Your child just woke up with a runny nose, an elevated temperature and body aches. Could this just be a passing cold or could it be the flu? It’s important to be able to tell the difference between the two. A common cold is usually mild and will go away on its own without treatment but the flu often requires medical attention to prevent serious complications. While an annual flu shot can protect your child from developing the flu it’s also important to know what to look for and when to visit their pediatrician for care.
Warning Signs of the Flu
Unfortunately the common cold and the influenza viruses have a lot of the same symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine what your child might have. We know that you don’t want to worry unnecessarily and rush them into the office if you don’t need to but it’s also good to know when their condition warrants medical attention.
One difference is that a cold will come on gradually over the course of a couple of days while the flu will often attack suddenly, with symptoms showing up practically overnight. While a fever isn’t a common symptom of a cold a fever is almost always present with the flu, as well as full body achiness or weakness.
Children are also more likely to deal with diarrhea or vomiting with the flu. While symptoms of a cold are usually localized to the head, flu symptoms are more widespread.
You Suspect Your Child has the Flu. Now What?
The first step is to call your pediatrician. While it can take up to a week for your child to feel better after the flu sometimes medical attention is required. It’s especially important that you talk to your doctor if your child has flu-like symptoms and they are under the age of 5, as young children are more likely to deal with health-related complications from the flu.
You’ve talked to your doctor and you now know whether you are supposed to bring them in right away for care or whether you should continue to monitor their condition before bringing them in. At this point the most important thing you can do is help reduce their discomfort and control their symptoms. Make sure they are staying hydrated and getting as much rest as possible.
Avoid giving your child over-the-counter medications, as many of these medications aren’t safe for young children and won’t be effective for treating flu symptoms. If your child has a mild fever ask your pediatrician what over-the-counter medications could help alleviate their fever. Keep in mind: Children should never take aspirin!
The sooner you seek medical attention for the flu the better, as many antiviral medications can prevent the virus from getting worse if it’s administered within the first 48 hours. This medication is often taken for 5 to 7 days and it can help ease symptoms and speed up recovery.
The key is making sure to get your child proper medical care as soon as flu-like symptoms appear. Call your children’s doctor right away.
Why Proper Nutrition is Important
As a parent, it goes without saying that you want what is best for your child. Making sure that your little ones grow up healthy, happy, and prepared for the future is often one of the most difficult, yet regarding, tasks in all of parenthood. This all-important mission to provide a great life for your child encompasses a number of different factors, including one which is the subject of this article: nutrition.
According to recent reports from the CDC, one in five school children within the United States qualify as obese. This epidemic of unhealthy living inevitably creates a number of ill effects in the children who suffer from the condition. Read on to learn how proper nutrition can keep your child at a healthy weight and avoid the consequences of obesity.
Why Obesity Must Be Avoided
Before we examine the intricacies of proper nutrition, it is important that we look at why being overweight/obese is to be avoided:
- Onset of chronic diseases: Although they are more often diagnosed in adults, conditions such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes have been increasingly seen in younger children, largely because of poor eating habits.
- Childhood habits traverse into adulthood: Humans tend to be creatures of habit, and accordingly, we largely carry childhood tendencies into our adult lives. For this reason, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the National Institute for Health Research has found that “55% of obese children go on to be obese in adolescence, around 80% of obese adolescents will still be obese in adulthood and around 70% will be obese over age 30.”
- Obesity shortens life: The National Institute of Health has found that obesity has the possibility of shortening life spans by up to fourteen years, and with the established link between childhood and adulthood obesity, it’s essential to promote healthy
Other Benefits of Proper Nutrition
The most obvious benefit of providing proper nutrition for your child is that they are then much more likely to maintain a healthy weight, and thus avoid all of the dangers associated with obesity. In addition to escaping the clutches of type 2 diabetes and a shortened life expectancy, your little one will also feel the immediate advantage of higher physical energy levels and increased brain activity. These boosts to your child’s wellbeing can be attributed to an increased bloodflow throughout the body, allowing them to not only stay healthier, but feel happier as well!
If you need help with getting your child on the path of proper nutrition, contact your local pediatrician today—we’re here to help!
Does your child struggle with asthma symptoms? Houston, TX, pediatricians Drs. Heena Thakkar and Shilpa Pankaj can help you manage your child's condition and decrease flareups.
What is asthma?
Asthma symptoms occur when the small airways in your child's lungs become inflamed and swollen, reducing airflow to the lungs. Breathing becomes even harder when the muscles around the airways begin to tighten, or the airways fill with mucus caused by inflammation. More than 6 million kids in the U.S. under 18 have asthma, according to the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America.
Does my child have asthma?
Wheezing is a common sign of asthma, but it's not the only one. Other asthma signs and symptoms include:
- Coughing: Children who have asthma may cough even if they don't have a cold or illness. Coughing can increase with exertion or when your child laughs or cries.
- Fatigue: Does your child tire easily? Asthma may be to blame.
- Shortness of Breath: Shortness of breath may occur if your child can't breathe in enough air due to narrowing and inflammation of his or her airways.
- Chest Pain: Kids who have asthma may complain that their chests hurt.
- Rapid Breathing: If the airways become severely constricted, your child may begin to breathe rapidly or even look blue. Take him or her to the emergency room immediately if you notice these symptoms.
How can my pediatrician help?
Your child's Houston pediatrician can offer treatments and suggestions that will help you manage your child's respiratory disease. She may recommend daily maintenance medication that helps reduce or prevent asthma flareups. The medication may be offered in pill or inhaled form. Your child may also need a rescue inhaler. The inhalers offer quick relief of symptoms when a flareup does occur. Allergy testing may be recommended if the pediatrician suspects that flareups may be triggered by allergies.
A few modifications around your home can also be helpful. Your child's doctor may recommend several changes, such as using foam rather than down or feather pillows, vacuuming, and mopping floors regularly to reduce dust and allergens, and improving indoor air quality with air-conditioners and HEPA filters.
Preventive care is essential if your child has asthma. Call Houston, TX, pediatricians Drs. Heena Thakkar and Shilpa Pankaj at (713) 861-4800 to schedule an appointment for your son or daughter.
- You or your child hears a snap or grinding noise as the injury occurs
- Your child experiences swelling, bruising or tenderness to the injured area
- It is painful for your child to move it, touch it or press on it
- The injured part looks deformed
What Happens Next?
- Call 911 - If your child has an 'open break' where the bone has punctured the skin, if they are unresponsive, if there is bleeding or if there have been any injuries to the spine, neck or head, call 911. Remember, better safe than sorry! If you do call 911, do not let the child eat or drink anything, as surgery may be required.
- Stop the Bleeding - Use a sterile bandage or cloth and compression to stop or slow any bleeding.
- Apply Ice - Particularly if the broken bone has remained under the skin, treat the swelling and pain with ice wrapped in a towel. As usual, remember to never place ice directly on the skin.
- Don't Move the Bone - It may be tempting to try to set the bone yourself to put your child out of pain, particularly if the bone has broken through the skin, do not do this! You risk injuring your child further. Leave the bone in the position it is in.
At some point in our childhood, we might have experienced chicken pox. While chicken pox most often occurs in children under the age of 12, it can also occur in adults who never had it as children.
Chickenpox is an itchy rash of spots that look like blisters and can appear all over the body while accompanied by flu-like symptoms. Chickenpox is very contagious, which is why your pediatrician in places a strong emphasis on keeping infected children out of school and at home until the rash is gone.
What are the Symptoms of Chickenpox?
When a child first develops chickenpox, they might experience a fever, headache, sore throat or stomachache. These symptoms may last for a few days, with a fever in the 101-102 F range. The onset of chicken pox causes a red, itchy skin rash that typically appears on the abdomen or back and face first, then spreads to almost any part of the body, including the scalp, mouth, arms, legs and genitals.
The rash begins as multiple small red bumps that look like pimples or insect bites, which are usually less than a quarter of an inch wide. These bumps appear in over two to four days and develop into thin-walled blisters filled with fluid. When the blister walls break, the sores are left open, which then dries into brown scabs. This rash is extremely itchy and cool baths or calamine lotion may help to manage the itching.
What are the Treatment Options?
A virus causes chickenpox, which is why your pediatrician in will not prescribe an antibiotic to treat it. However, your child might need an antibiotic if bacteria infects the sores, which is very common among children because they will often scratch and pick at the blisters—it is important to discourage this. Your child’s pediatrician in will be able to tell you if a medication is right for your child.
If you suspect your child has chickenpox, contact your pediatrician right away!
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