limitation of movement; for example, if the affected area is the buttocks, it may be difficult for your child to sit. If the affected area is around the eye, the eyelid may not be able to open properly. For any suspected infection, bring your child to your doctor for proper medication.

    Important! DO NOT rub anything on the pigsa, like garlic or bayabas leaves, because these might worsen the infection.


    Bukol – Infection (mumps or beke)

    Another type of infection which may cause a swelling is mumps. This is caused by the mumps virus and causes inflammation of the parotid gland. This gland is located at the cheek area near the jaw, which is the characteristic location of the bukol caused by mumps.

    There is no cure for mumps, but the symptoms can be treated at home with paracetamol for the fever and pain, fluids for rehydration, and rest. Mumps are highly contagious, meaning, if one member of the family catches it, it is very likely that the whole household will get it. The best way to prevent this is to get vaccinated. The mumps vaccine is part of the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) combination vaccine the first dose usually given to babies around 12 to 15 months old. If you suspect your child to have mumps, bring your child to your pediatrician for a check-up.

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    Bukol – Cancer

    The most serious and the most dreaded form of the bukol is when it pertains to the big C, cancer. This happens when there is a problem with the dividing of cells in the body. Our cells divide or regenerate to replace older ones. Old or damaged cells need to die to make room for the new cells. Normally, this process of dying and regeneration is strictly controlled; however, if there is a disturbance in this process, a tumor may form.

    Cancer cells grow out of control, develop abnormal sizes and shapes, ignore their typical boundaries inside the body, destroy their neighbor cells, and ultimately can spread (or metastasize) to other organs and tissues. It may happen as part of a genetic abnormality, as in congenital tumors, or it may happen after abuse of one’s self, as in lung cancer. A lot of other factors can cause cancer, like toxins, radiation, obesity, alcohol and smoking, but these are more common among adults.


    For children, the causes of cancers are still largely unknown and are usually related to genetics. Since childhood cancers occur sporadically, it is very difficult to predict, and even more difficult to prevent. However, your doctor may be able to catch subtle signs of cancer with your regular check-up. Once cancer is diagnosed, it is crucial for the family to get medical help. Treatments may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and a change in the child’s diet.

    There are several interpretations to what a bukol is. It can be caused by dozens of things like your genes, accidents, the environment, the food we eat, the infections that can harm us, daily hygiene, radiation, obesity, smoking, alcohol, and even sunlight. The important thing is to be very observant for any changes in your child’s body. If there is any doubt, it is still best to consult your pediatrician for much needed advice and peace of mind.

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