medical

information

Here are some of the most common childhood health complaints that frequent our office.  Often, they can be treated at home effectively without medical intervention.   General advice for treating these complaints is supplied for your information. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.  Please contact our office if you have any specific health concerns.

ASTHMA

What Is It?

Asthma is a disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.  It can be worsened by exercise or strenuous physical activity.

How is it treated?

Asthma involves treating the symptoms in two ways.  Sudden onset symptoms can be reduced with the use of an inhaler, while the disease is treated long-term with steroids, Leukotriene inhibitors, or broncho-dialators.  It's a good idea to also know the triggers of asthma attacks and avoid activities where they are likely to occur.

Where can I get more information?

COMMON COLD/COUGH

What Is It?

Your child will endure more colds in their lifetime than any other illness.  In the first two years, it's common to have as many as 10.  Colds are caused by a virus, which is easily passed onto others.

How is it treated?

In most cases, a common cold can be treated safely and effectively at home with over-the-counter medications.  Babies under the age of 3 months should be seen by a medical professional to rule out other, more serious illnesses.  Because colds are caused by a virus and not bacteria, antibiotic treatment is not warranted.

Where can I get more information?

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CONJUNCTIVITIS (Pink Eye)

What Is It?

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the the outermost layer of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.  It is most commonly due to an infection (usually viral, but sometimes bacterial or an allergic reaction).

How is it treated?

Most cases resolve themselves, so treatment involves easing the symptoms.  Eye drops, cool water and cold compresses help ease the symptoms.  An antibiotic may be prescribed depending on the type and severity of the case.

Where can I get more information?

CONSTIPATION

What Is It?

Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass.  Newborns who move their bowels less than once a day, and older children who go 2-3 days between movements, may be constipated.

How is it treated?

Adding more water, prune juice or high-fiber foods to your child's diet may improve constipation.  If relief is not experienced within a day or two, a laxative may be prescribed by your pediatrician.  DO NOT give your child a laxative without consent from your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

CROUP

What Is It?

Croup is caused by a virus that targets the nose, throat and upper airway causing cold symptoms and a cough. Children with croup often also have inspiratory stridor, a harsh noise noted when breathing in.  Croup tends to be more common in the colder months and often worsens at night.

How is it treated?

Steam from a hot shower or the cold night air may help your child's breathing.  A vaporizer or humidifier in their room may also be used.  If your child has significant symptoms your pediatrician may suggest treatment with steroids.

Where can I get more information?

DIAPER RASH

What Is It?

Diaper rash is a generic term applied to rashes that appear in the groin area as a result of prolonged exposure to moisture.  Most children experience diaper rash from time to time.  It's usually not serious, though some cases can yield to other infections requiring antibiotic treatment.

How is it treated?

Treat with zinc oxide creams such as DesItin and limit exposure by changing soiled diapers often.  After gentle cleansing, pat dry thoroughly or allow to air dry.  Call if the rash does not show improvement within 4-5 days.

Where can I get more information?

DIARRHEA

What Is It?

Diarrhea is characterized by  having three or more loose, watery bowel movements per day, often with stomach cramping and general feeling of illness.

How is it treated?

Moderate diarrhea may require special fluids to replace electrolytes lost due to diarrhea.  Feed your child normally, with an emphasis on foods that do not upset his stomach further.  Contact your pediatrician in the event a high fever, dehydration, blood in the stool or a change in behavior is noted.

Where can I get more information?

EARACHES

What Is It?

Ear aches are caused by infections of the middle ear.  These may be bacterial or viral and result in significant pain or discharge from the ear canal.  They frequently accompany bouts of colds and flu and are usually not serious.

How is it treated?

Pain may be controlled with ibuprofen and ear drops. Sometimes a warm compress helps as well.  If pain does not subside with ibuprofen, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.  In severe or repeated cases, a specialist may recommend tubes be placed in your child's ears for drainage.

Where can I get more information?

HEADACHES

What Is It?

Headaches are quite common in children, resulting from stress, tension or brought about by another illness such as the flu or a cold.  While the overwhelming majority are not serious, they can also mean a serious neurological impairment or other potentially dangerous illness such as Meningitis.

How is it treated?

Rest and medication like acetaminophen are often recommended.  Your doctor might also recommend prescription drugs or stress-management techniques in the event of migraines. 

Where can I get more information?

HIVES

What Is It?

Hives are blisters appearing on the skin, usually linked to a virus, food allergy, or reaction to medication.  Hives themselves are not serious, though the underlying cause for them may be.

How is it treated?

Antihistamines help control the itching of hives.  Cool compresses may also help.  Your pediatrician may request a full work up to determine the cause of the outbreak, though in almost half of all cases, no definitive cause is found.  Discontinue foods which may be a trigger, such as peanuts and milk, until the child can be assessed.  Severe food allergies may require use of an Epipen.

Where can I get more information?

SORE THROAT

What Is It?

Common with colds and flu-like illnesses, sore throat is usually not serious and typically resolves on its own.  Other cases involve a bacterial infection, or strep throat, and require an antibiotic.

How is it treated?

Sore throats that accompany colds and the flu are treated with time, patience, and an occasional throat lozenge to help manage the symptom.  Some cases may be strep throat and necessitate further testing. If strep is documented, an oral antibiotic will be prescribed.

Where can I get more information?

VOMITING

What Is It?

Vomiting usually accompanies other illnesses, such as the flu.  The majority of cases result from a virus, and as such, resolve on their own without any medical intervention.  Severe cases may result in dehydration, which can be serious.

How is it treated?

Keep your child off solid foods, and encourage him to drink electrolyte solution or other clear fluids in small amounts every couple minutes.  If your child cannot keep fluids down, even in small amounts, call your pediatrician.

Where can I get more information?

Sometimes, it can't wait ...

Sometimes, you can safely and effectively treat your child at home. Other times, based on the symptoms and severity your child is displaying, urgent care may be necessary. Visit our When to Call Right Away page to help you determine whether your child needs to be seen in our office immediately, or whether further treatment at home may be warranted.