How Much Physical Activity Does Your Child Need?

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Less than half the children in the United States get the recommended amount of physical activity each day, with 91% percent consuming very poor diets. Because of this, more than 12 million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with obesity. That is one in every six children. In order to keep your child healthy and happy, it’s essential that he or she get enough physical activity. Below is information to help educate you on what qualifies as physical activity, how your child can benefit from it and how you can encourage your child to be less sedentary.

How Much Exercise Should Your Child Get Daily?

According to studies from the Department of Health and Human Services, children over the age of six should get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity each day. This hour should be filled with moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. Additionally, it is important that children participate muscle- and bone-strengthening activities at least three times a week. You should note that the 60 minutes do not have to be consecutive. Even if your child can only get 30 minutes here and another 30 minutes there, what’s important is that he or she gets 60 minutes total.

The Benefits Of Exercise For Children

Children who get regular physical activity enjoy a multitude of benefits including stronger muscles and bones, a leaner body, a reduced risk of childhood obesity, a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a lower risk of anxiety and a generally happier outlook on life. Children that exercise also tend to sleep better.

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Exercise And The Brain

Exercise is also essential for the development of your child’s motor skills. This then will play a role in your child’s coordination, self-confidence, socialization skills and academic performance. Additionally, a recent study showed that children who participated in an exercise group were better at “attentional inhibition.” This means the children were able to focus on the task at hand with the ability to toggle between the cognitive tasks they had been given.

What Counts As Physical Activity?

The activities that count towards your child’s daily exercise quota include common school-age activities. Playing on playground equipment and jumping rope are great options that check both the aerobic and strength recommendations. Another great option is organized sports like baseball, soccer and football.

If your child is not into sports, try getting creative. For children who are artistically inclined, consider a nature hike where he or she can collect foliage that can be used for a collage later. Perhaps your child prefers climbing. If so, try a nearby jungle gym or climbing wall.

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Introducing Your Child To Exercise

So how do you introduce your child to exercise? It depends on the age. What may work for a younger child might not be successful with a teenager.

5 Years Old And Under

Team sports are a great way for young children to get involved in exercise. At this age, it’s important for sports to be fun and not a competition. Sports like soccer, basketball and T-ball are excellent for children five and under.

Ages 6 To 8 Years Old

As children get older, their skills progress and activities like gymnastics and riding a bike become easier. This is a great time to expose your child to a variety of physical activities so they can determine what’s the best fit.

Ages 9 to 14 Years Old

This is the age range where children gain better hand-eye coordination. They also tend to become more competitive at this age, so it is OK to encourage competition, as long as it’s friendly. Discourage heavy weight lifting and encourage lighter strength training, such as stretchy tubes and bands.

Ages 15 And Up

At this age, children may begin to express interest in endurance activities, such as triathlons or marathons. It is important for your child to focus on proper training to avoid injury. Continue to encourage your child to be active, which will help build a healthy foundation for exercise moving forward.

Ways To Get Your Child Off The Couch

These days it’s easy for kids to become sedentary. Between television, smartphones, tablets and other devices, screen time has caused children to be much less active than in days past. If you’re worried your child is not getting enough physical activity, here some ways you encourage him or her to be less sedentary:

  • Limit the amount of time you allow your child to use media. This includes television, social media and video games.
  • Try to keep your child’s screen time to less than an hour a day for those 2 to 5 years old.
  • Don’t allow your child to keep any televisions, computers or video games in his or her bedroom. Screens should also be turned off during mealtimes.
  • Take your child to the playground.
  • Encourage your child to do something physical, such as ride a bike or play basketball outside, after school instead of watching TV or playing video games.
  • Lead by example. Don’t be afraid to engage in physical activity with your child when possible. Encourage your child to start a game of tag or offer to take him or her to the pool in the summer. Swimming is a great way for your child to get some aerobic activity in!

How To Raise A Fit Child

There is more to raising a fit child than simply making sure your child gets enough daily physical activity. By combining regular exercise with a healthy diet, your child can maintain a healthy lifestyle. Try to minimize the amount of processed foods your child takes in. When possible, opt for fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. If you are looking for healthy lunches that you can pack for your child, check out our post here.

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If you have questions or concerns about your child’s health, consider visiting your local Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. All six of our locations have board-certified pediatricians, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

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Can Genetics Affect Your Child’s Heart Health?

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It is a known statistic that heart disease is a leading cause of death for adults, but most do not realize there are several types of heart problems that affect children as well. Many of these problems are passed down from the previous generation. This type of condition is genetic.

A genetic medical condition is one that can be passed on from generation to generation. There are many types of heart disease that are considered to be genetic, including congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy, high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure. It is important to look at your child’s immediate family: father, mother and siblings.

Although there is nothing that can be done about the family history of your child, that does not mean or she is destined to suffer from heart disease. First off, it’s essential that you share your child’s family history with his or her doctor. Your child’s doctor can work with you to help minimize risk factors. He or she will likely recommend a heart-healthy diet, a regular exercise program and possibly even medication if needed.

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There are several different ways that heart disease can be diagnosed in children. If heart disease runs in your family, it’s important that a doctor test your child to see if he or she suffers from the disease too. Below are a few of the tests your child’s doctor may recommend (these are typically done at a cardiologist’s office):

  • Electrocardiogram: This is a very noninvasive way to check your child’s heart, focusing on potential rhythm problems. During this test, electrodes, which are connected to a computer, are placed on your child’s chest so the doctor can see how your child’s heart is beating.
  • Echocardiogram: This test is also very noninvasive and allows the doctor to see your child’s heart in motion. During an echocardiogram, an ultrasound produces images of your child’s heart so the doctor can check for any abnormalities in the heart muscles and valves.
  • Chest X-ray: An x-ray of the chest can help determine if your child’s heart is enlarged. This test can also allow the doctor to see if there is extra blood or fluid in your child’s lungs.
  • Cardiac Catheterization: During this test, a thin, flexible tube is inserted into a blood vessel in your child’s groin and moved into the heart. Typically this test is needed if the doctor notices a defect during the echocardiogram.

Prior to your child’s appointment, you should make a list of any signs and symptoms your child may be experiencing. Even if these symptoms are unrelated to heart disease, it’s important they are brought up. You should also make a list of any medication, vitamins or supplements that you (or the child’s mother) have been taking.

There are several types of heart defects and conditions that your child could be diagnosed with if cardiovascular disease runs in the family. Below are the types of genetic heart problems commonly affecting children and specifics on how they can be identified.

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Congenital Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease ranks as the most common birth defect in the United States. With an estimated 40,000 cases each year, CHD affects nearly 1 in 100 babies. Usually, CHD involves an issue with the heart muscle or valves, including narrowing of the aortic valve or defects in the wall that separates the left and right sides of the heart. Symptoms of congenital heart disease in children include rapid breathing, swelling in legs, abdomen and area around the eyes, shortness of breath and flared nostrils.

Arrhythmias

An abnormal rhythm of the heart, known as an arrhythmia, may appear in children in the form of a fast heart rate, a slow heart rate, long Q-T syndrome or Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Symptoms of a heart arrhythmia include weakness, fatigue, dizziness, fainting and difficulty feeding

Heart Murmurs

Most often, heart murmurs are a result of defective heart valves. Innocent heart murmurs, sounds made by the blood circulating through the chambers and valves of the heart, are common in children and are harmless. When your child’s doctor first hears the murmur, he or she will likely recommend additional testing to ensure the murmur is innocent. Some murmurs are an indication of a bigger problem with the heart in which case your child will be sent to a pediatric cardiologist who can recommend a treatment based on the determined problem.

High Blood Pressure

While most people assume high blood pressure (HBP) is only associated with adults, it can actually be linked to children and even babies. Aside from diet and weight, factors such as heart and kidney disease, as well as certain medications, can lead to HBP. Most children can maintain a healthy life by focusing on a heart-healthy diet, healthy weight and regular physical activity; however, medication can be used when needed.

Some children may need additional support if they are diagnosed with a medical condition such as heart disease. This diagnosis may cause your child to feel insecure about his or her abilities. By the time your child reaches school age, you may notice emotional difficulties develop as well. It is important that you communicate with your child and listen to his or her concerns. Talk with your child’s doctor about these concerns as he or she can recommend resources, like support groups or therapists, that may be able to help.

Even if your child is diagnosed with a heart condition, he or she can still live a very full, healthy life. In fact, certain defects have no long-term effect on the health of your child. In some instances, defects can even correct themselves as your child ages. Depending on your child’s condition, a doctor may recommend monitored exercise; however, many children are still able to participate in normal or near-normal activity.

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If your child has been diagnosed with a heart defect of any kind, it is important that he or she receives regular medical exams and blood tests. For a full medical evaluation, visit Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care to speak with a trained health expert. Designed exclusively to meet the needs of children, Medical City Children’s Hospital Urgent Care provides quick, efficient service so you can avoid the typical hassle of a doctor’s visit.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.

5 Ways To Prepare Your Child For Lab Work

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Even for adults, medical tests can be a scary thing. Children are even less likely to know what to expect, so their imaginations can run wild, often making the situation worse. Having your child’s lab work done at a kid-friendly location, such as Medical City Children’s Urgent Care, will help alleviate some of their apprehension. However, there are several other ways you can make sure your child is at ease the next time he or she needs to have some lab work done.

Communicate With Your Child

First and foremost, inform and communicate with your child about what services they are having done and what they can expect. Below is some basic information that may help alleviate your child’s fear.

What Are Lab Tests?

Used to sample blood, urine, other bodily fluids or tissue, lab tests are an excellent way to make sure you or your child is in the best health and that there are no underlying health concerns. While it is easy to see why lab work is needed, it can be difficult for children to understand. By educating yourself and your child on lab services, it may ease the unknown the next time lab work is recommended for either of you.

When Are They Needed?

Laboratory tests are most commonly ordered to determine if there are any health conditions that can be proactively diagnosed or any changes in you or your child’s health. If you or your child already suffer from a disease, lab tests can be the best way to come up with a treatment plan and to monitor the disease over time.

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How Are They Analyzed?

The time between when the test is done and when the results are given can be excruciating. It may be helpful to know what is being done while you wait. Once the sample is collected, the doctor’s office will send it to a lab where they will check to see what reactions the sample has to different substances. In some instances, the sample will be compared to you or your child’s previous tests to see if there are any changes.

What Factors Can Affect Results?

It’s important to note that there are some factors that can affect the results of lab work. Gender, age, race, medical history, diet, overall health and whether or not preparatory instructions are followed are all factors that may have an effect on the results of lab services. It is best to be straightforward with you or your child’s doctor so he or she knows what should be factored in. It is also important to follow prep instructions as closely as possible.

Schedule The Services Appropriately

In addition to informing your child, it’s also a good idea to schedule the services at a time when your child is less likely to be tired or hungry. If your child’s lab services don’t require fasting, make sure him or her eats beforehand to decrease any chance of lightheadedness. Your child should also drink plenty of water prior to the procedure to help blood flow. This will make it easier for the technician to find a vein in your child’s arm. Also, try not to schedule anything right before your child would typically nap.

Help Your Child Take Some Control

Giving your child some control of the situation will help immensely. In the days before the appointment, practice with your child. Have your child sit still, move around, then return to sitting still. This will help your child practice having control of a situation. During the procedure, have your child count to 3 whenever the technician is ready to draw blood. This will allow your child to dictate when the needle is placed in.

In some instances, you can also visit the lab or office prior to the procedure. By being familiar with the facility will help (you and) your child know exactly where to go when you arrive on the day of. You may even be able to meet the lab technicians that will perform the procedure so your child can see how friendly they are.

Prepare On The Way

Even on the drive to the doctor’s office, you can help calm your child down. Make sure you leave early so you aren’t rushed. Play music that your child enjoys on the car ride there. Incentivize your child by offering a fun activity after the services are complete.

Bring Something To Distract

Even adults often need to be distracted when it comes to bloodwork. When having blood drawn, try to keep your child’s eyes off the needle. Perhaps your child feels more secure with his or her favorite stuffed animals. If an electronic device, such as a tablet or mobile device, is the best way to keep your child distracted, consider handing it over.

Be Open With The Doctor

It’s not abnormal to be nervous about your child’s lab services as well. Before the appointment, talk with the doctor about any questions or concerns you may have. This can help give you some piece of mind going into the appointment so you can calm your child as needed.

Respect The Emotions Of Your Child

It’s important that you keep in mind that having blood drawn can be scary for people of any age. It’s okay to let your child know this is a normal fear. If your child is vocalizing that he or she is afraid, reassure him or her that everything will be okay. However, make sure you don’t embarrass your child or make him or her feel ashamed. No matter the outcome, it’s a good idea to give your child credit throughout the procedure so he or she sees the experience as a positive one.

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If your child is in need of lab services, consider the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care nearest you. With six locations, all staffed with board-certified pediatricians, we offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

Treating Asthma In Children

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Asthma affects nearly 7 million children in the United States. For reasons unknown, the condition is increasing each year, making it even more important that you can identify the signs of asthma in your child. Although most children have their first asthma symptoms by the age of five, it can occur at any age.

What is Asthma?

Asthma occurs when an environmental stimulus forces the bronchioles of the lungs to tighten. This causes your child to have difficulty moving air in and out of the lungs. Oftentimes this can result in wheezing and an increased breathing rate.

Identifying Asthma In Your Child

Symptoms of asthma can vary from child to child. Some children may experience multiple symptoms, while others will only show signs of one or two. If your child is suffering from asthma, he or she will experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Regular coughing spells that often occur during the night or during playtime
  • A chronic cough—this is often the only symptom
  • Fatigue during playtime
  • Shallow or rapid breathing
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Shortness or loss of breath
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles

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Is Your Child At Risk?

If your child suffers from any of the following, he or she may be at a higher risk of developing asthma:

  • Nasal allergies (such as hay fever) or eczema
  • Family history of asthma or allergies
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Low birth weight
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke (before or after birth)
  • Being raised in a low-income environment

How Is Asthma Treated?

If your child suffers from asthma or other respiratory issues, breathing treatments (also known as a nebulizer) can have great benefits. Nebulizers, which deliver liquid or aerosol medications that can help your child to breathe, are usually given via a mask or mouthpiece. So what exactly are the benefits of breathing treatments for children?

Medication Delivery

When a child needs mediation delivered directly to his or her lungs, a nebulizer is often used to deliver it. Systemic medications often take some time to pass through the gastrointestinal tract and into your child’s bloodstream. However, breathing treatments can help deliver medication directly to the respiratory tract.

Respiratory Problem Prevention

In some instances, nebulizers are used as prevention for respiratory problems. When taken on a daily basis, long-term bronchodilators can help keep the bronchial tubes open.

Few Side Effects

Unlike many other medications, nebulizer therapy creates fewer side effects than oral administration of the same medication. Oral medication often results in headaches, tremors and rapid heartbeat. Additionally, nebulizers can reduce side effects that are common to steroids, such as high blood pressure, high blood glucose and susceptibility to infection.

Easy To Use

Unlike inhalers, nebulizers require very little effort, with the treatment flowing continuously. Inhalers, on the other hand, require breathing in when the medication is released. Also, the new, smaller design of nebulizers makes them easy to carry around. Taking between five and 10 minutes to fully deliver a dose of medication, nebulizers are also fairly quick.

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Creating An Asthma Action Plan

It’s totally normal to be worried about your child if he or she suffers from asthma. However, having a game plan that you can quickly implement if your child begins to have an attack can help you rest easy. While the action plan provided below can be helpful, you should speak with your child’s doctor to create a plan that is right for him or her. It’s also a good idea to review the plan with your child’s doctor every six months in case your child’s condition or medication changes.

Most doctors rely on a simple system. This system incorporates colors—green, yellow and red—to help determine where your child stands at any time. When your child is in the green zone, the preferred zone, he or she is able to breath easily with no coughing or wheezing. In this zone, your child should be able to do his regular activities with no problems. There is no need to keep your child from his or her typical routine.

The yellow zone should serve as a “caution” sign. If your child is coughing, wheezing and suffering from shortness of breath, he or she should be placed in this zone. Other signs that your child should be in the yellow zone include difficulty doing normal activities, tightness of the chest and trouble sleeping through the night. You should contact your child’s doctor to see if any additional medications are recommended if your child is in the yellow zone.

The red zone is the danger zone. If your child experiences any signs or symptoms of this zone, you need to call the doctor immediately. In the red zone, your child will experience very shallow breathing with difficulty walking and talking. Your child’s nose will be open wide and his or her ribs will be showing. Don’t be afraid to call 911 if you believe your child is in the red zone.

If your child has asthma, it’s smart to keep a copy of your action plan handy. Teachers, daycare workers, coaches and other family member should have a copy of the plan as well. Whenever you have someone come babysit your child, be sure it’s the first thing you review with the sitter. You should also keep a copy on the refrigerator.

Can Your Child Outgrow Asthma?

Once someone’s airways become sensitive, they will be that way forever. However, on average, half of children that have been diagnosed with asthma experience a significant decrease in symptoms by the time they become a young adult. Some children who make a recovery will begin to experience symptoms again during adulthood. It is impossible to predict whether your child’s symptoms will decrease as he or she gets older.

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If your child suffers from asthma, consider visiting your local Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. With locations in Allen, Dallas, Flower Mound, Frisco, McKinney and Plano, our locations have child board-certified pediatricians, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

What Is A Normal Sleep Pattern For An Infant?

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New parents know how much of a struggle it can be to get their newborn baby to fall into a normal sleeping pattern. In fact, many newborns confuse their days and nights, thinking they should be awake at night and sleep throughout the day. So what is a normal sleep pattern for an infant and how do you get yours to follow that pattern?

WHAT IS A NEWBORN SLEEP PATTERN?

A newborn baby can sleep as many as 17 hours a day. Typically a newborn sleeps up to eight or nine hours during the daytime and around eight hours at night. A newborn normally won’t start to sleep through the night until he or she is three months old; however, this can vary depending on the child. In fact, some infants don’t sleep through the night until they’re almost one year old.

Most infants will want to eat every two or three hours depending on age and what he or she is being fed. It’s important that you communicate with your pediatrician to determine if and when you need to wake up for feedings

HOW TO HELP YOUR INFANT GET TO SLEEP

It is not easy for newborns to develop their own sleeping patterns. It’s even more difficult for them to fall asleep on their own. It is crucial for you to know the signs that your child is ready for sleep such as yawning, fussing, looking away and rubbing his or her eyes.

While many infants will fall asleep while breastfeeding, it’s important to wean them off this as they get older so it doesn’t turn into a pattern. When babies carry on this habit, they may begin to expect they can be in your arms as they go to sleep. It is recommended that after the newborn period, you allow your infant to become sleepy in your arms, transferring him or her to their bed while still awake.

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WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT SWADDLING YOUR BABY

Swaddling is a great way to make your baby feel safe and to help him or her fall asleep. In fact, special blankets have been designed just to make swaddling easier. However, there are certain precautions you need to take when swaddling your baby.

You should only swaddle your baby is he or she is under two months old or cannot roll over on his or her own. If a swaddled baby is able to roll over onto its stomach, he or she is at risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

WHEN TO BEGIN SLEEP TRAINING

It is recommended you begin sleep training when your baby is between 4 and 6 months old. Around 4 months of age is when babies start to develop normalcy in their sleep-wake cycle. When you are preparing your infant for sleep training, it’s crucial you start to introduce a bedtime routine. A good routine may include a warm bath, book reading and a lullaby. It’s also smart to choose a consistent bedtime. Sometime between 7 and 8 o’clock is ideal so your baby isn’t too tired.

HOW TO SUCCEED AT SLEEP TRAINING

Getting (you and) your baby to succeed at sleep training will take some time and practice. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure you and your baby are sleeping peaceful through the night in no time.

  • Prioritize sleep: It is imperative that children get enough sleep. Studies show that children who don’t get enough REM sleep are more likely to struggle with a short attention span as they get older. This causes them to have trouble learning as well.
  • Log your baby’s sleep: It is a good idea to keep track of how much your baby sleeps each night. This will allow you to notice patterns (i.e. if your baby wakes up at 7pm each night) and learn how to improve these problems.
  • Have your baby go down while still awake: After you have gone through your entire bedtime routine with the lights on, try putting your baby in the crib while he or she is sleepy, but still awake. Don’t be surprised if your baby does cry some at the beginning. It’s OK if you chose to sit next to the crib in a chair as your baby falls asleep.
  • Create a peaceful environment: One of the best ways to get your infant to sleep is to keep a cool and comfortable room. Keeping your temperature between 65 and 70 degrees is great. Also, if your baby’s room gets a lot of natural light, you may want to install room-darkening shades so he or she can fall asleep during nap times. This will also help prevent early wake-ups.
  • Be consistent: It isn’t easy to train your baby to follow a normal sleep pattern, but it’s important that you stay consistent. There will come a time when your baby cries in the middle of the night. It’s a good idea to go check on your infant to ensure he or she is OK then move outside the door to continue comforting him or her. If you are forced to go back to old habits due to travel or illness, it’s important to get back on track as soon as possible.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

If you notice any changes in your infant’s sleeping pattern you should contact a doctor. Changes in sleep pattern could indicate a problem like an ear infection or fever. You should note that when your child starts to go through growth spurts, he or she will also wake up more throughout the night for food.

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If you believe your child is suffering from an abnormal sleep pattern, rest assured that Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

 

 

What To Do If Your Child Gets An Ear Infection

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Ear infections affect most people at some point in their life, with children most susceptible. Five out of every six children experience an ear infection by age three. In fact, ear infections are the No. 1 reason parents bring their children to the doctor. Being able to determine when your child is fighting an ear infection is key to getting him or her treatment immediately.

IDENTIFYING AN EAR INFECTION

There are few things worse than knowing your infant is in pain, especially when you don’t know what’s wrong. When a baby is feeling bad, he or she will likely demonstrate a change in mood and begin crying more than usual. Unfortunately, this can indicate a number of problems, including an ear infection. To determine if your child is suffering from an ear infection, there are a few telltale signs to look out for.

  • Your baby is unable to swallow or chew or they pull away from the bottle after only a few sips
  • You notice yellow or whitish fluid draining from the ear
  • You detect an unpleasant smell coming from your child’s ear
  • Your child has difficulty sleeping or lying down
  • Your child is suffering from a low grade fever

You should note that ear infections are almost always preceded by a cold. You may notice that your child’s clear runny nose becomes yellow or green as the infection begins to set in.

Because ear infections result in a pus or fluid buildup behind the eardrum, it is not unusual for an infection to result in a ruptured eardrum. If your child’s eardrum has ruptured, you may notice blood or pus draining from the ear. It’s important that you don’t panic. Most ruptured eardrums heal on its on within a few weeks and do not require treatment.

WHEN IT COULD BE SOMETHING ELSE

Although your child may appear to have an ear infection with some of the symptoms above, it is unlikely if he or she has no cold symptoms. If your child is pulling at his or her ears, there is a chance they are simply teething or just like playing with their ears. In fact, babies under the age of one year cannot tell localize their ear pain, so it is impossible for them to identify where the pain is coming from.

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WHAT CAUSES AN EAR INFECTION?

When fluid builds up in the area behind your baby’s eardrum and becomes infected, it can result in an ear infection. Typically, fluid in this area leaves quickly via the Eustachian tube; however, if that tube is blocked, it can cause the fluid to get trapped. Because warm, wet places are often a breeding ground for germs, the fluid can easily get infected. Since babies have shorter Eustachian tubes, they are more likely to develop an infection than adults. As your child’s body works to fight off the infection, he or she may develop a fever.

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE

As soon as you think your child may have an ear infection, you should call a doctor. A doctor will use an instrument called an otoscope to look into your baby’s ear. If the doctor believes it’s an infection, he or she may use another instrument, a pneumatic otoscope, to further assess whether the ear is actually infected.

HOW AN EAR INFECTION IS TREATED

Once your child has been diagnosed with an ear infection, a doctor will likely prescribe a ten-day treatment that includes antibiotics. One of the most common antibiotics given for ear infections is amoxicillin (sometimes referred to as “the pink stuff”). Your child’s doctor may also prescribe anesthetic eardrops, which numb the eardrum to keep pain at bat for up to two hours.

If you have yet to get your child to the doctor but are certain he or she is suffering from an ear infection, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate pain until you can seek medical care. Try putting several drops of warm olive oil, vegetable oil or garlic oil (make sure the oil isn’t too hot!) and applying a warm washcloth to the ear. Pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also great to immediately relief pain. (It’s important you reference the dosage guide on the medication.)

If your child does not begin improving within 48-72 hours of antibiotic use, you should return to the doctor for a stronger antibiotic.

HOW TO PREVENT EAR INFECTIONS

Whether your child suffers from chronic ear infections or you simply want to take measures to prevent him or her getting an infection for the first time, below are some great ways to prevent (or at least lessen the severity) ear infections.

  • Boost your child’s immune system: It’s no surprise that feeding your child more fruits and vegetables will help him or her stave off infections. For tips on how to sneak veggies into your child’s food, check out this article.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke: Your baby’s nasal passage can be irritated by smoke leading to Eustachian tube dysfunction.
  • Keep your child’s nose clear: Any time your child gets a runny nose it’s important to keep the nose clear with saline nose drops, suctioning or even by using steam. This will help prevent viruses and bacteria from attaching in your child’s nose.
  • Wash hands frequently: This should go without saying. Washing your hands regularly will prevent germs from spreading to your child, keeping him or her at a lowered risk of catching a cold. Fewer colds also reduces the risk of ear infections.
  • Vaccinate your child: It’s important that you vaccinate your child against the flu each year. You should also have your child get the 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine that protects against additional types of bacterial infection.

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If you believe your child is suffering from an ear infection, rest assured that Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

 

When To Introduce Your Child To Technology

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These days it’s impossible to stay away from technology. While it has brought us so many incredible advances in medicine, quality of life, etc., technology has also robbed us of “real life” in many cases. For children growing up in today’s world, it’s important that you ease them into technology slowly. Remind them of the joys of reading, spending time with friends and doing anything that doesn’t involve staring at a screen. If you have a toddler who is already starting to grab at your smartphone or tablet, below are some best practices when introducing your child to technology.

DON’T START TOO EARLY

Many people make the mistake of handing their child an electronic device simply to keep them busy. While most toddlers love to push buttons and swipe the screen on tablets, it does not mean they are ready to actually play with a computer or phone. Most experts recommend you don’t introduce your child to technology until he or she is at least two years old or in preschool. It is crucial that your child experience and interact with the world instead of experiencing everything via a screen.

DON’T MAKE TECHNOLOGY A PACIFIER

It is so easy to absentmindedly hand over your tablet or phone to pacify your child. However, by doing this, you are allowing him or her to not only get what they want any time, but to treat technology as a go-to any time they are bored. It is OK to let your child play with your smart objects from time to time (for instance, on a long plane ride or while waiting in a doctor’s office), but this should be something you think about before doing. Make sure your child is utilizing apps that stimulate his or her brain and try not to allow more than 20 minutes of screen time at any time.

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ENCOURAGE SMART PROGRAMS

When your child is ready to handle technology, it’s a good idea that you find kid-friendly content for him or her to focus on. Do some research on the Internet to determine which programs are meant to be entertaining and which are educational. Many apps will actually include an age range that’s appropriate to make it easier for parents as well. Many iPad and iPhone apps can teach your child educational basics such as math, time, money, geography, music and art.

MAKE SURE YOU MONITOR USAGE

Especially important when your child is young, you should try to be as involved as possible with his or her technology use. Whenever your child downloads a new app or game, engage with your child and ask questions about the app’s content. Have fun with the experience and consider asking your child if you can have a turn on the game or play with the app. This will show your child you approve of kid-friendly apps. However, if you find your child has downloaded an app or game that is inappropriate, explain why you feel this way and delete the program yourself.

KEEP SCREEN TIME LIMITED

Experts suggest no more than half an hour of screen time per sitting for children ages four to five. As children age, that time may be upped to an hour. It’s important that your child does not exceed two hours per sitting. Of course, if he or she is using the device as a productivity tool, it is fine to extend screen time.

For older children, it’s often unavoidable that they spend hours staring at a screen each day. This can result in eye fatigue and strain. Doctors often recommend the 20-20-20 rule, which means that every 20 minutes you should spend 20 seconds staring at something 20 feet away.

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COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CHILD                

As your child gets older, he or she is at risk of cyber bullying. Sadly, cyber bullying can begin as young as middle school. Recent studies have shown that up to 25% of teens are cyber bullied at some point.

Cyber bullying can be very difficult to identify. For example, some kids have stated that fake accounts and websites have been made solely to bully them. It is so important to communicate with your child while he or she is young, stressing to them the importance of cyber behavior. You should also make sure your child feels comfortable talking to you if he or she feels harassed online.

If your child is being harassed online, you may notice he or she appears emotionally upset during or after using the Internet, is extremely protective of his or her digital life, seems withdrawn from friends and family or avoids group gatherings. If you suspect your child is a victim of cyber bullying, let your child know it’s not his or her fault and reassure him or her that you will figure out how to improve the situation together.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Children are prone to pick up on what their parents do. This is where you come into play. If you are glued to your smartphone all day every day, your child will pick up on those habits. Conversely, if you spend time throughout the day enjoying “real life” by reading, hanging out with friends and family, etc., your child will learn to do the same.

This is also a good time for you to assess your personal relationship with technology. Do you scroll through social media sites as you go to bed at night? Do you find yourself distracted during family events because you have to check your phone every few minutes?  Take this time to learn ways you can cut back on your technology use. Perhaps you can shut phones down after dinner each night or allow only an hour a day of computer time at home.

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For more general and health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog regularly. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.