Childhood Asthma: Part I

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 01:15 pm

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children and is responsible for more school absences than any other childhood disease in this country. It is a disease with a long history and is surrounded by much misconception and fear. Asthma is constantly being studied in the medical community which leads to new methods of diagnosis and treatment.

What is Asthma?

 Asthma is a disease characterized by repeated, mostly reversible episodes of wheezing. The symptoms of asthma are the end result of a series of reactions occurring in the body set off by a variety of causes. These causes vary from true allergy to specific substances in the air, to emotions, to exercise, to plain old colds. The tendency to develop asthma may very well be an inborn trait present from birth but the final common pathway of observable events remains child with inhalerthe same: the development of small airway narrowing (bronchioles) with a decreased ability to move air in and out of the lungs, slowing down the normal process of exchanging oxygen from the air for carbon dioxide from the body through the lungs. The reasons for this narrowing are related to inflammation in those airways with the production of mucus, and muscle spasm surrounding the airways: all have the effect of narrowing these airways. Oxygen is needed by every cell in the body in order to carry on the process of metabolizing various products that we use every minute of every day.

When the inability to properly exchange these gases is recognized by the body, a series of changes immediately takes place to make the system work better. Because each breath brings in less oxygen, the rate of breathing increases so as to equalize the gas exchange rate. We see that as breathing faster in the child with an asthmatic attack. Since the air that does get in and out must go though narrower airways, a person having an asthma attack must use accessory muscles (such as abdominal and even neck muscles) to help breath, and we see that as working harder to breath, and may even hear it as a whistling sound as the air is forced through narrow spaces (wheezing). Cough is produced as a reflex to the various changes in the airways. As the lack of gas exchange progresses there are further changes that can lead to failure of the lungs to do any of the work.

Needless to say, it is important to recognize the symptoms of asthma and treat vigorously.

How to recognize asthma

Many children will have wheezing during the first two years of life and this is usually part of a viral respiratory infection. This child will usually not have wheezing at any other times. A small percent of these children will develop true asthma over time but at this time it is difficult to tell who they will be. Many children outgrow this type of wheezing and therefore many physicians will withhold labeling a child with “asthma” until at least 2-3 years of age. There is also several other types of “asthma”. Some children with allergies develop wheezing secondary to exercise – or exercise induced asthma (especially in cold weather). Others might just have a persistent cough without wheezing for no apparent reason and might eventually be diagnosed with “cough variant asthma”.

What to do

If your child has already been diagnosed with asthma you will already know most of the information in this article. If your child has had a few previous episodes of “wheezing” or seems to be “wheezing” for the first time and your child’s breathing is not normal (remember the symptoms mentioned above), you will need to call your Doctor for further information and treatment.

What else can be done?

There are many ways to treat the symptoms of asthma and get these under control. There are also many ways to control and prevent the episodes of asthma and therefore the aim of treatment is to relieve and prevent the symptoms, allowing your child to be normally active and to enjoy all the activities of childhood without breathing problems. These treatments are very effective, and the well educated family unit blends with the medical home to produce excellent outcomes and many fewer episodes leading to sickness and missing school.

Note:  Childhood Asthma: Part II will deal more specifically with the diagnosis and treatment of asthma

How to Turn a Clean Home into a Healthy Home

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 01:16 pm

You’ve worked tirelessly to make your home a haven for the whole family. But did you know that even the tidiest of homes can play host to troublesome germs and allergens, which can lead to endless sniffles or the common cold?

“That’s because your hands are actually the dirtiest surface Clean and healthy homein your house, and you’re responsible for spreading those germs every time you touch the handles, faucets, railings, light switches and microwave buttons,” says cleaning expert Don Aslett, author of more than 40 home care books, including the best-selling Clutter’s Last Stand.

But not to worry: You can get rid of germs by staying on top of them. Here’s your master cleaning schedule for keeping germs at bay to ensure your family’s health. Print it out and post it on your fridge to use as a reminder.

  1. Kitchen and bathroom sinks and countertops
    How often: daily
    You touch the faucets in the kitchen each time you cook (and handle raw meat). And in the bathroom, you touch the faucets and countertops just about every time you go into the room. Sinks and drains in these two rooms are home to loads of bacteria, including E. coli.
    Spray the faucets, sinks and counters with an antibacterial spray. Let it sit (10 minutes is ideal to kill germs and bacteria), then wipe with a washable microfiber cloth, which is more sanitary than a sponge and traps more than a regular rag would, says Aslett.
  2. Clothes, bed linens, kitchen and bathroom towels, and bath mats
    How often: every three days
    Instead of letting laundry pile up, it’s healthier to do it every few days. This helps avoid mold growth in the hamper where moisture can get trapped from soiled clothes and linens. It also helps to get rid of dead skin cells that can become part of house dust and attract dust mites.
  3. Kitchen and bathroom floors, and the toilet seat
    How often: twice a week
    Believe it or not, there are more germs on the bathroom floor than on the toilet seat. That’s because flushing enables microscopic germs to end up on the bathroom floor (and floors are cleaned much less often than toilets). It’s good to get into the habit of closing the lid before you flush. Additionally, when you clean, be sure to use a disinfectant to wipe down the seat and lid.
    In both the kitchen and the bathroom, mop floors with a bleach-based cleanser. In the kitchen, be sure to clean up food particles and grease, because they can attract unwanted and unhealthy pests.
  4. Carpets, cabinets, sofas and mattresses
    How often: weekly
    Dust mites can cause allergic reactions in some people, so it’s important to prevent exposure as much as possible. Dust mites feed on dead skin cells (yours and your pet’s), which makes mattresses and pillows some of their favorite hiding places. Protect yourself by wrapping your mattress with a dust-mite-proof cover and vacuum, or wash pillows weekly. If you can live without a feather pillow, switch to one with synthetic material, which is less likely to attract dust mites.
    Common household dust doesn’t have germs in it since it lacks the moisture that germs require, but it does harbor allergens. Vacuum carpets, soft furnishings and bookshelves weekly (two to three times a week if you have pets) using a machine equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Follow with an antibacterial spray to wipe down all hard surfaces.
  5. Tubs, shower stalls and trash cans
    How often: weekly
    Bathing removes germs and viruses from your body, yes, but not all of them die down the drain. In fact, bacteria thrives in moist environments. Use a disinfecting cleanser once a week to wash the sides and floor of the tub and shower stall and the inside of trash cans. Dry the surfaces with a towel, or leave the door or curtain to the shower open to air-dry.
  6. Refrigerator and other appliances
    How often: weekly
    Clean out the fridge before you go grocery shopping and toss spoiled food and leftovers that have been there for more than a couple of days. Then give all major appliances, including the handles and buttons, a healthy scrub with soap and water or disinfectant spray.




The Happy Visit: A Child’s First Trip to the Dentist

Last updated on July 5th, 2017 at 10:30 pm

You want your child’s first experience at the dentist to be a positive one no matter what age they are. A child going to the dentist for the first time is often a handful of anxieties. Any dentist or hygienist using the right techniques can transform the most terrified child into a cooperative patient who is no longer afraid – a child who will leave the office with a smile on his face.

The American Dental Association or (ADA) recommends that you schedule your child’s first appointment with the dentist after their first Make it Funbaby tooth erupts. These early visits are encouraged between 12-18 months of age for several reasons. Educating mom and dad on proper nutrition and dental hygiene for their kids is a big part of that. All children should be socialized into the dental setting with what we call “happy visits” beginning by age two. This no-stress visit would be tailored to the child’s level of maturity and self-confidence. A ride in the “cool dentist chair”, playing with the air-water hand piece, and seeing a big sister do all this are all steps to successful rapport building even with the tiniest of patients.

Some tips for a good first dental visit:

  • First and foremost, pick a dentist that has a good reputation for working with kids. Some dentists specialize in pediatric dentistry but many family dentists will also be able to meet both you and your child’s needs.
  • Secondly, if you decide to bring your child to the dentist at the age of one, try not to make a big deal about the visit. They can sit on your lap and you can comfort them as you would at any doctor’s appointment.
  • Thirdly, your child may not remember their first visit to the dentist if they were a baby or toddler. We find a great way to help kids adjust is to bring them with you while you have your teeth cleaned and examined. They will be able to observe what the hygienist and the dentist does in your mouth. Allow them the opportunity to ask questions during your appointment.
  • Another way you can help your child adjust is to talk about what a dentist does. Using things such as a small mirror at home to look in their mouth and count their teeth helps make them feel more comfortable when the dentist does it.
  • Leading up to their first appointment, encourage your child to brush their teeth letting them know that their dentist will be excited to see nice clean teeth at their appointment. Tell your child how great their smile is and how their dentist wants to see them smile.
  • Stay away from using phrases such as “Don’t worry, they won’t hurt you”. This places the idea in your child’s mind that it could hurt. Keep things low key and easy going. Kids also tend to do better with morning appointments rather then afternoon.

In the end, your goal is to create a non threatening environment for your child’s first experience at the dentist. You want to help them be excited about taking good care of their teeth which will in turn help them take better care of their whole body.

You’re Invited

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 01:16 pm

I’m a paramedic and I invite you to put me out of business. And while you are at it to put a lot of emergency room doctors and nurses out of business as well.  Here’s how:

  • The very first time you put your child in a car- home from the hospital, have him or her in an age appropriate car seat.
  • As your child grows, switch to an appropriate booster. And your little one always sees Mom and Dad, and the grandparents and siblings in seatbelts- always.Keeping them safe
  • Your child never sees your drive under the influence and never sees you text and drive- never.
  • You build a fence around your pool and teach your children to swim and to never swim alone.
  • Your child is taught its cool to wear a helmet while learning to ride a bike and long after- same with skates and roller blades.
  • You teach and practice good nutrition- healthy eating introducing a variety of different foods.
  • You exercise, ride or walk, play golf or tennis, canoe or ski. You teach your child that exercise is as fun- often better than a life of only TV and video games.
  • You don’t smoke and don’t allow smokers around your kids.\You talk to your kids about the internet and internet safety. You get to know your child’s friends.
  • You learn and teach appropriate stress management that does not involve alcohol, drugs or overindulging in food.

You teach that peace is preferred to fighting and love- especially of oneself – is the greatest gift of all.

Wii helps special needs kids get exercise

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 01:18 pm

Wii BoxingVideo games get a bad rap from most experts, but now there may be a few reasons to let your kids play Wii.  A recent study from the University of Oklahoma showed that active video games like Wii boxing or Dance Dance Revolution get kids as active as if they were taking a walk.  Plus in many parts of the country  most playgrounds – even the universally accessible ones – are just too hot to visit in the summer once it gets near lunch time.

Britt Collins, an occupational therapist, has come out in support of the Wii gaming system as a form of exercise for special needs kids. Britt told the June 2010 issue of Parents magazine that the Wii can help special needs children elevate their heart rate while also working on skills such as timing and visual and motor coordination.

Britt’s top picks for the Wii are:

Wii Sports – a child in a wheelchair can bowl or swing a virtual baseball bat with one arm.

Wii Fit – standing alone or with support, a child can master challenges like heading a soccer ball

We Ski – standing or sitting on a Wii balance board and shifting their weight helps build core strength and upper/lower body coordination

Raving Rabbids – combines the balance board with controllers and helps perceptual skills
Britt Collins is the cocreator of the DVD series TRP Wellness, which includes her video OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY FOR CHILDREN WITH AUTISM, SPECIAL NEEDS & TYPICAL with Britt Collins.

For Dads…

Last updated on March 3rd, 2018 at 01:18 pm

I’ve enjoyed and been impressed with the commercials from different celebrities including President Obama for Fatherhood.gov. Their theme is “the To fatherhood...and making every second countsmallest moments can have the biggest impact on a child’s life.” What does this have to do with being a medic? Same as being a doctor, a lawyer or an Indian chief. We all likely spend too much time on our careers, working long hours and making huge sacrifices. As dad’s its important to remember and easy to forget that for every hour we work- someone else shares our loss. And as fathers we never sacrifice alone.

I grew up with the Harry Chapin Song, Cats In The Cradle which cautions in its lyrics, “My Child arrived just the other day, he came to the world in the usual way. But there were planes to catch and bills to pay.”

As I get older, I do look back and and ask myself how I did. As this year’s Father’s day approaches don’t sit back and wait for ties and BBQ gadgets but also take the time to celebrate your children on this very special day. There does come a time when they are grown, a time when your children have jobs and careers and families of their own. Never stop being a Dad- its an honor and a privilege.

Check out : www.fatherhood.gov– all the good TV spots – great resources too.