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How to Deal with Sore Throats in Children Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Sore throats can be caused by inflammation of the tonsils (tonsillitis), the larynx (laryngitis) or the pharynx (pharyngitis). The tonsils are the spongy looking areas on either side of the arch as you look at the back of the throat, the pharynx is the bit beyond the arch – the back of the throat – and the larynx you can’t see because it is too far down but you know you have laryngitis if you are hoarse. Younger children may develop croup if their larynx is affected.

All sore throats may be accompanied by a fever, nasal congestion and a cough. There will also be swollen glands. Tonsillitis will generally be the worst of the three and causes a child to be generally unwell.

image 53 How to Deal with Sore Throats in ChildrenWhat you can do…

o First of all treat as for a fever. If the child is otherwise OK she may not need to see a doctor and you will be able to treat her yourself.

o The vast majority of sore throats are caused by viruses. Antibiotics make absolutely no difference to the progress of the disease. Doctors may decide to treat tonsillitis with antibiotics but pharyngitis does not respond to antibiotics. Thankfully it only lasts a few days.

o In older children painkilling lozenges may help – ask your pharmacist.

o All sore throats cause pain on swallowing but if the child has difficulty in swallowing contact your doctor.

This article is a guide only – please seek advice from your medical advisor in all cases.

5 ways to motivate your child to get out of bed on time Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Getting out of bed in the morning is a struggle for many people, particularly children or teenagers. Teenagers have their body clocks working against them. During the teen years the natural habit is to stay up later and sleep later into the morning. Unfortunately, many high schools start very early in the morning which works against the natural rhythms of the teenager’s body clock. Because of this, it often takes some doing to motivate your child or teenager to get out of bed on time on a school morning.

image 43 5 ways to motivate your child to get out of bed on time

If your child or teenager is having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, try to offer a tangible incentive to being up and out of bed on time. This could be a chance for you and your child to sit down together for a few minutes at the beginning of the day. It could even be having time for a hot breakfast in the morning instead of having to eat cold cereal on the way out the door. These sorts of natural benefits to being up on time will help motivate your child to change his or her morning habits.

With many children or teenagers the logical approach can help them to understand why it is important to be up and out of bed on time. Explain that when they sleep in or hit the snooze button it adds to the morning stress for them and for everyone else in the house. On the other hand, when they are up on time there is more time in the morning for breakfast, checking homework, and other things without having to rush out the door at the last minute. Helping your child to understand how his actions in the morning affect the rest of the family can help him to change his ways.

For many children, the thought of getting up and going to school is simply not enough motivation to get out of bed. Instead, try waking your child up with something special. It could be a good morning kiss or song that you sing to them every morning. It could be sending a sibling into their room with a special treat. Whatever it is, waking your child up with something special is likely to help her to wake up in a more pleasant mood in the morning.

If your child doesn’t go for the sweet and special approach, try doing something funny to wake your child up in the morning. Send the dog in to lick her face. Have the cat walk on the bed and meow in his face. Have a younger sibling come into the room and sing a funny song. Whatever you do, make sure it is more fun to get up in the morning than it is to stay in bed.

If all else fails, try sending your child to bed earlier. Some children have trouble waking up in the morning because they are not getting enough sleep at night. If this is the case, then it is time to lay down the law and change your child’s bedtime habits. If your child complains that she is not tired at bedtime then tell her she can read or listen to music quietly but that she must be in bed. Getting more sleep at night may make it easier for your child to get out of bed on time in the morning.

5 indicators your child could be on drugs Friday, February 11th, 2011

Drugs. They are high on the list of every parent’s worst fear. Seemingly simple recreational drug use in a teenager or young adult can lead to a life full of trouble, crime, or even prison time. Many parents find themselves worrying that their child or teenager has started using drugs. Statistics that show high levels of drug use among teenagers scare them even more. Fortunately, there are some clear signs that can indicate that your child or teenager may have recently started using drugs.

The first and most powerful indicator that a child may have started using drugs is a sudden personality change. A previously funny and cheerful teenager who has suddenly turned crabby and sullen may have started experimenting with illicit drugs. Likewise a cranky teenager who all of a sudden thinks life is wonderful may be using. If you see a sudden personality change in your child or teenager it may be worth asking what has changed recently in his or her life.

Another indicator of possible drug use is if your child suddenly starts spending time with a different crowd of friends. A teenager who always spent time with “good” kids may suddenly start hanging out with a newer and darker crowd. That teen may have started using drugs and her new friends may be more apt to accept this than her older “good” friends.
If your child’s grades have always been good and suddenly start dropping, then drugs could definitely be a possibility. A child who was always a strong student and suddenly seems to have no interest in studying or doing well in school could be taking drugs or experimenting with other harmful or dangerous behaviors.

If your child is suddenly difficult to reach where he or she was not previously, this could be an indication of something new going on in his or her life. If your child suddenly stops answering his cell phone when he is at a friend’s house after school or starts hiding where he or she is going image 39 5 indicators your child could be on drugsthen this could be a sign that there is something to be concerned about. Most children will understand if you ask them to pick up the phone when you call. However, a child who does not want to tell you where he is going or who he has been with may be trying to hide drug use or another dangerous behavior.

Lastly, a child who is suddenly obsessed with keeping things private may be attempting to hide new drug use. To some extend an interest in privacy is age appropriate for children and teenagers. However, a teen who suddenly starts locking his door all of the time and wanting you to get out of his room may be hiding drug use or something else that he does not want you to see. A sudden obsession with privacy can be an indication that your child is trying to keep something from you. If you notice this or any other possible signs of drug use it may be time to sit down with your child or teenager and ask him what is going on in his life.

Should Children Take Antibiotics? Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Antibiotics are drugs which fight infection; doctors generally restrict the term to those that kill bacteria. Examples of bacterial infections include pneumonia and tonsillitis. The vast majority of winter ailments such as colds, flu, and chest infections are caused by a different type of organism called a virus and these do not respond at all to antibiotics.

When penicillin was first discovered it was effective against a wide range of bacteria, but as its use increased, bacteria were able to ‘learn’ to combat the antibiotic and it is now effective against only a limited number of bacteria. Research has produced dozens of new antibiotics since then but many have suffered the same fate. Doctors are becoming image 36 Should Children Take Antibiotics?concerned at this escalating resistance to antibiotics and many now feel that we should avoid using them at all in infections that are known to be viral.

Since we have so few effective treatments for viral illnesses this means that diseases such as flu, colds, and most sore throats would be treated symptomatically (with drugs such as paracetamol for fever or antihistamines for stuffy noses and catarrh). By doing this we could keep effective antibiotic treatments for those infections which really need them. Doctors would still have to make a diagnosis in many cases. Most people can self-diagnose a cold, but any unexpected or worrying symptoms should be reported to a doctor. The doctor would then decide whether to issue over-the-counter remedies or to issue a prescription.

Making Exercise Fun For Your Children Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Like so many other things, exercise has to be approached and taught in a fun way in order for children to enjoy and want to participate in exercising in the future. The first step to making exercise fun for your children is the need to introduce it in a way that avoids it feeling like a chore, like it is an obligation or something that they should see in a negative way. By creating fun opportunities to exercise, you are encouraging children to try it in the first place, and then try it again in the future.

Introducing exercise in a group setting changes the dynamic of exercising and lets young people know that this is something that they can engage image 38 Making Exercise Fun For Your Childrenin socially as well as privately. It also gives you the opportunity to create a more social playtime environment children where they can learn exercise moves that require a lot of movement and group participation. Look for games and exercises that can start out as one or the other, but include aspects of both to make them fun and constructive at the same time.

Spice up normal playtime activities such as bike riding, playing baseball and going to the beach so that they include a deal more physical exertion for children. Instead of just bike riding around the neighborhood, find a designated trail with hills so that it is a little more challenging and plan a day trip. Instead of a regular game of ball, which has a lot of downtime, play running bases and turn beach time into exercise time with relay races and other fun beach games. By adding this form of exercise into things that children already find entertaining, you will find that children do not even realize that they are being made to exercise or have the need for it.

Treatment for Viruses in Children Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Viruses are microscopic organisms which cause infection. There are millions of different types and many different strains of each type. Patients hoping for a quick prescription must get irritated by doctors telling them, ‘It’s just a virus’ but it’s usually true: viruses can cause fever, headache and muscle aches, sore throat, earache, hoarseness, coughs, swollen glands, rashes, tiredness, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, cold sores, joint pains, chest pains and many other symptoms!

Timage 34 Treatment for Viruses in Childrenhere are few effective treatments for viral illnesses. Antibiotics do nothing unless a patient has developed a bacterial illness on top of their viral illness (for example, sinusitis after a cold). The drugs which are effective against viruses are used mainly in hospital and in patients who have poor resistance to infection because of other illnesses. Doctors are very cautious because they do not want to risk viruses becoming resistant to anti-viral drugs in the same way that bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics.

The good news is that otherwise healthy adults and children have a good natural defence against these organisms and the vast majority of viral illnesses will heal without causing damage to the tissues of the body.

What you can do…

  • With viruses you treat the symptoms.
  • Call the doctor if there are any of the worrying signs.

Doctors will not usually prescribe antibiotics unless there is a secondary bacterial infection.

How to Cope with Choking in Children (298 words) Thursday, January 27th, 2011

If a child accidentally inhales something from the mouth choking will result. Coughing nearly always dislodges whatever is causing the obstruction to the air passages but if this does not happen quickly then you will have to help to dislodge it.

Action plan…
Look inside the mouth to see if it is possible to remove the object but do not put your fingers in to the back of the throat in case you push the object further down the windpipe. Then…

Babies under one year:

  • Lie the baby along your forearm or thigh with the head facing down.
  • Give up to five firm slaps between the shoulder blades.
  • If this does not work lie the baby on the floor on his back. Apply two fingers to an area a finger’s width below the nipples in the middle of the chest and press down about 2cm.image 32 How to Cope with Choking in Children (298 words)
  • Keep repeating back slaps then chest thrusts.
  • If the baby becomes unconscious do the chest thrusts five times then blow once gently into the lung.
  • If you are on your own take your baby to the phone while you dial emergency services but keep repeating these instructions until help arrives.

Children over one year:

  • Initially try to get the child to cough. Apply back slaps between the shoulder blades with the child leaning over your arm or the arm of a chair.
  • If this does not work apply chest thrusts. Place the heel of the hand two fingers’ width above where the ribs meet the breastbone. Press down five times.
  • If this does not work try the back slapping again followed by chest thrusts.

Make sure an ambulance is called and repeat these instructions until it arrives.

Please be aware this article offers general guidance only and does not replace the need for medical consultation and expert advice.

Children and Breath holding Saturday, November 6th, 2010

When some children become acutely upset or angry they may hold their breath for what seems like an unnaturally long time. You may find it happens more often if the child has been unwell or simply if they have had an active day and are very tired. It can be part of a tantrum and/or be a sign of sheer frustration. The child’s body may become very stiff and tense and her face will be red or even purple. Most children will eventually cry but if they don’t the attack may end with a loss of consciousness which will last for a few seconds or at the most up to a minute. This is extremely frightening for parents or carers but attacks end by themselves and no harm comes to the child.

What you can do…

  • The first time it happens you will probably be too shocked to act quickly but always try to remain calm.
  • Once you have seen an attack you may be able to predict the next one by the pattern of the child’s behaviour. Give her a gentle shake, holding her arms to get her attention, or blow on to her face to try to stop the attack in its tracks. Then give her a firm cuddle.
  • After the second or third attack you will probably be quite adept at predicting attacks. However, make an appointment at the surgery to confirm the diagnosis.

This article is a guide only – please seek advice from your medical advisor in all cases.

Conquering your child’s concerns and overcoming the fear of the dentist Thursday, November 4th, 2010

If you have a child that needs help overcoming the fear of the dentist, and then trust that you are not alone as many children have the same fear as well as some adults. The dentist can be an intimidating place for a little one if you put yourself in their frame of mind for just a minute. For example, a child enters the dentist’s office and to begin with they typically are not as welcoming with toys spread out and books for little ones to read. Secondly, a child sits in the reception area and can hear noises from drills and other types of dental equipment that are loud and can be quite frightening to a child. By the time the child sits in the dental chair to be examined they are already a bit scared and are being told to open their mouth so the doctor can poke around in it with pointy-looking utensils…all in all most children have many reasons to be intimidated about going to the dentist.

The first step to overcoming the fear of the dentist is to explain to your child realistically why they are there. Getting your teeth cleaned is typically not a painful process whatsoever, show your little one at home what the dentist will do with flossing and cleaning their teeth with a “special dentist toothbrush” and remind them of the mouth rinse options they will be given at the end of their visit as most dentists possess washes for kids that are flavored and even colored. image 19 Conquering your childs concerns and overcoming the fear of the dentist

Next you should always expect the worst possible scenario when taking your child to the dentist to not be disappointed as their parent and also to be prepared. If the child is small and under the age of seven or so, you can always take along a small toy or comfort item for the child such as a small stuffed animal for them to embrace while sitting in the chair. If the child is of preschool age this can be a truly fun activity for the little ones to get their “teddy bear’s teeth cleaned” as well. The child results in focusing their empathy for the teddy bear and forgets about their own fear of the dentist which is essentially the perfect situation.

Find a pediatric dentist in your area if you have one available as those ones are more prone to adapting to children with such fears and they also usually have more child-friendly rooms and décor to soothe their smaller patients. If the child is older, even a teenager you may want to speak to them more directly about the issue as shortly they will be adults and have to endure such treatments on their own. Ask your teen what their fear may be and even have them consult with a dentist prior to the appointment in an office setting to address their concerns and have a relationship started with the dentist prior to the treatments. Going to the dentist is a part of life that everyone has to accept eventually to maintain healthy teeth, continue to work with your child to set their fears at ease and the more visits they get under their belt the easier it will be for them to adapt to attending such medical treatments without any fears at all.

How to Deal with Constipation in Children Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

image 5 How to Deal with Constipation in ChildrenMost people will suffer from constipation at some time in their lives and children are no exception. Few people in developed countries eat enough roughage to keep their bowels emptying regularly throughout their lives. As well as roughage we need plenty of fluid to allow the fibre to swell and so stimulate the bowel to empty. The normal pattern varies from 2-3 times per day to once every two days. The pattern for breastfed babies can differ from those who are bottle-fed. Breastfed babies may dirty every nappy or may open their bowels very infrequently. They are less likely to develop constipation than babies fed on formula milk.

What you can do…

  • Give your child more fibre. Oranges are excellent and you can also try other fruits, vegetables, peas and beans. Don’t be tempted to add bran to a baby or toddlers diet as it may upset their system.
  • Encourage your child to drink more but don’t overdo the fizzy drinks or they may develop tummy pain.
  • If this still doesn’t work make an appointment at the surgery.

This article is a guide only – please seek advice from your medical advisor in all cases.

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