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Capital Area Pediatrics
Posted on 08/27/2018 13:20

It’s that time of year again - back to school! It’s a time that can be fun and exciting, but one that can also bring worries and stress along with it. Transition of any kind isn’t the easiest process for a child, and returning to school is no different. Gone are the laid-back days of summer with later bedtimes, no homework and looser schedules. 


What’s an example of back-to-school anxiety? 


Will I fit in with the other kids? Who will I sit with at lunch? Who’s my new teacher? Is he/she mean? How difficult will my classwork be? What if I can’t understand it? Will my parents be mad if I get bad grades? Will I fit in? Will my outfits look dumb? Will I get made fun of? Will I get bullied? Will I experience peer pressure?


These are just some of the anxious thoughts your child could have at the start of the new school year. Anxiety affects everyone differently, but for some children it can be overwhelming. With all of this in mind, it’s essential that your child understands there are resources available to overcome it. Below are five ways you can help your child through the transition and enter the school year relaxed and ready.


Encourage communication


Establishing healthy, open communication with your child should be considered a top priority. Try to find a time to sit down with your child and ask about how they feel going into the new school year.  Find out what they are most concerned about and help them come up with some solutions that might work to relieve the concern.  Remind them they can always come to you to talk if they have worries in the future, as well.  Maintaining an open line of communication, without smothering them with too many questions, can keep them from shutting you out and keeping their worries to themselves.  As parents, you cannot fix what you do not know exists.  


Some phrases you can try to keep the communication going:


●“Hey, I’m here if you need to talk.”

● “I’m a good listener.”

● “If there’s something on your mind, I’m here to help...not to judge.”

● “What’s wrong? Let’s talk.”


Form healthy habits


Anxiety can cause your child to eat poorly, avoid physical activity or have trouble sleeping.  Make sure this trio of important everyday habits don’t go by the wayside. 


Provide nutritious meals while decreasing the amount of junk food (sweets, soda and other

sugary drinks, chips, processed foods, etc) you have at home. These foods are OK in moderation, but shouldn’t be used by your child to suppress their symptoms of anxiety - a poor habit that can last into adulthood.  As much as possible, try sitting down as a family to eat a healthy dinner.  This not only provides your child with the nutrients they need to do well in school, it also provides the entire family with time to talk and discuss the good and bad parts of their day.  


Establish a routine at least one week before school begins that includes a consistent sleep schedule and daily physical activity. Both are proven to help aid anxiety and other mental health issues.


Be positive


Keep a positive outlook!  Remind your child that there are also fun aspects associated with

heading back to school that can help alleviate their symptoms. A few examples include:


●Participating in sports 

●Participating in after-school clubs or projects based around other non-sport interests

●A fall class field trip 

●Regularly scheduled playdates with friends 


Encourage them to get involved as much as they can. Joining different teams or clubs can help

them develop new friends and new interests that make them happy.


Get to know the teacher


Make sure you’re on the same page with your child’s new teacher(s). It might be worth calling or

emailing them in advance just to introduce yourself, and elaborate that your child is experiencing some anxiety about returning to school. They’ll keep it in mind over the first few weeks, and will know to contact you if it’s impacting their performance or overall well-being.


Act as a problem-solver


If your child comes to you for help or advice, act on it. Using common phrases like “Don’t

worry” or “You’ll be fine” do not address the root of the issue, and offer little help on how to fix it.

Instead, start a conversation about their concerns and help find a solution. Questions you can

ask include:


● What are some things we can do to get through this?

● Let’s think of some ways we can solve this problem.


Using “we” instead of  “you” assures you’re there to help them through the process. They’re not in it alone.


These tips will help ensure a strong start to the new school year for your child. And if the anxiety

worsens, don’t hesitate to seek professional help with your provider at Capital Area Pediatrics.

Posted on 07/25/2018 17:15

Summer is the optimal time for families to take advantage of their backyards. Being
able to head outside without leaving the home allows families to play games, catch
fireflies, dig in the garden, and enjoy a range of other activities.
Safety is key, however, when we’re spending time outdoors. The last thing anyone
wants is for our backyard adventures to require any medical care. With that in mind, here are some tips that can help you make your backyard the safest play area

Always set boundaries and supervise children. It’s important to help
children understand how far they can and cannot go when spending time
outside. Granted, this is easier if you have fences! But no matter what, it’s
important to teach children to play within a set area. It’s also important to
keep at least one adult in the yard, particularly for kids 8 years-old and under.

Check for poisonous plants. Plants are one of the leading causes of
poisoning among children, especially preschoolers. You can use Google or
contact your local Poison Help Line to figure out which poisonous greens
grow in your specific area. If you do find any poisonous plants, it is best to
remove them altogether.

Teach children to never eat straight from the backyard. Even after
checking for poisonous plants, it’s best to teach children not to eat anything in
the backyard – not even berries or flowers. Even if you maintain a garden, it’s
important to make sure children don’t eat any produce prior to it being
properly washed.

Beware of lawn care. If you treat your backyard or garden with pesticides
or herbicides, be sure to follow any exposure instructions that come with the
product you buy. Generally, it’s recommended that parents prohibit children
from playing on a treated lawn for at least forty-eight hours. Additionally, it’s
recommended that children stay inside when you mow the lawn, as lawn
mowers can kick up debris that may injure a child.

BBQ with caution. When cooking outdoors, families need to make sure
children understand that BBQs are as dangerous to touch as a stove. Parents
should supervise a grill at all times, and ensure that any propane tanks
are stored in a place where children cannot touch them.

Stay away from heights. Falls are the leading cause of injury among
children and should be considered when spending time outside. Treehouses
should never be set higher than 10 feet above the ground. If your yard
includes a swing set, treehouse, or other playground-type equipment, you
should layer 12 inches of wood chips or mulch beneath them
to reduce the
shock of a fall. Teach children to never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines,
or pet leashes to play equipment, as they can become a strangulation hazard.
Finally, as fun as they may be, injury experts recommend not having any kind
of trampoline in your backyard - they’re just not worth the risk.

Be careful with insect repellent. Mosquitos, biting flies, and ticks can be
quite an annoyance for children in the summer. While most bug bites only
cause mild reactions, there are still instances where children can develop a
serious illness that requires medical attention. It’s important to protect your child from insects, but still do so with caution. DEET, a chemical found in some of the strongest repellents, should not be used on children younger than 2 months. Never spray it on wounds, cuts, or irritated skin, and keep it away from your child’s eyes and mouth. Also, read the label to make sure your repellent doesn’t contain more than 30% of DEET.

These guidelines can make any backyard that much safer and more
enjoyable for families and their children! If you are seeking additional
advice on how to safely enjoy the season, please contact your Capital Area
physician. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician, find
your nearest location
and contact us today!

Posted on 06/29/2018 15:07

Earlier this year, a four year old girl was hospitalized for a suspected case of dry drowning. Her case understandably sparked frightening warnings to parents. With pool season approaching, many parents asked: is it still OK for my child to play in the water?

Children Water Safety Dry Drowning Summer

If you have questions about dry drowning and what it means for your family, then this blog is for you:

Dry Drowning: What It Is

“Dry drowning” is a non-medical term used to describe certain symptoms experienced after being submerged in a body of water. Dry drowning is one type of post-immersion syndrome, along with near drowning and secondary drowning. Post-immersion syndromes are notably different than a standard drowning case, where a child tragically passes away due to submersion in and inhalation of water.

In so-called dry drowning cases, large amounts of water never reaches the lungs. Instead, breathing in a small bit of water by mistake triggers spasms of the vocal cords and the airways, making them narrower and even closing them off. This happens because the body is trying to keep the water from entering the child’s lungs. However, the spasms and closing of the airway can make it difficult for a child to breathe, resulting in a “dry drowning” case.  This chain reaction takes place quite quickly, and dry drowning sets in less than an hour after inhalation.

Dry Drowning: How Common Is It?

It’s important for parents to know that this condition is very rare! According to news reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that of the approximately 4,000 drowning or near drowning incidents that occur in the United States annually, post-immersion syndromes account for 1% - 5% in total. So while frightening, the risk of dry drowning is low. 

Dry Drowning: What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of dry drowning develop within an hour of a child leaving the water:

  • Primarily, coughing and difficulty breathing or speaking
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain due to pressure building on their lungs
  • Headaches
  • Change in behavior, such as sleepiness or agitation

Dry Drowning: Treatment

Dry drowning symptoms will develop within an hour of a child exiting the water. If you do see any symptoms, dial 911 for emergency medical assistance. While waiting for help, try to help your child stay calm, so that their panic does not contribute to their muscle tightness.

Paramedics will be able to administer treatment on the scene and will take your child to the hospital for observation and possible further treatment.

Dry Drowning: Prevention

In addition to monitoring children after they spend any time in water, you can take action to help to prevent dry drowning:

  • Children under the age of 4 should always be supervised when in water, even if they're just in the bathtub.
  • Consider investing in swimming lessons to ensure that children learn how to swim safely early on.
  • Never let children swim in a pool or in the ocean unless a lifeguard is present.
  • Teenagers are more likely to have drowning incidents while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Discuss these risks with your teens.
  • Discourage rough play in and around water.
  • Ensure pools are properly guarded.
  • Always wear life jackets while boating.

A Final Note From Our Doctors

Knowing how to address dry drowning in case of an emergency is very helpful. However, it’s worth remembering that these cases are very uncommon. And basic water safety can go a long way in preventing this rare but possibly tragic phenomenon!

If you are seeking additional advice on how to safely enjoy the summer, please contact your Capital Area Pediatrics physician. Our team can individually assess your children’s health and safety needs, and provide specific advice for your child. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician, find your nearest location and contact us today!

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Posted on 05/22/2018 17:55

Children should not play summer sports without a sports physical.While summer is almost here and the school year is coming to an end, you and your child may already be looking at various sports for them to participate in during the upcoming school year. Allowing your child to play a sport is a fun way for them to socialize with other children and keep them healthy and active. Before the season starts, however, it is important for your child to visit their pediatrician and get a sports physical exam.

A sports physical exam, also known as a preparticipation physical evaluation (PPE), helps determine whether or not a student athlete is healthy enough to participate in a sport. In the state of Virginia, sports physicals are required by individual schools and by the Virginia High School League prior to participation in a sport. Even if a sports physical isn’t required by your child’s school, it’s still recommended that your child gets one as a safety precaution.

There are two parts of a sports physical: the medical history portion and the physical examination. The medical history portion includes questions related to family history, past illnesses, recent injuries, allergies, and current medications. During the physical exam, the pediatrician will record your child’s height, weight, pulse and blood pressure; check their ears, nose, throat, heart, lungs, and abdomen; and evaluate their flexibility and strength.

Sports physicals are important because they ensure that your child is healthy enough to participate in the sport that they choose. The exam can help uncover current health problems that you and your child need to address prior to participating in the sport. It can also help recognize potential health problems that could affect your child in the future and determine solutions for preventative care.

A sports physical also gives you and your child the opportunity to voice your concerns about particular sports and ask the pediatrician about risk factors associated with them. Your child’s pediatrician knows your child and their health history better than anyone else, making them the best option for your child’s physical.

Start the summer off right by scheduling a physical exam for your child before they begin their sport! We would also be happy to complete your sports form at the time of your visit. At Capital Area Pediatrics, our team can help you and your child address any health issues and give you both the go-ahead for the upcoming season. To schedule an appointment with one of our pediatricians, find your nearest location and give our staff a call today.

Image courtesy of pexels.com

Posted on 04/26/2018 18:45

Did you know that just a handful of serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life?

Or that experts estimate that we get between 50% and 75% of our lifetime sun exposure before we turn 18 years old?

Or that even on a cool day with light cloud cover, UV radiation can cause skin damage?

Children need extra care to avoid health problems and sun damage.These facts are exactly why good skin care and protection must begin at an early age. That means minimizing our children’s exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. And during the spring and summer, it’s particularly important for families to practice good skin care habits. While cooler weather drives us indoors during the fall and winter, warmer weather encourages families to visit sunny beaches, play sports, or just enjoy an afternoon in the backyard.

We’re not saying that you can’t enjoy these seasonal staples! Just that it’s important for families to remember the following skin care tips:

  • Apply sunscreen. It’s not a secret that sunscreen is a must when it comes to skin care and protection from the sun. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that families use sunscreen every time your child goes outside. The CDC currently recommends using sunscreens with a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15, as well as UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection. That said, it’s best to go for a higher SPF if you can! An SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93 percent of UVB radiation, while an SPF 30 sunscreen blocks nearly 97 percent. Additionally, for the best protection, it’s best to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outdoors. Be sure to reapply it throughout the day! And don’t rely on sunscreen alone, as it’s meant to be combined with other healthy habits for maximum effectiveness.
  • Stick to the shade. No matter how enticing the sunlight is, all experts recommend avoiding it if you can - especially from 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is when the sun’s rays are the most damaging. If you can’t plan an indoor activity for your family during this block of time, seek out a tree, open an umbrella, or set up a pop-up tent to help keep those UV rays from reaching your children’s skin.
  • Cover up. Another thing you can do to protect your and your children’s skin is to cover it with longer shirts and pants. Clothes made from tightly woven fabric offer the best protection. This tip gets harder to abide by as it warms up, but it’s still worth remembering and following to the best of your abilities.
  • Invest in a good hat. Hats are a wonderful way to keep the sun from reaching our face and eyes, both of which can be easily damaged by the sun. However, the best hats also provide shade for our ears and neck. Children are more likely to wear baseball caps, which do not cover these areas. Always remember to use sunscreen to protect any areas a hat doesn’t cover.
  • Love the shades. Sunglasses are not just an accessory for the vain. They protect your child’s eyes from UV rays, which can lead to cataracts later in life. Always buy sunglasses that have a sticker certifying that they block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays!

Following these tips will go a long way in helping your children enjoy themselves while taking healthy precautions. Of course, depending on your child’s age or even their current state of health, you may need to take additional steps to ensure they avoid sun damage. If you think you need additional advice on keeping your family healthy, please contact your Capital Area Pediatrics physician. Our team can individually assess your children’s health and safety needs, and provide specific advice for your child’s health and skin care needs. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician, find your nearest location - and know that our staff will be happy to assist you!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Posted on 03/20/2018 22:37

pansy-2173208_1280.jpgAs of March 20th, spring has sprung! And as the weather warms and we begin to head outside, our winter habits need to be updated accordingly, to ensure that our families stay safe and healthy. In addition to adhering to any specific plans established for your family, we generally advise parents to be particularly observant of the following spring health tips:

  • Lyme disease prevention. As the weather warms, ticks begin flourishing. With the increase in tick activity comes a risk of contracting Lyme disease - an inflammatory illness caused by the bacteria in some tick's bites. Fortunately, Lyme disease is preventable. Avoiding tall grass and wooded areas while outdoors can help you avoid ticks. Keeping your own yard's grass and shrubbery trimmed will also cut down on potential exposure. While outdoors, consider using insect repellants known to work on ticks, and remember to dress appropriately. That means light colored clothing - so you can spot ticks - and tucking pant legs into your socks and boots, as well as shirts into your pants! Finally, make tick checks part of your routine any time you family spends time outdoors - even in your own yard. (To learn more about all of these tips, and about the symptoms of a tick bite, just click here.)
  • Allergy and asthma care. While these two conditions often occur together, it’s important to note that they are not the same. An allergy refers to when our body's immune system overreacts to specific substances - such as pollen or animal dander. Asthma, on the other hand, is a respiratory condition - often resulting from an allergy - that makes it difficult for a sufferer to breathe. If your child has allergies, it’s important to monitor their triggers and to work with your doctor to safely learn how severe the allergy is. If your child has asthma, be sure to help them avoid common triggers that make it difficult for them to breathe. Additionally, you should meet with your Capital Area Pediatrics provider to review any allergy or asthma care and response plans - this will ensure they are up to date for the 2018 spring season.
  • Sunlight protection. Warmer weather means we’ll be spending more time outdoors - and that means potential sun damage. Sun damage from UV rays is linked to skin cancer, and is cumulative. That means a bad burn now can increase your child’s risk of cancer later in life. To help protect your child, it’s important to stay in the shade whenever possible; to cover up with clothes as much as possible; to wear hats, preferably ones that shade the face, scalp, ears, and neck; to wear sunglasses that block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible; and to use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection every time your child goes outside.

These general guidelines can go a long way in making the new season a safer one! If you have any outstanding questions about your family’s care needs, please contact your Capital Area Pediatrics physician. Our team can individually assess your children’s health and safety needs, and ensure they are ready for spring. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician, find your nearest location and our staff will be happy to assist you!

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