A common condition seen in kids and teens, asthma is a lung condition that causes trouble breathing and shortness of breath. During an attack, the bronchial airways become inflamed and the muscles surrounding them constrict, making breathing difficult. Repeated attacks may cause permanent lung damage and in severe cases can be life-threatening. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 23 million Americans have the condition and more than one-quarter of them are children under the age of 18.
There are a variety of triggers that can lead to an asthma flare-up or make asthma worse. These vary for every person, but common triggers include:
- Allergens, such as animal dander, pollens, mold and house dust mites
- Environmental irritants, such as cigarettes, dry air, fragrances and air pollution
- Infections, such as pneumonia, sinus infection and viral infections of the nose and throat
Does my child have asthma?
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, asthma is the most common chronic medical problem in children. Asthma symptoms will vary in frequency and severity, and most children with asthma develop their first symptoms before the age of five. Common signs include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in chest
If you think your child may have asthma, contact your pediatrician. They can help you identify the early signs of childhood asthma and provide support for prevention and treatment.
A child may be at a greater risk for having asthma if there is a family history of asthma or if the child has eczema or frequent bouts of chronic lower respiratory problems occurring before the first birthday. Keeping your kids away from cigarette smoke in the home or car, removing pets from the house, paying attention to pollen and air quality forecasts and monitoring exercise are all ways to reduce asthma problems.
The good news is that the majority of asthma cases are only mild, and when the condition is properly managed with medications and extra caution, severe asthma flare-ups can be prevented. Work with your child’s pediatrician to learn more about the condition and ensure your child leads a healthy, normal, active life.
As children grow into adolescence, their bodies require more nutrients to grow healthy and strong. But as many parents know, for those teens with busy school schedules, sports practices and jobs, managing a healthy, well-balanced meal plan isn’t always at the top of their priority list. In many cases, a teen’s most important meals are eaten in the car or on the bus as they shuffle from one activity to the next.
Parents can play a very important role in influencing their teen to stay active while maintaining a healthy diet. These tips can help:
- Encourage your teen to not skip meals, especially breakfast. A well-balanced breakfast is essential to keeping your son or daughter nourished throughout the day.
- Educate your teen about healthy snack choices. Stock your refrigerator and cabinets with healthy foods and snacks, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and lean meats and poultry. Avoid buying sodas and other sugary drinks and foods that are low in nutritional value.
- Involve your teen in the selection and preparation of foods to teach them to make healthy choices.
- Teach your teen how to make healthy selections when eating out at restaurants.
How many servings per day your teenager requires will depend on how many calories his or her body needs. This is based on age, sex, size and activity level. You can discuss your teen’s nutritional habits and recommended daily intake with your teen's pediatrician.
Although balancing school, sports and social activities may present challenges to eating healthy, it is possible to guide your teen on a path of nutritional food choices. Educate them now and promote healthy eating at home to help your teen develop a good understanding of proper nutrition into adulthood. The whole family can benefit from improved eating habits starting at home.
A new baby needs a lot of things. From bottles and car seats to high chairs and baby monitors, an expectant parent has a lot of decisions and purchases to make before baby’s arrival. Considering your baby will spend a great deal of time here, a crib is one of the most important things a parent will buy.
Whether you’re shopping for a brand new crib or receiving a hand-me-down from a relative or friend, remember to evaluate your baby’s resting place carefully to ensure it meets all of the safety guidelines. You can visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for information regarding all of these important safety standards.
There are many types of cribs available today, and parents will want to be educated about safety features and guidelines before choosing one for their baby. Here are a few helpful tips from the AAP:
- Make sure the crib meets current safety standards before purchasing it. As of June 28, 2011, new federal safety standards prohibit the manufacture or sale of drop-side rail cribs. The standards also require stronger hardware and increased durability.
- If you have a crib that was manufactured before the new safety standards were enacted, contact the manufacturer to see if they offer hardware to keep the drop side from being raised or lowered. Consider buying a new crib that meets the stronger standards, if possible.
- Read and follow the directions carefully for setting up, using and caring for the crib.
- Regularly inspect your crib’s screws and hardware, and tighten them as necessary.
- The mattress should fit snugly in the crib to prevent the baby from slipping between the mattress and the crib sides. As a general rule, no more than two of your fingers should fit between the mattress and the side of the crib.
- Do not use the crib if there are any missing, damaged or broken parts, and never substitute original parts with pieces from a hardware store. Always contact the crib manufacturer for replacement materials.
- Be sure to inspect every crib your child uses—from grandma’s house to the day care center—for safety.
- Visit the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website to see if your crib has been recalled.
- The slats of the crib should be no more than 2 3⁄8 inches apart, as widely spaced slats can trap the infant.
- All surfaces of the crib should be covered with lead-free paint, and the wood should be smooth and free of splinters.
Remember, your baby will spend many hours in his or her crib. Take special care to ensure that your baby’s sleeping place offers very little opportunity for injuries and problems. You can learn more about crib safety standards, as well as safe bedding practices by visiting www.healthychildren.org and www.cpsc.gov, or by contacting your pediatrician for more information.
Fevers, body temperatures of 100.4 or higher, can be scary. Children usually look puny and tired when they have a fever. They don't act like themselves, and often they don't want to eat or drink. Fortunately, fevers themselves are not dangerous. We pay attention to fevers because they are often a sign of an infection. When the immune system detects an infection, it will raise the body's temperature to help it fight the infection better. Don't worry about a fever getting too high or causing brain damage; the body is not going to cause a temperature that will injure itself. How high a fever gets matters less than how your child is doing otherwise. Is she drinking OK and staying hydrated? Is he breathing OK? Is she responding to your appropriately?
If your child is a newborn, unvaccinated or immunocompromised, they are at a higher risk of serious infection and you should call your doctor if they develop a fever. Otherwise, if your child is healthy, up-to-date on their shots, and over 6 months old, you can reduce the fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) and watch them at home for a few days. Most fevers in this group are caused by viruses that have to run their course and do not respond to antibiotics. Call your doctor or seek care right away if your child is having difficulty breathing, dehydrated or not responding to you. Also, if your child develops a purple rash, she should see a doctor as soon as possible.
If a fever lasts for more than a few days, and especially 5 or more days, go ahead and make an appointment with your doctor to get your child checked. Sometimes, fevers are caused by ear infections or other infections that should be treated, such as urinary tract infections. Also, if you know that your child has been exposed to a specific illness such as influenza or strep throat, it is worthwhile getting your checked by your doctor, as these illnesses can be treated. When influenza is going around, try to see your doctor within 1-2 days of the onset of symptoms, as the anti-flu treatment should be started at the beginning of the illness to help the most.
We reduce fevers with acetaminophen or ibuprofen because children often feel much better when the fever goes down. Since these medicine do not treat the infection causing the fever, the fever will often return when these medicines wear off. If you have questions about dosing for acetaminophen or ibuprofen, check with your doctor's office. Dosing for acetaminophen and ibuprofen in children is based on weight, not age.
When your child has a fever, dress him comfortable in light clothing. Do not rub alcohol on him; rubbing alcohol on the skin does not help a fever and can harm your child when applied all over. Also, do not give your child an ice bath or cold bath, which will not help with a fever and will be uncomfortable. You can give your child a lukewarm bath, but this is unnecessary. Make sure that your child is drinking fluids. Offer water, popsicles, juice, broth, milk, or oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte. I usually advise against juice, but when your child is sick, it is okay to give her whatever she will drink! Avoid beverages that contain caffeine, which cause your child to urinate more and increase the risk of dehydration.
Remember that these are general guidelines about fevers that apply to healthy children. Always check with your doctor for any specific recommendations for your child, based on his or her health needs!
Helping children stay healthy and happy is the top priority for the team at Pediatric Associates of Davidson County in Nashville, TN. Kids need special attention, care, and treatments because they are still developing and growing. One of the health-related issues that need to be addressed for young people is getting them immunized. Find out why immunizations are important and when you and your child should see your pediatrician.
Immunizations for Children
Diseases spread more easily among school-aged children because they are required to be in enclosed spaces with each other for long periods of time each day. Germs constantly circulate through schools, on surfaces, in the air, and through contact when kids are playing. For this reason, pediatricians, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend immunizations for young children. The first immunizations are given shortly after birth and continue up until the age of 18.
Why They’re Important
Children are not as aware as adults of the presence of germs in their environment. Because of this, they are more prone to catching and spreading bacteria and viruses to others around them. Some health concerns are relatively minor, like the common cold, but others can be life-threatening like the measles, meningitis, and poliovirus. The CDC estimates that vaccinations will prevent over 700,000 deaths.
Commonly Suggested Immunizations
The pediatricians at Pediatric Associates of Davidson County in Nashville, TN can help you stay up to date with immunizations. Here is a short list of some of the most common immunizations that are strongly recommended for children:
- HepB and HepA
- Flu shots
- Tetanus shots
- Meningococcal vaccine (to prevent meningitis infections)
- MMR (to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella)
- HPV vaccine for children ages 11-12
Schedule Your Child’s Immunizations Today
Even if you haven’t been keeping up to date with your child’s recommended immunizations, a pediatrician at Pediatric Associates of Davidson County can help you get back on track. Call the Nashville, TN office at (615) 329-3595 to set up your next appointment.
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