Health & Well-being
Any parent who's sat up through the night with a sick child knows relieving their symptoms is only part of your mission. Easing the discomforts of cold and flu for your little one is a No. 1 priority.
"Watching your child suffer, even if it's from something as minor as a nose that's sore and chapped from repeated blowing, is a terrible feeling for any parent," says Dr. Tanya Remer Altman, a mother and pediatrician who is a best-selling author and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Relieving the discomforts related to cold and flu not only helps kids feel better, it also reduces stresses for their parents."
Dr. Tanya, as she's known to her patients and the millions who've seen her on the Today Show or who follow her blog, offers some tips to help parents make children feel more comfortable while fighting a cold or the flu:
• Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months and older, but it's not unusual for children to fear a shot. Ask your pediatrician about giving your child the flu vaccine in a nasal spray form. It's available for children 2 and older, and provides the same protection and safety as the traditional flu shot.
• Your mother probably swore by chicken soup and she was on to something. Serving sick children chicken soup not only gives them the benefit of nourishment while their bodies are fighting a virus, studies show chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties as well. Plus, it's a popular comfort food that most kids love.
• Sore, chapped noses add to the discomfort of having a cold. Tissues with added lotion, like Puffs Plus with Lotion, can help prevent chapping from frequent nose blowing and wiping. The strong, lotion-filled tissues can help children get more out of their nose blowing, ensuring they're confident they can blow without getting anything "icky" on their little hands. You can also use petroleum jelly or unscented ointment to soothe the irritation and discomfort.
• Another way to help relieve a stuffy nose is to try a few drops of nasal saline and gentle suctioning. A cool mist humidifier and a liberal application of Vicks on children older than 2 can also help, especially at night when lying down can make a child feel stuffy. Remember, however, never to use Vicks on children younger than 2 years old; it may actually increase the mucus in their airways.
• Frequent hand-washing is important to prevent the spread of viruses. Yet washing your hands a lot, especially in cold weather, can leave them dry, sore and cracked. Teach your children to wash their hands while singing "Wash, wash, wash your hands, wash them every day. Wash them with water and wash them with soap to wash the germs away" to the tune of "Row, row, row your boat." Then follow up with a soothing lotion. You can find many fragrance-free varieties specially formulated for children.
• When your child's throat is sore, he might be unwilling to eat or drink much. Offer a sugar-free fruit Popsicle instead. The coolness can help ease a sore throat, your child will get some hydration from the frozen juice and he'll feel like he's getting a special treat.
• Make trips to the doctor's office fun by bringing a book or toy to keep your child occupied, and a snack in case she gets hungry. A special reward or treat after the visit is also a nice tradition.
Finally, don't overlook your own mental comfort as well; call the doctor if you feel your child's symptoms are worrisome. "Parents often tell me they thought about calling, but didn't want to be a bother," Dr. Tanya says. "Most pediatricians are parents too, and they would rather take a few minutes to reassure you that your child's cold symptoms will improve on their own than to not have you call about your sick child who really needs to be seen. Your pediatrician is there to help you, so if you feel something is important, pick up the phone and call."
– Source: ARA Content
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The Chatham County Health Department is now participating in the Planning for Healthy Babies (P4HB) program initiated by the Georgia Department of Community Health. P4HB will provide family planning services through the Georgia Medicaid program to women who previously did not qualify for Medicaid benefits. The focus of the program is to improve Georgia’s low birth weight and very low birth weight rates.
According to DCH, implementation of the P4HB program will impact Georgia’s families by:
“This is a wonderful program that will help provide services for the women who need it and simply cannot afford it,” said Cathy Schmid, R.N., Chatham County Health Department nurse manager.
Women must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for the program. Applications for enrollment are available online at planning4healthybabies.org and can also be picked up at the Chatham County Health Department.
For more information, visit dch.georgia.gov/p4hb or call 1-877-P4H-B101 or 1-877-744-2101.
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When it comes to germs and disease prevention, Dr. Ann Stewart-Akers says it's just a matter of time. That is, it's a matter of taking time for simple precautions that a lot of people let slide because they're in such a hurry.
A microbiologist and former researcher in the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine, Stewart-Akers is an assistant professor in the College of Health Professions at South University's Columbia, S.C., campus. She sees the start of cold and flu season as an opportunity to get people started with the practice of hygiene habits that are important all year round.
"Germs are everywhere," says Stewart-Akers. "Everything is contaminated." With nursing students going through healthcare training, she makes the point with a simple laboratory test for bacteria on paper money.
"We find bugs like staph, strep and E. coli. And these germs can cause illnesses of varying severity," she says.
"Initially, some students are kind of frightened. I point out that, of course, some germs make some people very sick, but just a few simple steps can prevent a lot of problems. Certainly nurses can't be afraid to touch their patients."
As Stewart-Akers sees it, we get too busy and distracted to practice basic preventive measures that people have known about for years. She believes in hand washing done the old-fashioned way. "Slow down, lather up with soap and warm water, and wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing 'Happy Birthday' twice," she advises.
And what if you skip the soap? That is not always a bad idea, according to Stewart-Akers. "Rubbing your hands together under running water, and rubbing each surface of your fingers and hands, is what removes the germs," she explains. "The simpler the soap, the less you expect the soap to do for you and the more responsibility you take for cleanliness."
Eating lunch at your desk might also be hazardous to your health, according to Stewart-Akers. "We work through lunch, eating at our desks where we have stacks of papers and mail that have passed through many hands, and backpacks or satchels that have been who-knows-where. Maybe we wash our hands before we eat – maybe – but how often do we clean our office desktops just like we are supposed to do the kitchen countertop?" Her advice is take time to clean your work surface and phone regularly with a sanitizing wipe or antibacterial cleaner, and wash your hands before and after you eat.
Another of Stewart-Akers' concerns is that many people won't take time off from work when they're sick, or when their children are sick, instead hiring a babysitter to stay with them. "This puts another person at risk for infection," she says.
Stewart-Akers says she hopes that instead of worrying about germs, people will simply make time for routine cleanliness. "People in health professions can't afford to skip steps to reduce the risk of infection. Cleanliness has to be a habit for them -- and it's not any different for all the rest of us. Now is a good time to start taking more time for this, but cleanliness is never out of season."
– Source: ARA Content
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With state and federal budgets stretched thin, and cost-cutting a primary motivator for insurers, programs providing healthcare services for our tiniest citizens – especially premature infants – are becoming more limited and restrictive. But, being armed with the right information can help parents best navigate what health issues to watch out for and how to best protect their family in this rationing environment and, in particular, during this time of year.
As we approach the winter season, and seasonal viral activity escalates, it’s important that parents of preemies understand their baby’s health risks and ensure they have access to a variety of therapeutic options to help keep them healthy. For example, in addition to colds and the flu, there is another common virus that can be especially serious for the premature infant population: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV is a common, seasonal and easily spread virus that infects nearly all children by their second birthday. Most kids just get moderate to severe cold-like symptoms; however, high-risk infants may get severe RSV disease. RSV disease is the most common cause of death due to a virus in children under 5 years of age and is responsible for an estimated 125,000 infant hospitalizations annually in the United States.
There are simple ways to help protect your baby from viruses such as RSV, including washing hands and bedding frequently, and limiting your baby’s exposure to large groups and environmental tobacco smoke. And, of course, speak with your child’s healthcare provider about any concerns and other prevention options.
In particular, preemies and other vulnerable babies have been facing additional challenges because of healthcare system constraints, which are creating more restrictive reimbursement policies and forcing program cuts that limit access to care. Across the country, for example, 45 percent of local health departments experienced budget cuts in 2009, which led to nearly a quarter of these departments reducing funding for maternal and child health programs, such as Medicaid’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
Private and public insurers alike are also creating barriers to care by using increasingly restrictive care guidelines to drive their eligibility decisions. For example, in 2009 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued more restrictive guidelines for RSV emphasizing cost issues over new or existing clinical data.
“One of the biggest challenges to ensure infants have access to the proper care they need is that insurers are adopting guidelines without considering all available clinical evidence, rather than analyzing high-risk infants on a case-by-case basis under the direction of the child’s physician,” said Dr. Mitch Goldstein, president of the National Perinatal Association.
All babies deserve equal access to preventive care, and physicians, nurses, payers and parents must work together to protect them. Go to www.preemievoices.com or www.nationalperinatal.org for more information on preemies and infant health. To learn more about the signs, symptoms and risk factors of RSV disease, as well as additional prevention tips, visit www.rsvprotection.com.
– Source: Family Features
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A visit with your doctor is the best way to determine whether you have a cold or an allergy. While allergy symptoms and cold symptoms are very similar, there are some signs to look for if you want to know the difference.
1. Take a look at the color of your nasal discharge, mucus or saliva. Both allergies and colds cause a runny nose, but for cold sufferers, the discharge is usually green or brown -- which is a sign of an infection. "If the mucous is clear – it is probably an allergy," says Dr. Carl Wurster, chair, Allied Health Department, at Brown Mackie College-Boise, Idaho. The allergy comes from an allergen, while the cold indicates exposure to a virus.
2. Allergy sufferers do not generally have to deal with body pain, but if you have a headache and feel lots of aches and pains, it's probably a cold. If you have a viral cold, you'll also experience fatigue and a severe sore throat. "A mild sore throat may accompany an allergy, but with a cold you could lose your voice and have hoarseness. It is rare to be hoarse with allergies and lose your voice," adds Wurster.
3. Check your calendar and keep track of how long you've been sneezing or feeling sick. A cold can last up to two weeks. Allergies are often seasonal, especially if the trigger comes from grass or tree pollen. "If your allergy comes from something inside your house like, mold or dust – the symptoms can be constant or come and go – depending on the exposure level to the indoor allergy source," says Wurster. "Allergy sufferers may also have nosebleeds because pollen gets deposited inside the front of nose which triggers the sneeze reflex. Sometimes allergy sufferers have a line across the tip if their nose and puffiness under their lower eyelids because of heparin (a substance naturally generated from the white cells of the body)," he says.
4. If your eyes, nose, throat or mouth itch, it's a sure bet that you are reacting to some kind of allergen which can come from pollen or even an allergen in the workplace or on a college campus. If your allergy stems from something in your workplace, some industries have set up "clean rooms," where employees wear "clean suits" in highly sterile rooms. Some employees feel claustrophobic in clean rooms, but people with allergies tend to like it.
"With allergies, you will run a low-grade fever of 100.1 or 100.2 degrees. With the viral or bacterial cold your temperature will be a degree higher – 103 or 104 degrees," says Wurster. Hay fever is the old term for allergies "because you get symptoms of a cold with a low-grade fever," Wurster says. The average person does not know whether their sickness is viral, bacterial or the result of an allergen.
"Allergy sufferers should consider using antihistamines at night [such as Benadryl]," Wurster says. "A cold will not respond to an antihistamine. Claritin and Afrin would be effective during the day because they don't cause drowsiness. Take a decongestant to prevent mucus from building up in your sinuses."
Not being able to sleep at night is another sign of an allergy. "You should elevate yourself on a bunch of pillows to get the drainage of fluid out of your head to help you fall asleep," says Wurster.
Wurster says there is one good thing about having allergies. "Allergy sufferers are genetically coordinated with high intelligence." He added that, "the peak incidence of allergies can be absent from the onset of puberty to the mid-20s, but can show up when the patient is in their 30s and late 40s."
For cold sufferers, the key is to visit your physician because you may need antibiotics. Try to avert getting a cold. "When it first starts, rinse your nose out with salt water four to five times a day. It can prevent a bacterial cold and treat sinus infections," he says.
"For some people with allergies, mucus gets backed up in their sinuses which serves as fertile ground for bacterial culture. What could have been a two- to three-day allergy can turn into sinusitis, bronchitis or a cold which includes congestion and the risk of an upper respiratory virus infection," says Wurster, who added, "It's important to visit your doctor to see if your lungs are clear.”
– Source: ARA Content
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