Friday, February 27, 2009

The Scoop on Step Throat

"It could be strep throat." Have you ever heard a doctor or your mom say that when you're sick and you have a sore throat? I think we all have at one time or another.

Strep throat is a disease caused by tiny egg-shaped bacteria (say: bak-teer-ee-uh) called Group A streptococci (say: strep-toe-kah-kye). These bacteria cause 15% to 20% of all sore throats and are found in your throat and on your skin.

If a child has strep throat, the doctor will probably give him or her medicine called antibiotics. These kill the strep bacteria. That's good news because sometimes strep throat can get worse and cause problems with other parts of a kid's body. In rare cases, untreated strep can cause arthritis (say: arth-rye-tus) or heart problems from a disease called rheumatic (say: roo-mah-tik) fever.

Most of the time children get the medicine they need and recover from strep throat very quickly. After taking the medicine for 24 hours, you will feel a lot better and will no longer be contagious. However, it is really important to take all 10 days of the medicine to make sure you have treated the infection.

How Do I Get It?

If someone in your family or at school has strep throat, there is a chance you may get it. Strep throat is spread when healthy people come into contact with people who have it. When a person with strep throat sneezes or blows his or her nose and you are close by, or if you share the same forks, spoons, or straws, the bacteria can spread to you.

If you get strep throat, you will start to feel sick within 5 days after you have been around the person who gave it to you.

What Will the Doctor Do?

Your doctor will look into your mouth to see if your throat is red and your tonsils are swollen and covered with white or yellow spots. He or she will also look for small red spots on the roof of your mouth. Most of the time, strep will give you a sore throat, headache, stomach ache, and fever. Typically strep will not give you a runny nose or cough, and occasionally it won't give you any specific symptoms.

To prove that what you have is strep throat, your doctor may do one or two tests. First he or she can do a rapid strep test to check for strep bacteria. He or she will rub a cotton swab over the back of your throat. With this test, the doctor may be able to find out in less than 1 hour if you have strep throat.

If the first test doesn't prove anything, then your doctor may do a longer test called a throat culture. A swab from your throat will then be rubbed on a special dish and the dish will be left to sit for two nights. If you have strep throat, streptococci bacteria will usually grow in the dish within the next 1 to 2 days.

How Can I Get Better?

If you have strep throat, your doctor will give you an antibiotic (say: an-tye-bye-ah-tik), a medicine that kills bacteria. Usually the antibiotic used for strep throat is a form of penicillin (say: peh-nuh-sih-lun). You will take penicillin as a pill, a liquid, or a shot.

To make sure the bacteria go away completely and don't spread to other parts of your body, you must finish all of the medicine. Your doctor will have you take the pills or liquid for about a week.
Your mom or dad may give you acetaminophen (say: uh-see-tuh-mih-nuh-fun) to get rid of aches, pains, and fever. You'll want to have soothing drinks, like tea and warm chicken soup. It's best to avoid spicy and acidic foods, such as orange juice, because they could irritate your tender throat.

Your doctor will tell you to stay home from school until you have been taking the antibiotic for at least 24 hours. This way, you won't spread the bacteria to others.

How Can I Prevent Strep Throat?

If someone in your house has strep throat, you might get it. But you can take these steps to prevent it:

* Make sure the person with strep throat covers his or her mouth when sneezing and coughing.
* Don't handle used tissues or other germy items.
* Wash your hands regularly, especially before cooking and eating.
* Wash dishes, drinking glasses, knives, forks, and spoons in hot, soapy water.
* Keep sores and cuts clean because strep can get in there and cause problems, too.
* Strep throat is no fun, but after feeling sick for 2 or 3 days, most kids start feeling better. In other words, they feel less streppy and more peppy!

Nurse Donna

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hello Parents....

Someone sent a comment over the weekend in which they shared a website with us that our younger children might find of interest. If it prevents the kids from passing thier germs from child to child it may be worth our taking a moment to check it out.

Thank you Maggie Brown.

Nurse Donna

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Importance of Establishing a Bedtime Routine

With more and more activities competing for your child’s waking hours, it is not surprising to hear that most kids are sleep deprived. A recent estimated that 62 percent of kids ages 9-13 do not get enough sleep and 70 percent wish that they could get more sleep. Of those children who are sleep-deficient, most required an additional hour or more of sleep per night to meet the recommended amount for children their age.

Experts recommend that school-age children receive 9.5 to 10.5 hours of sleep each night.What can parents do to make a difference in their child’s sleep habits? There is strong evidence in support of establishing a bedtime routine. Kids who reported having a bedtime routine were:

•more likely to get the recommended amount of sleep.
•less likely to be tired at school.
•less likely to wish for “much more sleep” than they usually get.

Part of establishing a bedtime routine is setting a time for your child to go to bed. Take the lead in setting your child’s bedtime: Children who reported that their parent “decides what time to go to bed” were more likely to get an adequate amount of sleep. In fact, they averaged 45 minutes more sleep nightly than children who chose their own bedtime.“One of the most troubling things in recurrent sleep deprivation is the effect on the immune status,” explains Kate Cronan, M.D., pediatrician and medical editor for KidsHealth. “One or two nights of poor sleep is not the issue— it is those children who repeatedly receive too little sleep.

What many parents do not realize is that without proper sleep, kids’ bodies are not able to fight infection as effectively. In addition to forsaking their physical health, sleep deprivation can also affect their outlook on life. “A tired adult understands why they may have a tough day when they are sleepy— and they soldier on,” she continues. “We cannot expect the same from our children. Parents need to help their children get the proper amount of sleep. In the end, it really will make a huge difference for the whole family.”

Tips for Establishing a Bedtime Routine:

Is it too late to start a bedtime routine if my child is elementary age? Not at all., the most-visited Web site about children’s health, shares simple tips for establishing (or re-establishing) a bedtime routine with your child.

•Bedtime: Set a bedtime for school nights and stick to it.
•Prioritize: Make sure homework (or any other task your child needs to finish for the next day) gets done first to ensure your child can get to bed on time.
•Wrap it up: Thirty minutes before bedtime, encourage your child to finish any projects or activities, and begin the bedtime routine (wash face and hands, brush teeth, etc.).
•Unwind: Include activities in the routine that will help your child slow down and relax (like taking a shower or reading a book).
•Time together: Spend a few minutes recapping the day together. Not only is this a great chance to catch up with your child, but your voice and presence will help your child to relax.
•Good night: Say good night and remind your child to stay quiet and in bed.

Nurse Donna

* For more information about KidsHealth, please visit