Treating Common Bugs and Germs in Kids

The first day of school is right around the corner, and kids from different homes will once again congregate indoors in classrooms. This can be concerning for patents because of how quickly germs can spread between children. Common colds are very infectious because the viruses that cause them are respiratory, meaning they’re spread through the air and can infect anyone close by.  In this article, we will share how you can protect your children from common bugs, like those that cause the common cold, and also give signs of when you should contact a health professional for help. 

 

The Common Cold/ Flu

The common cold is caused by viruses, typically rhinovirus. The flu is caused by the influenza virus. Both are transmitted via exhaled droplets in the air. Though colds and flu are most prevalent in autumn and winter, people can be infected any time of the year. 

Signs & Symptoms of Cold and Flu: 

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Fever, body aches, and chills are specifically associated with the flu, in addition to the symptoms above.

Treatment

A cold can not be cured because it is caused by a virus. Unfortunately, with viral infections, you can only control the extent of the symptoms and try to help the body recover smoothly.  The recovery period is typically about one week. If the patient has a weakened immune system or asthma, recovery may take longer. Rest, lots of fluids and anti-inflammatory medications can help significantly with the recovery period.

When To Seek Help

If the symptoms last for more than 10 days, this is a sign that you or your child should see a physician. Professional care is especially needed if the symptoms have worsened over the normal period of 7-10 days. 

 

Protect Your Child and Yourself

You can reduce your risk of being infected with either a cold or influenza by:

  • Getting yourself and your family vaccinated against influenza every fall
  • Practicing social distancing when you or those around you are experiencing symptoms or have been infected
  • Washing your hands often
  • Avoiding touching your mouth, eyes, and nose unless you have just washed your hands. It is also important to wash your hands after eating, blowing your nose, or touching your mouth – especially if you are sick.

 

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is another viral infection caused by an Enterovirus. It is typically spread through direct contact with saliva, mucus or feces. However, it can also be spread through skin-to-skin contact as well as respiratory droplets. This virus is highly contagious and is usually mostly seen amongst 4-5 year old (preschool and kindergarten-aged) children, but parents can also become infected.

 

Signs & Symptoms

  • Fever 
  • Mouth sores
  • Skin rash 
  • Other minor symptoms include a sore throat, feeling unwell, and irritability

 

Treatment

Like the cold and flu, HFMD can not be cured because it is caused by a virus. However, the extent of symptoms can be controlled with anti-inflammatory medication, such as Tylenol, ro reduce fever and pain, along with working to prevent dehydration. This may be tough because of the painful mouth sores and sore throat but try to keep your child hydrated with lots of fluids. Aspirin should not be given to children for pain relief.  

When To Seek Help

If the symptoms last with no improvement for more than 10 days, you should consult with a healthcare provider. If your child is less than 12 months old and is experiencing symptoms, a clinician should be consulted immediately. 

 

Protect Your Child and Yourself

Infection can be prevented through consistent hand washing. This is especially important after changing diapers, using the bathroom, caring for someone who is sick, or after coughing/sneezing. 

 

Be sure to help your children wash their hands to ensure that the hands are being sanitized for at least 20 seconds. This ensures thorough cleaning of any germs that may be residing on their hands from surfaces or contact with other children. 

 

Strep Throat

Unlike the common cold and influenza, strep throat is caused by bacteria, not a virus. The bacteria (called group A streptococcus) live in nasal passages and the throat making it highly contagious. Group A Strep is spread through respiratory droplets emitted via coughs or sneezes. Though being exposed to respiratory droplets is the most common means of infection, you can also become infected by touching the droplets that land on surfaces and then touching your nose or mouth. Infection can also occur by coming in contact with fluids of the sores that were caused by Group A Strep. 

 

Signs & Symptoms

  • Sore Throat: Typically the very first symptom. More specifically described as pain with swallowing. 
  • Red and swollen tonsils: The tonsils would also have white pustules signifying an infection. 
  • Red tiny spots of irritation on the roof of the mouth. 
  • Swollen lymph nodes immediately underneath the jawline: This is your body’s way of signaling that it is fighting off an infection.  

 

Treatment

Since strep throat is caused by bacteria, antibiotics can be helpful in eliminating the infection from your body. Antibiotics are the quickest and most effective form of treatment and should be used if you or your child are symptomatic. 

Antibiotics typically:

  •  Decrease the amount of time that you are sick
  •  Significantly decrease your symptoms 
  •  Prevent the spread of the infection to other people

 

It is important to be aware that an antibiotic will not be effective if your sore throat is caused by a virus. If your antibiotic is not working then consult with your doctor for further evaluation, you may not have strep throat in this case. 

 

When To Seek Help

It is important to know for certain that you have strep throat. If painful swallowing has lasted more than five days, a simple test done by the healthcare provider will give you clarity on your or your child’s diagnosis.  The clinician will also be able to prescribe you the proper antibiotics depending on the results of your rapid test. 

 

Protect Your Child and Yourself

Strep Throat is not an infection that you can build an immunity to. Therefore there is no vaccine to help protect you or your child from recurrence. However, there are a few things you can do to protect you and your child from contracting the infection. 

 

  1. Decrease your interaction with those who have recently been infected. The infected person should remain in isolation until their fever has resolved or the antibiotic has been taken for at least 24 hours. This decreases the potential for the spread of infection. 
  2. Wash your hands often and for approximately 20 seconds each time. This will get rid of any bacteria that may be present on your hands. 
  3. Always cover your mouth and nose with either your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

 

Head Lice

Lice are parasitic insects that attach themselves to human hair and ultimately feed on human blood. The most prevalent kind of lice is head lice. Lice can feed on human blood up to 4-5 times a day. 

 

Though many have associated having head lice with poor hygiene, this is not the case. Having lice is not a reflection of a person’s hygiene. Head lice are often shared via close contact. In the case of children, this can happen through hugging, close proximity while sharing toys, head-to-head contact while looking at something together, or even sharing clothing such as hats, hair ties or scarves. 

 

Signs & Symptoms

  • Itching of the scalp
  • Small sores on the head due to excessive scratching
  • Difficulty sleeping because of scalp irritation

 

Prevention

Lice tend to thrive by living on unwashed clothing. Therefore, the key to prevention is washing clothes between uses and not sharing clothes (including hats and scarves) with other children.

 

Treatment

  1. Shampoo the hair with a specific shampoo that contains ingredients that are lethal to lice. The keyword to look for is ‘pediculicide’. Keep in mind that after applying this shampoo, the hair should not be washed for up to two days. This allows that treatment to have its full effect. 
  2. Remove any remaining eggs that may have been attached to the hair shafts. This is typically done via a fine-toothed comb. 
  3. Vacuum and thoroughly clean any surface in your home where the lice could have landed throughout the day. Wash all bedsheets and pillowcases and any soft toys your child sleeps with or is otherwise in close contact with. Some people even shampoo their carpets. 
  4. After these prior three steps, your child should be lice-free again in less than five days. 

 

Conclusion

Remember, with this upcoming school year, the best way to keep your kids safe and healthy is through preventive measures. This includes washing hands, maintaining distance from those who are sick, and practicing good personal hygiene. Protect yourselves and others by making sure your child is safe and healthy. We hope this was informative and helpful and wish your families a safe start to the school year!


Safe Fun in the Sun

Family Having Summer Fun At Fair

The sun is an invaluable resource for many physical, emotional, and mental health needs. Sun exposure is scientifically proven to improve mood by encouraging serotonin release in the brain and subsequently helping depression symptoms. The sun also helps our skin produce Vitamin D, which plays a very key role in bone health. However, like most things in life, too much of a good thing can ultimately cause harm. This summer we want you and your family to be safe while also benefiting from your time in the sun. First, let’s highlight some of the dangers of over-exposure to the sun.

 

Beware! Too much heat is not a healthy treat

Some of the common ill effects of excessive sun exposure include:

  • Sunburn
  • Dehydration
  • Heat Stroke/Heat Exhaustion

 

Sunburn

Sunburn is typically caused by staying out in the sun for too long without protection (sunscreen and/or clothing with UV protection). Some sun rays, known as UVA and UVB rays, damage skin cells. This can lower the body’s ability to fight illness. Some signs of damaged skin cells (sunburn) include redness of the skin, skin inflammation, and painful skin tenderness. Repeated incidents of sunburn have been associated with an increased risk of various cancers, including but not limited to melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell carcinoma.

Protect Yourself Against Sunburn

  • Sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with a minimum strength of SPF 30. This SPF level protects your skin from the penetration of UVA and UVB rays while you are having fun in the sun.
  • Expose in Doses: Maybe take breaks from your sun time. Every 30 minutes – 1 hour find some shade or go indoors to check in with your skin. Re-apply sunscreen at least every 90 minutes or after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Accessorize: Wear a hat that has a brim to protect your face, ears, and parts of your neck for adequate protection from sun rays. Wear clothing that has a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating of 30 or above. Wearing UPF clothing is essentially the same as wearing sunscreen – but you don’t have to worry about reapplying! Though sunglasses do not protect your skin, it is also a good idea to wear sunglasses in bright sunshine.

Treatment for a sunburn

  • Cool baths to help relieve pain.
  • Applying an ice pack/cold compress to irritated areas may help reduce inflammation.
  • Aloe application to help soothe inflammation.
  • Aspirin and Ibuprofen can help with inflammation and skin tenderness.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!!

 

Dehydration

Dehydration occurs from not adequately replenishing the body’s reserve of water. When external temperatures rise the body attempts to cool itself by sweating. This reaction results in a decrease in water inside the body. If this supply is not refilled, dehydration occurs. Symptoms of dehydration include weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, and sometimes nausea.

Prevent & Treat Dehydration

  • The only way to prevent and treat dehydration is to hydrate! On average, more than 50% of our bodies are made of water. This means that water is vital to our bodily functions. Making sure our insides our hydrated helps every routine bodily process that we need throughout the day.
  • Hydration can be done via water as well as ice, frozen popsicles, or sports drinks that contain electrolytes.

 

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion is the precursor to heat stroke. When the external temperature is high, the body will attempt to cool itself by sweating and then allowing that sweat to evaporate. This process is not successful if the sweat is not able to evaporate due to high humidity or other circumstances. No evaporation of sweat causes the core body temperature to continue to rise. If lost fluids are not being replaced, this exacerbates the issue even more.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness & fatigue
  • Pale & clammy skin
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache

If these symptoms are not resolved, heat stroke can occur. This is much more damaging than heat exhaustion.

 

Protect Yourself Against Heat Exhaustion

  • Light Loose Clothing: This will ensure your body is able to ‘breathe’ and your sweat is able to evaporate from your skin as much as possible.
  • Plan Ahead: Check the forecast and humidity percentage before planning your day. High heat indexes and humidity should be avoided strictly for the safest time in the sun. Typically the hottest points of the day are in the mid-late afternoon.
  • Take Breaks: Be sure to plan your sun time in increments. Take a break in the shade or preferably inside a home or shelter with air conditioning.
  • Accessorize: Wear a hat that has a brim to simulate shade.

 

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
  • Not sweating even while overheated
  • A fever over 104 degrees
  • Fast breathing/shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness/unresponsive to stimuli

Heat stroke can cause damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys. If you or someone you know has symptoms of heat stroke, immediate medical attention is necessary. Call 911 immediately or head to the closest emergency room. 

 

General Signs That You Need Medical Attention For Any Sun-Related Condition

  1. Time: If any of the symptoms mentioned above for each sun exposure condition either lasts for more than one hour or worsens increasingly in even less time, then you should get medical help immediately from an urgent care clinic or emergency room.
  2. Response: If the injured person is having difficulty following directions, is unable to speak, or has become unconscious, call 911 or go to the emergency room immediately.
  3. Physical Abnormalities: If the person is vomiting or has stopped sweating completely, this is a sign that their heat exhaustion has progressed to heat stroke and you should get emergency medical help to avoid death or permanent disability.

 

We hope you are having a great summer – but if you find yourself having too much fun in the sun, visit us and we can help!

Food Safety

meat and veggies shish-kebab on grill

Every day what we choose to eat is very important, mainly because it fuels our bodies. However, what if we told you it was even more important to consider how that fuel is prepared? There are four general food safety rules that are important to follow, especially as we head to family barbecues and beach cookouts. So before you fire up the grill this holiday weekend, be sure to follow these four simple steps.  

 

Clean: Any object touching the food should not be an agent of contamination. This includes our hands alongside any plates, cutting boards, utensils, pots or pans! 

  • Be sure to always wash your hands thoroughly before starting to prepare your food. Lather and scrub with soap and water before rinsing and wiping your hands dry. 
  • If you are chopping any meat or poultry, wash the knife and utensils with soap and hot water before and after use. 
  • Countertops and cutting boards can harbor old bacteria if not wiped properly; always remember to clean your surfaces before using them.

 

Separate: Take extra precaution to keep raw foods and cooked foods separated.   

  • Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs have natural bacteria that may cause food poisoning when mixed with vegetables or already-cooked foods. This can cause bacteria from raw foods to transfer where they do not belong. 
  • Remember your surfaces! Do not put cooked foods on surfaces where raw foods have been. 

 

Cook: Temperature is key! Many harmful bacteria are not killed unless subjected to particular high temperatures.   

  • Invest in a food thermometer! To safely cook your food make sure you know the correct temperature it needs to be cooked to. Raw seafood tends to have a lower temperature needed to cook fully than raw beef, pork or chicken.
  • If cooking with a microwave, understand that every microwave is not the same. Check your microwave’s settings to ensure it is operating at the appropriate intensity for the particular food. 
  • If your food packaging does not indicate the threshold temperature, check the websites of the FDA or CDC for a list of accurate values. 

 

Chill: In general, the colder the temperature, the slower dangerous bacteria can multiply. To preserve your cooked foods, it is important to refrigerate or freeze them. This immobilizes the bacteria, protecting your food from spoiling. 

 

What can happen when these general guidelines are not followed?

Foodborne illnesses are as deadly as they are simply uncomfortable. Some common bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses in the United States include, but are not limited to, Salmonella, Norovirus, Listeria and E.Coli. The more well-known reaction to infection is various forms of gastrointestinal discomfort for 24-48 hours or more. However, vulnerable populations (such as children, senior citizens and the immune compromised) are at even greater risk of permanent injury or even death due to a foodborne illness. 

 

Though the disease will primarily affect the digestive system, every individual is different. No one is certain of how badly a particular bacteria will affect their wellbeing. This is why it is important to understand the general symptoms of food poisoning and when it is necessary to contact a physician. 

 

Common symptoms of food poisoning include: 

  • Stomach Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

When To Call A Medical Professional

  • Dry Mouth and Dizziness: When dealing with diarrhea and vomiting, a lot of fluid is being eliminated from your body. If you are unable to replenish your liquids through hydration, you may become dangerously dehydrated. This is often experienced through headache, dizziness, dry throat and dry mouth. 
  • Bloody Diarrhea: If you see blood in your stool or diarrhea, this could indicate internal bleeding and damage to the lining of the intestines or stomach. This would need immediate evaluation. 
  • A Dangerously High Fever: If your temperature is more than 101 degrees, then you should see a physician. The physician will try to either eliminate a possible infection through antibiotics or prevent any further infection or inflammation.  

 

We hope that your summer is full of fun, fresh air, and plenty of delicious food. But if you find yourself with food poisoning, we’re here to help! 

Treating Cuts and Scrapes

putting bandaid on knee

Summer is around the corner, and for many of us  it can’t come soon enough. It’s a time for barbecues, swimming, bike rides, and spending time outside: playing sports, hiking, and exploring the great outdoors. However, these fun outdoor activities bring inevitable pain – kids, in particular, are susceptible to falling, which leads to scraped knees and cut-up hands.

 

Whether you spend the summer at home, or you rent a beach house or visit family, you need to be prepared for the worst. Often, preparedness is the number one step for injury prevention and mitigation – and having a first aid kit on hand is the first line of defense.

 

Travel first aid kits are perfect to keep by the pool or in your car, to take with you on a trip, or to leave on your boat or bring camping. There are numerous products made by several different companies and sold in nearly every grocery or drug store – look for a red cross on a little plastic suitcase. When you have the essentials on hand, you’ll always be ready to treat cuts and scrapes on the go, so you can continue to enjoy your own well-deserved vacation time.

 

What to keep in your first aid kit

Almost any pharmacy will have pre-made, cost-effective kits with the following essentials:

  • Adhesive bandages in many sizes
  • Gauze dressing pads
  • First aid tape
  • Rolls of gauze bandage
  • Antiseptic towelettes
  • Antibiotic ointment packs
  • First aid instruction booklet

 

In addition to first aid kits, you may also want to get a small bag or backpack to fit a few other things. Other items that may come in handy for quick mends after summer falls or slips:

  • Small scissors for cutting bandages
  • Numbing spray for the more painful cuts
  • Disposable sanitary gloves
  • Single-dose packages of ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Tweezers for splinters
  • Burn cream
  • A clean towel and bottle of water

 

Treating wounds

Here are some basic guidelines to help you care for minor cuts and scrapes:

  • Wash your hands before you treat cuts and scrapes to avoid infection. Minor cuts and scrapes usually will stop bleeding on their own fairly quickly, but if they don’t, apply gentle pressure with a clean bandage or the gauze or the fresh towel in your kit and elevate the wound until the bleeding stops.
  • Clean the wound. Rinse the wound with fresh water or the recommended distilled water from your kit. If you’re near a faucet, put the wound right under the tap water to rinse it out. Wash around the wound with soap if at home, or with the antiseptic wipes. But don’t get soap in the wound. And don’t use hydrogen peroxide or iodine, for these products can all sting and be irritating. Remove any dirt or debris with tweezers (you can wipe the tweezers down with an antiseptic wipe to ensure cleanliness).
  • Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment right away to keep the scrape moist and to prevent scarring.
  • As soon as the cut is dry, apply a bandage, rolled gauze or gauze held in place with paper tape. Covering the wound keeps it clean. If the injury is just a minor scrape or scratch, leave it uncovered.
  • Change the dressing at least once a day or whenever the bandage becomes wet or dirty.
  • Know when to seek professional treatment (see below).

 

When to seek professional treatment

Call your doctor or visit a local urgent care facility if:

  • You can’t remove all debris that may have gotten into the cut
  • Bleeding persists for more than a few minutes after the incident and doesn’t stop after bandaging
  • The wound doesn’t heal as expected or opens back up after starting to heal
  • There is redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling in or around the wound – this could indicate infection and may require antibiotics
  • If you are cut by, or step on, rusty metal (such as a nail) and you aren’t sure if you are up to date on your tetanus vaccine

 

Finally, remember we are always here to help if you need us!

Managing Insect Bites and Stings

Person getting bit by fly

As the weather warms up, many of us will start heading outdoors to enjoy all that nature has to offer. Whether you are planning a picnic at your favorite park or a week-long camping trip, spending time outdoors brings an increased risk of insect bites and bee stings. Mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, bees, wasps, spiders and scorpions can all cause adverse reactions, ranging from minor annoyances to life-threatening conditions.

While the types of insects you’ll encounter may vary by region, you’ve likely experienced a bug bite or sting at some point in your life. For most people, they result in localized pain and itching, but sometimes you may need to seek medical care. Read on for information on how to treat bites and stings at home, how to reduce the risk of being targeted by pests, and when to seek medical attention.

What to do if you’ve been bitten or stung

If you have already had a run-in with a biting or stinging insect, there are some steps you can take to minimize your discomfort:

  1. Remove stingers or ticks as quickly as possible.
  2. Move to a safe place. If you’re stung and are near a wasp nest or bee hive, retreat to an area where you won’t get swarmed.
  3. Use antiseptic soap to clean the wound. Apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
  4. Use a cold compress or ice to reduce swelling, and relieve pain and itching.
  5. Consider using an over-the-counter antihistamine (such as Benadryl) to reduce swelling and itching.

What can you do to reduce the risk of being bitten or stung in the first place?

  1. Use an insect repellent spray on your body to deter mosquitoes, ticks, and flies.
  2. Use citronella candles in outdoor spaces to repel mosquitoes from the area.
  3. Hang yellowjacket traps around your yard.
  4. Regularly check under the eaves of your roof, in your attic, bushes, dead tree stumps, and other dark corners for signs of bee and wasp nests.  You can buy bee and wasp spray that kills on contact and prevents them from coming back to their hive later.

When to seek treatment

Call 911 or head to the ER if you notice any of the following signs of allergic reaction:

  1. Hives
  2. Lightheadedness or fainting
  3. Nausea or vomiting
  4. Shortness of breath or wheezing
  5. Chest pain
  6. Difficulty swallowing or tongue swelling

In some cases, even if you don’t experience an allergic reaction, you may still need to seek treatment. If you are bitten by a tick, there is a chance of contracting Lyme Disease or other tick-borne illnesses. If you find a tick on yourself, should remove it and place it in an airtight container in your freezer and watch for signs of Lyme disease. If you have any symptoms of Lyme DIsease, your healthcare provider can test the tick to see if it’s a carrier. The sooner they diagnose Lyme Disease, the easier and more successful treatment can be.

Further, you might need to see a doctor if a bug bite becomes infected. Signs of infection include swelling that doesn’t improve or gets worse over many days, fluid leaking from the wound, the presence of sores around the wound, warmth radiating from the affected area, fever, and chills. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

We hope that your summer gets off to a great start and you can enjoy the outdoors bug-free! But if you find yourself in need of treatment or advice, we’re here to help. Walk in appointments are always welcome!