How Dangerous is RSV for Children?

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Respiratory syncytial virus, more commonly known as RSV, can very easily be confused for a cold. If a child wakes up in the night with a cough, fever, stuffy nose and crankiness, it’s not unusual for a parent to diagnose this as just another cold. However, an estimated 57,000 children under the age of five are hospitalized annually due to an RSV infection, making it imperative you know the difference between RSV and the common cold.

WHO’S AT RISK?

For most infants and children, RSV will do no more than produce symptoms of the common cold. But for very young infants, children with chronic lung or heart disease, children with a weakened immune system and children with neuromuscular disorders, RSV can turn into bronchiolitis or even pneumonia.

EARLY SYMPTOMS

It’s crucial to catch RSV symptoms as early as possible in an effort to minimize effects. Early symptoms of RSV include runny nose, decrease in appetite and a cough that could lead to wheezing.

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TREATING RSV

If your child has contracted RSV, there are a few things you can do to help him or her recover quickly. Make sure your child is staying hydrated first and foremost. Have your child blow their nose regularly and give him or her pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen when needed. (It’s important you don’t give your child aspirin as it’s been linked to several different diseases.) If your child is unable to blow his or her nose, the most effective treatment is a nasal saline irrigation and suction. Finally, a cool-mist vaporizer can help your child breathe better during the dry winter months.

PREVENTING RSV

If your child is at a heightened risk for RSV, there are a few things you can do to keep him or healthy, especially during the fall, winter and early spring when RSV is most common.

  • Have your child wash his or her hands regularly. Proper hand washing lasts 20 seconds and includes warm water and soap.
  • Avoid being in close contact with sick people. RSV is extremely contagious, so telling your child to not share utensils or eat after other children is very important.
  • Clean all surfaces in your home regularly. This includes objects that are touched regularly such as toys, doorknobs, etc.

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If you believe your child is suffering from RSV, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have 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.

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How To Avoid 3 Common Illnesses This Winter

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Each year as the weather cools down, the number of illness increases. There are certain illnesses that peak during the winter months, including the flu, ear infections and bronchiolitis. To keep from catching these widespread illnesses, there are several things you can do.

  1. Seasonal Flu: Flu season begins as early as the fall and continues through May, with January and February as the worst two months for the sickness. Because the flu is so easily spread from one person to another, it’s one of the hardest illnesses to avoid. In fact, as many as 20% of the population will be affected by the flu annually. The illness, which is spread by coughing, sneezing and even just talking, can be prevented by regular hand washing, avoiding eating after others and constant cleaning of regularly-touched surfaces
  2. Ear Infection: As a result of changes in climate, ear infections are most common during the winter months. Caused by bacteria that are often accompanied by a sore throat, cold or other respiratory infection, an ear infection occurs when fluid builds up behind the eardrum. While an ear infection is difficult to prevent, your child can greatly reduce his or her risk of coming down with one by washing hands frequently, getting vaccinated every year and staying away from second-hand smoke.
  3. Bronchiolitis: Mostly impacting children under the age of two, bronchiolitis is a result of swelling and mucus buildup within the smallest lung air passages. Typically, bronchiolitis is contagious when your child comes in direct contact with fluids of an infected person. Teaching your child to wash his or her hands frequently—along with disinfecting regularly touched items—can make a huge difference in your child’s health this winter.

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If your child has managed to come down with an illness this winter, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have 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.

Promoting Healthy Digestion in Your Little One

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If your child seems to have an unhappy belly, look more closely at the balance of fiber, fluid and exercise in his/her daily regimen. Children need these three essentials in their diet in order to promote a healthy digestive system. It may not be simple to find something they like in all categories, but there are some great options to persuade them in the nutritious direction.

The average child, depending on age, needs between 19-38 grams of fiber per day. This can be found in whole wheat bread or English muffins, baked potatoes (with skin), apples and pear (with peels) or berries with seeds, especially raspberries. If your child is constipated, then avoid white bread, cheeses and rice cereal.

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This fiber intake needs to be matched with healthy amounts of water, plus a daily allotment of milk. Without fluid, fiber becomes clogged inside the body. The majority of liquid consumed by your little one each day should be water. Four ounces of juice is recommended for toddlers and six to eight ounces of juice for school-age children.

Exercise is the final key factor in ensuring a healthy digestive track for young children. Encouraging 60-90 minutes of play each day will help keep their digestive systems running smoothly. Just remember to keep up with how often they use the restroom while active. Children “holding it in” can lead to extra constipation issues.

For a reference scale on how much fiber your child should be eating each day, check out Super Kids Nutrition.

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For more health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care is a kid-friendly medical facility dedicated to providing children the best possible care. We have 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.

Identifying Type 2 Diabetes In Children

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According to the CDC, more than 208,000 under the age of 20 have been diagnosed with diabetes. Doctors used to be under the impression that children could only get type 1 diabetes—also known as juvenile diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes, which is linked to those who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes or have a problem called insulin resistance, has become a growing issue among children. Before you can identify type 2 diabetes in children, it’s important to know what it is.

WHAT IS TYPE 2 DIABETES

When you eat a carbohydrate, it is broken down by your body and turned into a type of sugar called glucose. In order to keep the glucose moving from your blood into your cells (where it can be used for fuel), your pancreas creates a hormone called insulin.

When someone has type 2 diabetes, the cells in their body don’t respond to insulin, causing the glucose to build up in their bloodstream. This is also known as insulin resistance. Eventually, the sugar levels become too high for the body to handle.

WHAT CAUSES TYPE 2 DIABETES

When someone is overweight, their risk of type 2 diabetes increases by double. In the United States, nearly 1 out of every 3 children is overweight, which has caused the number of type 2 diabetes cases to increase as well. Unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and family history of obesity are all factors that contribute to diabetes.

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SYMPTOMS OF TYPE 2 DIABETES

While symptoms may not be noticeable at first, eventually, someone with type 2 diabetes will experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Hungry or thirsty a lot, even after eating
  • Dry mouth
  • Peeing a lot
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Heavy breathing
  • Slow healing of sores or cuts
  • Itchy skin
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet

TREATING TYPE 2 DIABETES

If you believe your child has type 2 diabetes, it’s important to get him or her to the doctor immediately. A doctor will test your child’s blood sugar for diabetes. If the results come back positive, they may also test to see if it’s type 1 or type 2.

If your child is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the doctor will likely suggest lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. A medication called metformin may also be recommended. Regular doctor visits will be necessary to ensure your child’s numbers stay consistent.

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If you believe your child is suffering from diabetes symptoms, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have 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.

Choosing Safe Toys

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Millions of toys are out there, and hundreds of new ones hit the stores each year. Toys are supposed to be fun and are an important part of any child’s development. But each year, scores of kids are treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for toys:

  • Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Stuffed toys should be washable.
  • Painted toys should be covered with lead-free paint.
  • Art materials should say nontoxic.
  • Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Steer clear of older toys, even hand-me-downs from friends and family. Those toys might have sentimental value and are certainly cost-effective, but they may not meet current safety standards and may be so worn from play that they can break and become hazardous.

And make sure a toy isn’t too loud for your child. The noise of some rattles, squeak toys, and musical or electronic toys can be as loud as a car horn — even louder if a child holds it directly to the ears — and can contribute to hearing damage.

The right toys at the right ages

Always read labels to make sure a toy is appropriate for a child’s age. Guidelines published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and other groups can help you make those buying decisions. Still, use your own best judgment — and consider your child’s temperament, habits and behavior whenever you buy a new toy.

You may think that a child who’s advanced in comparison to peers can handle toys meant for older kids. But the age levels for toys are determined by safety factors, not intelligence or maturity.

Here are some age-specific guidelines to keep in mind:

For infants, toddlers, and preschoolers

  • Toys should be large enough — at least 1¼ inches (3 centimeters) in diameter and 2¼ inches (6 centimeters) in length — so that they can’t be swallowed or lodged in the windpipe. A small-parts tester, or choke tube, can determine if a toy is too small. These tubes are designed to be about the same diameter as a child’s windpipe. If an object fits inside the tube, then it’s too small for a young child. If you can’t find a choke tube, a toilet paper roll can be used for the same purpose.
  • Avoid marbles, coins, balls, and games with balls that are 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) in diameter or less because they can become lodged in the throat above the windpipe and restrict breathing.
  • Battery-operated toys should have battery cases that secure with screws so that kids cannot pry them open. Batteries and battery fluid pose serious risks, including choking, internal bleeding, and chemical burns.
  • When checking a toy for a baby or toddler, make sure it’s unbreakable and strong enough to withstand chewing. Also, make sure it doesn’t have:
    • sharp ends or small parts like eyes, wheels, or buttons that can be pulled loose
    • small ends that can extend into the back of the mouth
    • strings longer than 7 inches (18 centimeters)
    • parts that could become pinch points for small fingers
  • Most riding toys can be used once a child is able to sit up well while unsupported – but check with the manufacturer’s recommendation. Riding toys like rocking horses and wagons should come with safety harnesses or straps and be stable and secure enough to prevent tipping.
  • Stuffed animals and other toys that are sold or given away at carnivals, fairs and in vending machines are not required to meet safety standards. Check carnival toys carefully for loose parts and sharp edges before giving them to your infant.

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For grade-schoolers

  • Bicycles, scooters, skateboards and inline skates should never be used without helmets that meet current safety standards and other recommended safety gear, like hand, wrist and shin guards. Look for CPSC or Snell certification on the labels.
  • Nets should be well constructed and firmly attached to the rim so that they don’t become strangulation hazards.
  • Toy darts or arrows should have soft tips or suction cups at the end, not hard points.
  • Toy guns should be brightly colored so they cannot be mistaken for real weapons, and kids should be taught to never point darts, arrows or guns at anyone.
  • BB guns or pellet rifles should not be given to kids under the age of 16.
  • Electric toys should be labeled UL, meaning they meet safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratories.

Keeping toys safe at home

After you’ve bought safe toys, it’s also important to make sure kids know how to use them. The best way to do this is by supervising play. Playing with your kids teaches them how to play safely while having fun!

Parents should:

  • Teach kids to put toys away.
  • Check toys regularly to make sure that they aren’t broken or unusable:
    • Wooden toys shouldn’t have splinters.
    • Bikes and outdoor toys shouldn’t have rust.
    • Stuffed toys shouldn’t have broken seams or exposed removable parts.
  • Throw away broken toys or repair them right away.
  • Store outdoor toys when they’re not in use so that they are not exposed to rain or snow.

And be sure to keep toys clean. Some plastic toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher, but read the manufacturer’s directions first. Another option is to mix antibacterial soap or a mild dishwashing detergent with hot water in a spray bottle and use it to clean toys, rinsing them afterward.

Reporting unsafe toys

Check the CPSC website for the latest information about toy recalls or call their hotline at (800) 638-CPSC to report a toy you think is unsafe. If you have any doubt about a toy’s safety, err on the side of caution and do not allow your child to play with it.

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For more fun holiday and health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care is a kid-friendly medical facility dedicated to providing children the best possible care. We have 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.

This content originally appeared on KidsHealth.org

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.

Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Side Dishes

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On Thanksgiving Day, most people think of overeating. However, if you have a picky child, they could do the opposite. Some of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes like green bean casserole, potato salad and stuffing may not be appetizing to a young child. By taking the time to prepare a few kid-friendly dishes, you increase the chance your child will enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

GET THE KIDS INVOLVED

When thinking through what dishes your child would enjoy this Thanksgiving, get him or her involved in the process. If your child is included in the cooking process, he or she is much more likely to eat the dish. This is also a great way to connect with your child and teach them the value of a healthy (yet tasty) side dish.

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SURVEY YOUR CURRENT DISHES

Some of the dishes you already make on Thanksgiving may be turned into kid-friendly dishes with just a few slight tweaks. For instance, a standard broccoli dish can be morphed into cheesy rice with broccoli with very few additional steps and your child will likely go crazy for it. Brussels sprouts are another example. By themselves, they are not that appetizing to children. However, throw in some cranberries and a balsamic glaze and they take on an entirely different taste.

DON’T OVERTHINK IT

Many parents can get too worried their child won’t eat a single thing on the table. There is so much going on Thanksgiving Day, it shouldn’t be an extra stress on you to find dishes for your child to eat. Sit down before you create your grocery list and learn what your child may want to add to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. You never know—they may add a dish they becomes a staple for years to come! Here is a list of kid-friendly Thanksgiving side dishes that may be helpful.

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For more fun holiday and health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care is a kid-friendly medical facility dedicated to providing children the best possible care. We have 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.

Why is hand-washing so important?

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Kids don’t always listen when parents tell them to wash their hands before eating, after using the bathroom or when they come inside from playing. But it’s a message worth repeating: Hand-washing is by far the best way to keep kids from getting sick and prevent the spread of germs.

How do germs spread?

Germs can spread many ways, including:

  • touching dirty hands
  • changing dirty diapers
  • through contaminated water and food
  • through droplets in the air released during a cough or sneeze
  • on contaminated surfaces
  • through contact with a sick person’s body fluids

When kids come into contact with germs, they can become infected just by touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Once they’re infected, it’s usually just a matter of time before the whole family comes down with the same illness.

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How do clean hands help health?

Good hand-washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses – from the common cold to more serious infections, such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, the flu, hepatitis A and many types of diarrhea.

What’s the best way to wash hands?

Here’s how to scrub those germs away. Teach this to your kids, or wash your hands together often so they learn how important this good habit is:

  1. Wash your hands in warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot for little hands.
  2. Use soap and lather up for about 20 seconds. Antibacterial soap isn’t necessary – any soap will do.
  3. Make sure you get in between the fingers and under the nails where germs like to hang out. And don’t forget the wrists!
  4. Rinse and dry well with a clean towel.

When should kids wash their hands?

To stop the spread of germs in your family, make regular hand washing a rule for everyone, especially:

  • Before eating and cooking
  • After using the bathroom
  • After cleaning around the house
  • After touching animals, including family pets
  • Before and after visiting or taking care of any sick friends or relatives
  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After being outside (playing, gardening, walking the dog, etc.)

Don’t underestimate the power of hand-washing! The few seconds you spend at the sink could save you trips to the doctor’s office.

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For more health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care is a kid-friendly medical facility dedicated to providing children the best possible care.

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.