Pediatricenter is now happily offering the quadrivalent flu vaccine (protecting against 4 strains of influenza) this fall. The flu shot is recommended for almost every patient (with rare exceptions) 6 months of age and older. When it's the first time your child is getting a flu shot under the age of 8, he or she should receive two doses of the vaccine separated by at least 4 weeks (this includes patients receiving a flu vaccine for the first time the previous year who only received one dose).
The intranasal flu vaccine (FluMist) is NOT being recommended this year due to past ineffectiveness.
Here is the vaccine information sheet from the CDC for the injectable flu vaccine we are offering:
and please visit the CDC's website for information about signs and symptoms of influenza:
Bronchiolitis is a viral respiratory tract infection that affects infants and young children. It is most often caused by a virus called Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) which affects the small airways, the bronchioles. These airways become swollen and filled with mucous, which makes breathing more difficult. Daycare and smoke exposure increase the risk of a child developing bronchiolitis.
Signs and symptoms of bronchiolitis include:
Bronchiolitis typically can last anywhere from 7-14 days. Often mild symptoms last for only a few days, but can be followed by worsening of cough and difficulty breathing. Fortunately, most cases of bronchiolitis are mild and can be treated at home, although some cases may get severe enough to require hospitalization. Since bronchiolitis is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not useful to help your child get better. Time and supportive care including a humidifier, suctioning out the nose prior to eating and sleeping, and keeping your child comfortable and hydrated are the most important things you can do.
Worrisome signs of more severe bronchiolitis include:
If you have any concerns about your child having bronchiolitis, please give our office a call.
One of the most important ways to keep you and your family healthy this winter is to get into the habit of regular handwashing. Handwashing with soap under warm water for at least 20 seconds helps remove germs, avoids your children from getting sick, and reduces the spread of germs to others. If water is not available, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content is a good alternative. It's important to teach your kids to wash their hands prior to handling food/eating, after coughing/sneezing/nose blowing, after using the bathroom, and when coming in the house from outdoors.
Stay home when contagious
Getting sick and being a child go hand-in-hand during the winter, and because illness is inevitable, you can't always keep your child home from school every time he or she is sick. Before sending your child back to daycare or school, it is important to keep your child home for the appropriate length time based on the following symptoms to prevent others from getting sick:
We know it’s hard to have kids sick with sniffles, sneezes and coughs, especially when it leads to fussiness and sleepless nights. As parents, we feel like we need to do something to alleviate the symptoms. This often leads to one of the most common questions during a visit: “What can I do to help my child feel better?”
Common colds are usually caused by viruses, which are self-limiting (lasting 7 to 10 days on average). Kids get about six to eight colds per year, while adults, on average, get two to four colds per year.
Over-the-counter children’s cough and cold medicine is not recommended under the age of six according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, mainly because of lack of effectiveness and potentially harmful side effects (hallucinations, abnormal heart rhythms, and altered levels of consciousness, among others). The danger of side effects is of particular concern when medicines are taken in too large of doses, which can happen because there are so many different preparations, often with combinations of drugs.
Multiple studies have shown the limitations and potentially harmful effects of over-the-counter cough and cold medications in children. One study from the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine actually showed that parents rated honey as superior to dextromethorphan (a common ingredient in cough medicine) in relieving nighttime cough and sleep.
Most often, what works the best are the tried-and-true remedies of rest, plenty of fluids, and time. We also recommend Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain or fever, nasal saline drops or spray for congestion, and honey (over the age of one year) for cough.
Kids with a common cold still should generally be able to eat, drink, and play as they normally would. Allow yourself to read some extra stories and bend the screen time rules when the kids are sick and cranky. As always, if symptoms might suggest something more than a cold is going on - such as breathing harder or faster than normal, high fevers, or worsening fatigue – please call to schedule an appointment.
With winter weather now upon us, it is the time of year for hats. With the inclusion of hats comes the possibility of sharing hats, which can spread the all-too-common nuisance of head lice. While scary to think of, head lice are quite common and most often easy to treat.
Head lice affects mostly school aged children. Head lice (single: louse) are around the size of a sesame seed and are typically pale gray in color. They feed off of small amounts of blood from the scalp. Lice lay and attach their eggs, called nits (which are yellowish-white in color) close to the scalp. Once the eggs hatch, the empty nits stay on the hair shaft.
Head lice typically live for around 28 days and develop in 3 phases: egg or nit, nymph and louse. Eggs hatch after around 6-9 days. Nymphs looks like much smaller lice, around the size of a pinhead, and become adults around 7 days after hatching. An adult louse can multiply quickly after hatching, laying up to 10 eggs per day. It takes around 12-14 days from when an egg hatches to become an adult louse. Cycles repeat every 3 weeks if lice are left untreated.
The most common symptoms of head lice are itching, which happens once the scalp becomes sensitive to the lice saliva. The most common spots to itch are behind the ears and on the nape of the neck. Itching can last for weeks, even after the lice are gone.
The best way to check for lice and nits is in a well-lit room, and methodically checking the hair section by section. Nits can often be confused for dandruff. Nits are close the scalp and are firmly adhered to the hair shafts, while dandruff is not.
Treatment for head lice includes the following, but it is important to always check with your child’s doctor before beginning treatment:
It is also important to keep safety in mind when applying lice medications. These medicines should always be applied by an adult, used as directed, and not used in a child under 2 years of age without direction of a physician. Children should not be left alone with lice medication on their scalp. Products should be rinsed off over a sink, not in the tub or shower, to avoid contact with other parts of the skin. After treatment, the comb-out method is recommended to get rid of lice and nits. First, wet your child’s hair. Second, use a fine-toothed comb and comb through your child’s hair in small sections. Third, after each comb, wipe the comb off with a paper towel looking for any lice or nits. Repeat steps 1-3 until you have gone through all of your child’s hair.
There are still some schools that have a “No Nit” policy, stating that children who are affected with lice are not allowed in school until nit-free. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of School Nurses discourage such policies and state that head lice should not exclude a child from being able to participate in school.
As always, if any questions about head lice arise, please give our office a call.