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Posted on 02/13/2019 20:46

Children and adults can both suffer from asthma - but children face unique challenges when living with this health issue. About 1 in 10 children live with asthma, and it’s one of the most common reasons why children are absent from school, go to emergency rooms, or are admitted to hospitals. In fact, research has found that children ages 1 to 3 years account for as high as one-fifth of emergency room visits caused by complications from asthma. That’s the largest proportion of visits among asthma patients under age 21.

While the root cause of asthma is not fully known, doctors know that asthma is a disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the airways. This inflammation causes narrowing of the airways and increased sensitivity to various triggers. These triggers can include everything from viral sources (i.e. the common cold) to air pollutants (i.e. tobacco smoke) to common allergens (i.e. pollen), amongst others.

While asthma is often associated with the spring allergy season, it can affect patients in any season. It is important for parents to monitor for signs of distress year round, and to seek help when dealing with a potential or known asthma diagnosis. Additionally, regular visits with your doctor (to anticipate potential triggers and discuss your child’s progress) is a necessity that allows doctors and families to create an asthma action plan - a specific treatment plan for a child that can address and sometimes prevent an asthma attack.

Monitoring for Asthma: Can You Identify Common Asthma Symptoms?

Asthma symptoms vary from child to child. Additionally, they may get worse or better over time. It is also possible for children to experience one or a combination of several symptoms.

Some common signs that your child may have asthma include:

  • Frequent, intermittent coughing
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Night time cough
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Prolonged recovery from respiratory infections

Diagnosing Asthma: When Should My Child See A Doctor?

If you recognize the symptoms listed above, bringing your child to your regular pediatrician is a great start. In the majority of cases, children do not need to see a specialist to get their asthma diagnosed and well managed. A symptom diary with dates, symptoms, and duration of illnesses can often be helpful. Inquiring about family history can also be helpful information, as we know there is a strong hereditary component to asthma. Early treatment will not only help control day-to-day asthma symptoms, but also may prevent more serious asthma attacks.

Treating Asthma: What Kind Of Care Will My Child Need If They Have Asthma?

Once a diagnosis is made, you will work with your pediatrician to develop a personalized asthma action plan. Plans include information such as step-by-step directions on what medicines to take and when; how to avoid triggers; what to do between flare-ups; and how to recognize and manage them if they happen. By following this plan, families will learn how to care for their child and when to call the doctor for help.

Asthma attacks can be prevented if patients are taught to avoid their asthma triggers, use long-term daily control medicines, and use their quick-relief medications in the event of an asthma attack. Additionally, it is important to ensure they get an annual flu shot as they are at higher risk for developing serious illness if they catch the flu.

Managing Asthma: How Can Parents Encourage Children to Take Medication?

Our final tips for families involve encouraging children to take their medications on a regular basis. Children can be stubborn and may want to avoid taking any medicine. However, there are things parents can do to encourage them to do so:

  • Mix medication with a small amount of food that your child loves, such as juice, applesauce, chocolate, or other flavorful foods.
  • Offer a small reward such as a sticker or an extra book at bedtime.
  • Model the use of an inhaler and pretend you will get the medicine, too.
  • Let your child pretend to administer the medication to their favorite stuffed toy.
  • Give medication as part of the child’s regular routine (ex. making it a part of their routine to getting ready in the morning or for bed).

Asthma & Your Family: What’s Next?

Having a child with asthma can seem daunting, but while the initial adjustment period has many things to learn, asthma care will quickly become a regular part of a family’s routine. Most importantly, proper asthma care ensures that your child will grow up healthy, energetic, and strong!

At Capital Area Pediatrics, we can help make and/or confirm the diagnosis of asthma, as well as help to create a personalized action plan and instruct children and families on the proper way to administer medications. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician,​ ​find your nearest location​ and contact us today!

Posted on 01/24/2019 15:20

Crying-Sick-Child-Cold-Flu-SeasonThe holidays have come and gone, but the season of sickness continues to affect adults and children. Most parents are aware that the first few months of a new year are often filled with coughs, fevers, runny noses, and other ailments. These symptoms can be caused by a handful of common illnesses.

While there is lots of crossover between these illnesses, there are some key differences parents can take note of when deciding what to do for their sick child. The following information will hopefully help you answer that all-too-familiar question: “What’s making my child sick?”

  1. The Common Cold. As the name suggests, the common cold is the most common childhood illness. Colds are caused by viruses that spread through the air and via close personal contact. Common cold symptoms usually develop slowly, starting with a sore throat, runny nose and sneezing, and often progressing to a cough. There is frequently a low fever and a lowered appetite as well. The good news is that the common cold resolves itself, with symptoms lessening and improving over 2 weeks. Older children with a cold don't usually need to see a doctor unless they look or feel very sick. Children under the age of three months, however, should see their doctor as soon as possible, as colds can become more dangerous in infants.
  2. Influenza. Also known as the flu, influenza is a very contagious viral infection spread via droplets in the air. These droplets are transmitted by sneezing, coughing, and even talking. Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms tend to come on rapidly. Symptoms typically include a high fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, headaches, weakness, and exhaustion. The good news is that many children recover on their own. But high-risk patients - including children under age 2 or those with chronic medical problems (such as asthma, diabetes, or cystic fibrosis) - should seek medical care in the first 48 hours of illness. Additionally, all families should contact a doctor if any child begins getting worse and having trouble with their illness.  And all parents should seek medical care if their children are having trouble breathing, changes in skin color, severe vomiting, or dehydration. Your best defense against the flu is vaccination - the sooner, the better!
  3. Pneumonia. Pneumonia can be caused by a variety of germs, including viruses (the most common cause), bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Pneumonia may present as a fever, cough, or trouble breathing (with grunting or wheezing sounds). Children with bacterial pneumonia usually become sick fairly quickly, starting with a sudden high fever and unusually fast breathing; or having prolonged cough and return of a new fever. Children with viral pneumonia often have symptoms that appear more gradually and are less severe, though wheezing can be more common. It’s also possible for children to develop chills, vomiting, chest pain, abdominal pain, and a loss of appetite. No matter the cause, pneumonia and its complications can be quite serious. If your child begins to have breathing problems, bring them to their pediatrician for an exam as soon as possible.
  4. Strep throat. Strep throat is always caused by bacteria and therefore is always treatable with antibiotics. Strep throat is usually not associated with a cough or a runny nose. Instead, its primary symptom is a sore throat, which may make it difficult to swallow. Patients may also present with a fever, headache, nausea, stomachache, and red body rash. Strep is more common in school-age children and less common in children under age 3 years. If your child has a sore throat and other strep throat symptoms, call your doctor and schedule an appointment for additional testing.

While this time of year can be scary for parents, the good news is that most coughs and sniffles will resolve themselves with plenty of fluids and bed rest. In addition to monitoring for symptoms, parents should teach their children about preventative actions and habits designed to stop the spread of germs, including:

  • Washing our hands with warm water and soap, and/or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Covering our nose and mouth with a tissue when we sneeze (and washing our hands afterward).
  • Avoiding others when they are sick.
  • Maintaining a clean, sanitary space.

Additionally, parents should bring their children to their pediatrician for an annual flu shot. Ideally, children will get their shot before flu season even begins. However, even a late shot can add a layer of protection against the influenza virus.

Still have questions about your child’s health during cold and flu season? Do you have concerns about any particular symptoms? Feel free to contact our Capital Area Pediatrics team at a location that’s convenient for you. Our staff can answer your inquiries and help you move forward with a care plan that will address your child’s symptoms in the best way possible.

Image Courtesy of pexels.com

 
Posted on 12/27/2018 18:53

Five Ways to Keep Your Children Active in the WinterWinter is an exciting season for children, who often look forward to less time in school and more time with their families. However, as that chilly winter weather takes over, outdoor activities become limited. Kids tend to spend more time indoors and usually eat more around the holidays. Not a healthy combination!

Rather than allow our families to fall into sedentary habits and food comas, we should encourage and find ways for our kids to be active during the winter. Recent studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that children and adolescents should have at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily. Not only is that movement good for the body - it’s good for children’s cognitive, academic, and overall development!

To help your family beat that seasonal temptation to sit still, we’ve rounded up some effective and entertaining ways to keep your children moving. So go ahead, bundle up in comfortable layers if need be, and start moving with these ideas:

  1. Use Interactive Exercise (Together as a Family!). Kids these days love devices as much as any of us - so why not play into that? You can get creative this season by incorporating any interactive video game like Kinect, Xbox, or Wii Fit into your exercise routine. Plus, parents can play along with their kids for an extra level of fun!
  2. Visit Indoor Activity Centers. If you absolutely can’t stand the cold, work around it!  Visit an indoor swimming pool or  indoor recreational sports facility where children can play soccer, basketball, karate, volleyball, and more. Local rock climbing, trampoline or parkour parks are great indoor exercises, too.
  3. Do Household Chores with Kids. While not quite as fun as a Wii Fit, chores can count as an activity, while also helping to teach your children about discipline and housework. Cooking, cleaning the dishes, tidying up their rooms - this is all beneficial in small but important ways. Also, have your kids help you shovel the sidewalk after a snowfall. They will get to exercise their muscles and build a sense of accomplishment in completing the task.
  4. Go Outside from Time to Time. We all have to leave the house eventually! Have your kids go with you when you walk your dog, or take a stroll through the neighborhood to take in the lights and sounds of the holiday season. You can also bring your kids along on your shopping and errands. Remember, all those steps around the mall or grocery store add up!
  5. Hold Winter Games at a Local Park. To help your children get excited about the chilly weather, you can enjoy mini-games in your nearest community park to take advantage of the season. You can create igloos, build snowmen, go sledding, have snowball fights, and play hide-and-seek in the trees. This will keep them active physically despite the cold weather.

Exercise should always be entertaining and fun, especially for children. And creativity and variety goes a long way in helping people of all ages stay active. Try to eliminate the boredom factor by giving your family as many choices for fun activities as possible this season!

Still have questions about your child’s health and activity needs? Feel free to contact our Capital Area Pediatrics team at a location that’s convenient for you. Our staff is always happy to answer specific questions that will help you personalize your family’s healthy lifestyle needs and goals!

Posted on 11/27/2018 17:12

Cooking with the family is  a crucial part of child development and health.Can you remember the last time your family made a meal together? Cooking with our kids and sharing family recipes is a rarity in many households these days. It can be difficult to find the time to buy groceries, plan meals, prep all that food, and to clean up - especially when juggling the schedules of an entire family! But it’s important for parents to make time where possible, even just to teach their kids simple cooking techniques. Because...

Cooking Helps Their Health, Development & More!

Did you know that preparing and cooking meals helps children enhance their patience, sense of direction, and confidence? Not only that - kids who are hands-on in the kitchen are primed to make healthier food choices. Teaching our children to cook will also foster transferable skills, like basic math computations. And following the instruction of each recipe during the cooking process from beginning to end helps build their skills in planning and completing a task.

In detail, let’s focus on the four biggest ways children can benefit from making their meals with their family:

  1. It Enhances The Mind. Cooking can inspire kids, helping them build their thinking analysis capabilities, simple mathematical skills, ability to predict an outcome, problem-solving capabilities, observational skills, and measuring skills. All of this because they have to carefully follow instructions and sequences during the cooking process!
  2. It Improves Social & Emotional Intelligence. Cooking helps to encourage children to feel confident and independent, trusting themselves and their abilities more fully. It  gives them a chance to learn about where ingredients come from, opening the door to conversations about food sources and food waste. These topics are relevant to children’s social awareness, helping them learn about how their choices affect their local and global community.
  3. It Helps Children Grow Stronger. Exposing children to hands-on cooking activities - such as mixing, squeezing, chopping, and spreading - encourages the development of muscle, eye and hand coordination. This is a great addition in their early years of physical growth and development.
  4. It Emphasizes Language Skills. Some ingredients and dishes may prove to be difficult to pronounce for most kids, making it beneficial for their language development. Plus, it can stir up curiosity, which encourages conversations about questions about cooking, cultures, the environment and other connections they make.

Are You Ready To Start Cooking?

Cooking is becoming an underappreciated family activity. But spending time in the kitchen is valuable, creating quality time for kids and parents alike.  With the holidays approaching, it is a great period of time to bring this family activity back to your household.

Letting your kids experience the different steps and styles of cooking - from preparation to the end result - will ultimately help them develop skills that are beneficial to them. Engaging our kids and exposing them to this training will also prove to be a great bonding opportunity, allowing families to celebrate their cultural heritage as well as foster self-confidence, responsibility, and accomplishment in themselves.

Ready to get started? It’s easier than ever to find healthy, easy-to-make recipes online! If you have any dietary concerns or would like a professional opinion on your meal prep, please don’t hesitate to contact your Capital Area Pediatrics team for some tips. We’re happy to help you get started as you work to increase your family’s time in the kitchen!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Posted on 10/23/2018 18:56

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With October almost over, influenza or flu season is upon us.  The flu is one of the most common illnesses and it can be dangerous for children. Influenza can cause serious complications such as pneumonia, heart inflammation, and seizures. It could also worsen existing medical issues such as asthma. In rare cases, influenza could even lead to death. Thousands of children are hospitalized each year for the flu.  

Influenza is a contagious virus that can be spread by coughing or sneezing droplets to surrounding people.  It is difficult for anyone during flu season to avoid exposure to the flu, especially young children in close daycare and school environments.  The first line of defense to protect your children from the flu is to get them vaccinated.

Who Should Get the Flu Vaccine?

  • All children age 6 months and up
  • Pregnant women
  • Parents and close caregivers of infants under 6 months of age, to protect the infant that cannot get vaccinated
  • All adults, especially over 65 years of age
  • Anyone with chronic medical problems or who is immunosuppressed

When Should My Child Get a Flu Vaccine?  

According to the CDC, every child aged 6 months or older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes about 2 weeks after receiving a flu vaccination to be protected. Therefore, it is a good idea to get your children vaccinated at the beginning of the flu season, as early as September. However, it is never too late to get vaccinated as the flu season can last until May.  If your child under age 9 years old is receiving a flu vaccine for the first time, they will need 2 doses, making it especially important to begin the process early.

Are Flu Vaccines Safe?

Years of experience have shown that the influenza vaccine is very safe. Hundreds of millions of Americans have safely received flu vaccines over the past 50 years. Influenza vaccines cannot infect your child with the flu.   Common side effects, like most vaccines, include low-grade fever, achiness, and soreness at the shot site.  These side effects are NOT the flu and usually go away within a few days.

Should My Child Get the Flu Shot or Nasal Spray this Year?

In past years, the flu vaccine has been offered a shot or nasal spray.  For the last 2 seasons, the flu shot is preferred for children of all ages because it has been shown to be safe and more effective than the nasal spray.  While the flu vaccine is not 100% effective in preventing getting the flu, it has been shown to lessen disease severity.  Most vaccinated patients that still get sick with the flu report less severe symptoms and quicker recovery.  Among the 183 child deaths reported to the CDC last season, about 80% were in children who were not vaccinated.

What if I have Questions about the Flu Vaccine?

It is inevitable that your children may be exposed to the flu. Getting vaccinated, covering coughs and sneezes, and good hand-washing practices are the best steps to prevent spreading flu. To schedule an appointment for a flu shot or talk with your Capital Area Pediatrics provider about other flu vaccine-related questions, find your nearest location and our staff will be happy to assist you!

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Posted on 10/01/2018 13:27

Most adults know how it feels waking up after a poor night’s rest.  Simple tasks are difficult, time drags on, anxiety is high and a lot of coffee is required.But for children, a sleepless night or two can be more detrimental. Consistent sleep is an essential aspect to early child development from both a physical and cognitive standpoint. Without it, children aren’t growing or learning at the rate they should be. 

 

Age is the primary variable in how much sleep your child should be getting each night. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Infants (4 to 12 months): 12-16 hours (including naps)

Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours (including naps)

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours (including naps)

School-Age Children (6 to 12 years): 9 to 12 hours

Teenagers (13 to 18 years):8 to 10 hours 

Parents need to establish a plan for developing healthy sleep habits in their children. These habits begin their early years, but can be altered over time as they grow older and are exposed to different types of distractions. We’ll explore some different methods below. 

 

INFANTS
 

Be observant. Newborns often sleep most of the day and night, averaging 16-20 hours a day. However, their sleep cycle is irregular depending on when they need to be fed, changed or nurtured. As parents, it’s important to remain observant of your infant’s needs. Typically, babies will express their desire to sleep by crying, rubbing their eyes, fussing or displaying their non-verbal cues unique to their personality. Know how to spot these signs in order to begin identifying sleeping patterns and habits. 

●  Proper crib use. Teach your infant that their crib is a place for sleeping – not playing with toys or laying wide awake while waiting for their parent to sing them a lullaby. Safe sleep practices for infants up to one year of age include room sharing without bed sharing. An infant under one year of age must sleep on his back in his own bed.  Take them to the crib when they’re drowsy to establish the same routine for falling asleep by themselves. 

●  Don’t be afraid to adapt. As your baby grows older, night-time feedings can be spread out, usually around 4 months) They can sleep through the night for more than 8 hours, which allows you to as well. Once a baby begins to regularly sleep through the night, parents are often dismayed if night wakings happen again. This typically happens at about 6-9 months of age. Babies may also begin to have difficulty going to sleep because of separation anxiety, overstimulation, or overtiredness.  It is important to adapt  your strategies with these developmental changes.

 

TODDLERS & PRESCHOOLERS 

 

●  Routines and schedules are great.   Make bedtime the same time every night. This helps your child know what to expect and helps him establish healthy sleep patterns. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Establish calm and enjoyable activities in the 30 minutes right before bedtime, such as taking a bath or reading bedtime stories to help your child wind down. Whenever possible, keep morning wake up and nap time consistent to avoid confusion. 

●  Limit electronic use. While electronics are commonly used in most families, they should be avoided before bedtime. The light from devices can result in later fall-asleep times and shorter amounts of sleep by affecting natural melatonin levels in the brain and our natural body clock.  It is best if your children should not use their electronics after a certain hour – preferably 3-4 hours before bed. 

 

SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN  

 

●  Don’t forget: they still need sleep. School aged children need 9-12 hours of sleep. At the same time, there is an increasing demand on their time: homework, sports and other extracurricular activities. They also become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet as well as caffeine products.  All of these factors can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep. Sleep-deprived children can become hyper or irritable or have trouble paying attention in school.

●  Consisency is key. Just like routines and schedules as toddlers, consistency with their day will help their night be smoother.  Keep them active during the day with exercise, sports or other after-school activities; continue limiting electronic device use; stress the importance of proper hygiene with a nightly routine of brushing their teeth, flossing and taking a hot shower. 

 

TEENAGERS 

 

Talk to them. Teens are not as likely to change bad sleep habits unless they recognize more sleep makes them feel better. Lack of sleep not only undermines teenagers’ safety and their academic performance, but puts them at higher risk for depression and obesity. Despite adolescents’ expectations of autonomy, parental influence and expectations really do help kids make better decisions about managing their time. Talk to your teens about their sleep hygiene and how changes might make them feel better.

●  Routines still rule. You can see routines from infancy are still important as your children age. Stay active during the day, limit screens (even homework) to earlier in the evening, watch their snacking, dim lights in the house closer to bedtime.   It’s important for your teen to go to bed as close as possible to the same time every night, including weekends within reason.  If a teen’s sleep schedule shifts dramatically on the weekends—staying up most of the night and sleeping until midafternoon Saturday and Sunday—the chances of getting back to normal Sunday night are slim.

 

These guidelines can help you establish healthy sleep habits in your children regardless of their age! If you are seeking additional advice, don’t hesitate to contact your Capital Area Pediatricsphysician. Our team can individually assess your children’s health and safety needs, and provide specific advice for ideal parenting methods. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician,find your nearest locationand contact us today! 

 
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