Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu? Do you know what it is? If not, read on.

For those who like to follow my web page, I wish to clarify first and foremost that there have been NO CASES of Swine Flu at Black River Local School District as of this posting date. As of this posting Ohio only has one (1) confirmed case of the Swine Flu.

If you would like additional information please visit the CDC's Swine Flu website by clicking on the following link:

Remember your best defense is proper "hand washing" which is the #1 preventative measure according to the CDC. Teach your children and family members to sing "happy birthday " twice in their heads while washing hands to afford the recommended amount of time needed for proper washing with soap and warm water.

If a family member develops any of the following symptoms by all means do seek medical attention to assure that you do not have the influenza virus. The symptoms are as follows:

Sore throat
Body aches

Note that some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu.

Remember that the Swine flu is thought to be spread the same as all other flu viruses which are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. (Hence, why hand washing is the #1 preventative measure).

Lastly, remember if in doubt regarding sending your child to school use your parental instinct; if they are not feeling well keep them home. Do not risk others to exposure at this time. Every one's cooperation is essential as we all do our part in and out of the school setting to assist in keeping this virus at bay for our families, friends and neighboring communities.

Nurse Donna

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Health & Safety Tips

Spring time is now here. For most children, this means more outdoor activities (swimming, camping, bike riding, etc.). For all parents, this means being extra vigilant to keep your child safe and healthy.

I found an article that discusses some tips to keep your child safe and healthy this spring, including:

Avoiding and Treating Spring Allergies, which can cause your child to have a lot of sneezing, plus a clear runny or stuffy nose, itchy and watery eyes and a cough, especially when he has spent a lot of time outside.

Water Safety to protect your children when they are swimming or boating. Most importantly, always supervise your children around the water.

Sun Safety to prevent damage from too much exposure to the sun. Regular use of sunscreen in children can lower their risk of skin cancer by almost 78%. But remember that sunscreen only works if you use it correctly and it does not substitute for limiting too much sun exposure. Many parents make the mistake of using sunscreen and then allowing unlimited sun exposure.

Using Insect Repellents Safely to prevent bites from mosquitoes, etc. which can make your child miserable.

Help your child enjoy Spring by following the basic health and safety tips that are described in the rest of this article.

Spring Time Seasonal Allergies and Children

Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is a common problem in infants and children. The most common symptoms include a stuffy or runny nose with clear drainage, sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, sore throat, throat clearing and a cough that may be worse at night and in the morning. These symptoms usually occur during certain times of the year for people with seasonal allergies, corresponding to being exposed to outdoor allergens, such as tree pollens, grasses and weeds. Other people may have perennial allergies, with problems occurring year round from exposure to indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pets, second hand smoke and molds.

Other signs of having allergic rhinitis include the 'allergic salute,' a common habit of children which consists of rubbing their nose upward. This is usually because the nose is itchy and this practice can lead to a small crease in the skin of the lower part of the nose. Children with allergic rhinitis also commonly have 'allergic shiners,' which are dark circles under the eyes caused by nasal congestion.

Allergic rhinitis does run in certain families and are more common in children that have asthma or eczema. It is also more common in children that are exposed to second hand smoke, air pollution and pets.

Having uncontrolled allergies can put your child at risk for getting a secondary sinus infection, ear infections, and for having poor concentration at school. It can also make asthma symptoms worse.

The best treatment for allergic rhinitis is to avoid what your child is allergic to by following prevention and environmental controls. For seasonal allergies, this includes keeping windows closed in the car and at home to avoid exposure to pollens and limit outdoor activities when pollen counts are highest (early morning for tree pollen in the spring, afternoon and early evening for grasses in the summer, and midday for ragweed in the fall).

The medications that are used to control the symptoms of allergic rhinitis include decongestants, antihistamines and steroids. If symptoms are mild, you can use over the counter medications as needed. Avoid using topical decongestants (such as Afrin) for more than 3-5 days at a time or frequent use of over the counter allergy medicines with antihistamines, as they can cause drowsiness and poor performance in school.

Prescription allergy medications include the newer, non-sedating antihistamines, such as Claritin and Zyrtec (usual dose is 1-2 teaspoons or 1 pill once a day), and topical steroids, such as Nasonex, Flonase, and Nasacort Aqua (usual dose is 1-2 squirts in each nostril once each day). If your child's symptoms are well controlled, then you can decrease the dose of the nasal steroid that you are using for 1-2 weeks and then consider trying your child off of it and see how they do. Continue the antihistamine for 1-2 months or until your child's allergy season is over. Allegra is another antihistamine that is commonly used in older children because it is only available in a pill form.

To be effective, your child should be using these medications every day. They will not work as well if just used on an as needed basis. They are in general very safe with few side effects, but the nasal steroids have been associated with growth suppression when used in high doses. This is however rare, and your pediatrician will monitor your child's growth to make sure this does not happen.

If your child's symptoms are not improving with the combination of the antihistamine and steroid, then we may also use a decongestant, such as Sudafed, AH-CHEW D, or as a combination (Claritin D).

For seasonal allergies, it is best to start using these medications just before your child's season begins and then continue the medicines every day all through the season. For perennial allergies, your child may need to take these medicines year round.

Your child may also benefit from nasal irrigations using saline nose drops 1-3 times a day. This will help the sinuses drain.

If your child does not improve with these interventions, then we will consider having him see an allergy specialist for skin testing to figure out what he is allergic to and to possibly start immunotherapy injections (allergy shots).

Water Safety and your Children

To ensure that your children are safe, never leave them unsupervised around water. Here are some tips to keep your child safe around water:

Teach your child to swim, but remember that younger children shouldn't be left unsupervised around water even if they know how to swim. The AAP recommends that children under age four not be given formal swimming lessons, especially as a primary means to prevent the risk of drowning.

Always wear a safety approved life jacket when on a lake, river or ocean while boating, water skiing, jet skiing or tubing.

Warn your children about playing in canals or other fast moving water.

Do not let your child play around any water (lake, pool, ocean, etc.) without adult supervision (even if he is a good swimmer).

Don't allow running or rough play around the water.

Childproof your swimming pool with a fence around your backyard and a fence (at least 4 feet high) around the pool, with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Also consider having a phone poolside and learning CPR in case of emergencies.

Sun Safety for your Children

It is now well known that exposure to sun puts people at risk for skin cancer and premature aging and that most of that exposure comes during childhood (80% of a person's lifetime sun exposure occurs before they are 21). Regular use of sunscreen in children can lower their risk of skin cancer by almost 78%.

There are many sunscreens available for safe use in children over six months old. Pick one that offers UVA and UVB protection and that has a SPF of 15 or higher (especially if your child has light skin). Apply the sunscreen in a thick coat at least 30-45 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours (or more often in he is swimming or perspiring heavily).

Here are some other tips to protect your child from the damaging effects of the sun.

Wear protective clothing, including a hat and long sleeve shirt and long pants. Keep in mind that most clothing only has a SPF of 5-9, so you can still get sun damage with a shirt on.

Limit exposure to the sun when it is at its strongest (10am-4pm).
Protect your child's eyes with sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB radiation.

Use sunscreen daily, even if it is cloudy, since most of the sun's radiation penetrates clouds and can still cause sunburn.

Consider using a sunscreen with ingredients (such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) that physically block the sun's radiation if your child has sensitive skin.

Deet lowers the effectiveness of sunscreens, so use a higher SPF if you are using a combination product that has both a sunscreen and an insect repellant.

Insect Repellents for Children

Insects (mosquitoes, gnats, chiggers, ticks, etc.) commonly bite children and can make them miserable. There are many safe and effective insect repellents that you can use to protect your child, including those that use deet, citronella, or soybean oil. Remember to only use products that are approved for children, follow the manufacturer's instructions and wash off the insect repellents when you return indoors.

Insect repellents with deet are probably the best and most commonly used. Although it is absorbed through your child's skin, it is generally safe as long as the product has less than 10% deet. You should apply the deet product to all exposed skin, except near the eyes, mouth, open cuts or hands of small children (who may rub their eyes or put their fingers in their mouth). Deet is absorbed through the skin, so you may want to limit how much you put on younger children, wash it off as soon as possible, and apply it more to clothing than skin.

Although deet insect repellents are effective for several hours, they do wash off with water and sweat, and you may have to reapply them to be most effective (follow the product's instructions to be safe).

Other insect repellents that are generally safe in children include those made with Citronella (Avon's Skin-So-Soft) and soybean oil (Bite Blocker).

Remember that insect repellents do not protect against most stinging insects, including wasps, bees and fire ants.

To keep your children safe from insect bites, you can also:

Make sure to keep as much of her skin covered with clothing as possible, including long sleeve shirt, long pants, socks, and a hat.

Wear light colored clothing, so as not to attract bugs.

Avoid using any scented soaps or other products on your baby, since the fragrances can also attract insects.

Apply insect repellents to clothing instead of to skin so that it won't be absorbed.
Wash off insect repellents as soon as possible.

Avoid areas with insects nest.

** Remember to always follow the instructions, including age restrictions on any insect repellent you are considering using.

Nurse Donna

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What does Pertussis sound like?

If you have never heard "whooping cough" (Pertussis) click on the link below.

Nurse Donna