Posts for category: Pediatric Health Care
A number of factors can cause a child to develop a headache, such as stress, lack of sleep, skipped meals and certain medications. Other times a child may suffer from a headache due to a common illness or infection, such as a cold or flu. And in serious cases, head trauma or an underlying condition such as meningitis could be causing the child’s headache. That’s why it’s important for parents to pay close attention to their child’s headache patterns.
Although it’s easy for parents to worry, most headaches in children are rarely a sign of something serious. However, parents should contact their child’s pediatrician if the child has unexplained or recurring headaches over a short period of time or on a regular basis.
Parents should also notify their pediatrician if the child’s headache is accompanied by one or any combination of these symptoms:
- Double vision, weakness in a limb or loss of balance
- Disabling pain that does not improve with over-the-counter pain medication
- Interrupted sleep
- Decreased level of alertness
- Change in personality
To help pinpoint the causes of your child’s headaches, parents should keep a diary of their child’s symptoms. Track when headaches occur, how long they last, the severity of the headache and if anything provides relief. Over time, your notes can help you and your pediatrician understand the child’s symptoms to reach a diagnosis and proper treatment plan.
Your child’s pediatrician may also ask you a series of questions to determine the source of your child’s headaches:
- Do the headaches follow a pattern or do they change over time?
- Has your child recently suffered a serious injury?
- What seems to help or worsen headaches?
- Does your child take any medications or have any past medical issues?
- Does your child have allergies?
- Is there a history of headaches in your family?
In many cases, a child’s headache may be relieved at home with simple care. Over-the-counter pain medications, rest and avoiding those triggers that prompt headaches may be enough to ease the pain.
Remember, headaches are not always a symptom of something more serious. However, parents should be mindful of the types of headaches their child has and how frequently they occur. If you suspect something is wrong or not normal, always contact your pediatrician for an appointment.
Especially during the younger years, adequate food and nutrition is vital for a child’s growth and development. But for some children, a snack or meal as simple as a peanut butter sandwich or a cup of milk can cause serious health problems. So, what’s a parent to do when they suspect their child is allergic to a certain food?
A food allergy is the abnormal response of the immune system to a food. It’s possible to be allergic to any food, but these particular foods are responsible for the majority of allergies: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and peanuts. Food allergies should not be confused with food intolerance, or food sensitivity, which is more common and less severe.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction typically occur within just moments to an hour after the child ingests a food. They can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening, so it’s important for parents to understand what to do if they suspect their child is having an allergic reaction to food. Symptoms will vary for each child, but the most common telltale signs include:
- Trouble breathing
- Itching or swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth or throat
- Light-headedness or loss of consciousness
Food allergy symptoms often resemble other medical conditions, so always contact your pediatrician for a proper diagnosis. If you suspect your child has a food allergy, remove that particular food from your child’s diet immediately. If the allergic reaction is severe, seek medical care right away.
The good news is that food allergies are often outgrown during early childhood. Your pediatrician or allergist can perform tests to pinpoint and track your child's food allergies They can also work with you to modify and manage your child’s diet to ensure they are receiving adequate nutrition for growth and development without putting them at risk for additional allergic reactions.
It may seem like your teenager is ignoring you, but in reality, they may be having trouble hearing you. More and more we see kids listening to their MP3 players while doing homework, walking to school or riding in the car. The result? A surge in hearing loss.
For years, studies have shown that constant exposure to loud sound damages hearing. In fact, between the mid-1990s and 2006 there was a 31 percent increase in the prevalence of hearing problems among U.S. adolescents, according to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers suggest that one in every five teens today has some sort of hearing impairment.
Chronic exposure to loud noise may not cause hearing loss in the short term, but it can gradually result in irreversible hearing loss later in adult years. Even slight hearing loss can have a negative impact on a child’s academic success and social interaction. Warning signs of potential hearing loss include: difficulty following directions, asking that things be repeated, trouble with speech and language and listening to the TV at a high volume.
With the prevalence of music devices only gaining popularity, parents need to be particularly aware of their kids’ music-listening habits and educate them about the dangers of excessive noise.
To mitigate hearing loss, talk to your kids about how to use their music players properly to protect their ears from hearing damage.
- Teach kids to never play their music devices at full volume.
- Monitor your child’s music volume and frequency.
- If you can hear the music from the child’s ear buds, then the music is too loud.
- Explain to your child the importance of wearing ear protection when they are in an environment with loud noises for long periods of time, such as concerts.
The difficult truth about hearing loss is that in many cases it is not reversible, and it can even be progressive over time. Talk to your kids about the dangers of hearing loss now, and keep the volume and length of their listening to a minimum.
Whenever you have questions about your child’s hearing, talk to your pediatrician.
A hit to the head during a soccer game or a hard fall from skateboarding may result in a serious head injury and even a concussion. The American Academy of Pediatrics describes a concussion as any injury to the brain that disrupts normal brain function on a temporary or permanent basis. These injuries are typically caused by a blow to the head, most often occurring while playing contact sports such as football, hockey, soccer, wrestling or skateboarding.
For some children, concussions only last for a short while. Other times, a person can have symptoms of a concussion that last for several days or weeks following the injury. Not all symptoms of concussions will be obvious, and in some cases take several hours to set in. Look for these signs of a concussion if your child suffers a head injury:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Memory loss or confusion
- Poor concentration
- Vision problems
- Irritability or changes in mood
- Sensitivity to light or noise
Seek Medical Attention
If your child injures his head or you believe he may have a concussion, it is important that the child discontinues play immediately and visits a healthcare provider for an evaluation. All concussions are serious and should be monitored right away. A pediatrician can properly diagnose the concussion and its severity, and then make appropriate treatment recommendations.
Rest from all activities is the best treatment for concussions. Your pediatrician can make appropriate recommendations for when the child should return to future play. Recovery time depends on the child and the severity of the concussion.
Preventing Head Injuries
Not all head injuries can be avoided, but you can do a few important things to prevent them.
- Buckle Up. Make sure your child is properly buckled up in a seat belt, car seat or booster seat.
- Safety Gear. If your child plays sports, make sure he wears appropriate headgear and other safety equipment.
- Awareness. Children should be taught how to play safe and understand the importance of reporting any type of head injury to their parent or coach.
All head injuries should be taken seriously. Early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent serious complications. It’s never a bad idea to contact your pediatrician when you have questions or concerns about your child’s head injury.
With the arrival of flu season, many parents will be watching their children closely for symptoms of this dreaded virus. The flu, also known as influenza, is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs). The virus spreads easily in settings where many people are contained in close quarters such as schools and childcare, making children especially susceptible to the flu.
Often confused with the common cold, flu symptoms are typically more severe. The following symptoms are good indicators that your child has the flu:
- Rapid onset of fever (typically above 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Excessive tiredness, lack of energy and general weakness
- Muscle aches and chills
- Dry cough
- Stuffy, runny nose
Other symptoms that accompany the flu may include sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Remember, if your child comes down with the flu, keep them home from school or childcare for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone. The flu is highly contagious and can infect other children and caregivers. It can spread by direct contact, such as drinking from the same cup or through indirect contact, such as when a classmate sneezes on his hand and then touches the door handle.
Flu Prevention Tips
Annual outbreaks of seasonal flu typically occur during the fall through the spring. Knowing how to identify flu symptoms and prevent the virus will help you protect your family from getting the flu. Here are just a few tips to keep the virus away from your household.
- Teach your children proper and consistent hand washing
- Avoid sharing cups, bottles, and other utensils
- Encourage your children to keep their hands away from their eyes, nose and mouth to prevent germs from spreading
- Practice the importance of coughing or sneezing into your arm or a tissue
To prevent seasonal influenza, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children receive the influenza vaccination every year starting at six months of age. Ask your pediatrician about flu vaccinations for your child.
When your child is experiencing the flu, extra rest and drinking plenty of fluids can help relieve symptoms. Typical recovery time for the flu is one or two weeks. Contact your pediatrician if your child’s fever persists, he or she develops a cough, or if he or she complains of ear pain. Flu is a serious illness that should be monitored closely.