What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition in children which is characterized by episodic acute attacks. During an asthma flare-up or attack, the airways in the lungs become irritated and swollen, making breathing more difficult. While some flare-ups are mild, others can be life-threatening, so it’s important to deal with them right away.
Signs & Symptoms of an Asthma Flare-Up Include:
- Audible wheezing
- Coughing, during the day or during the night
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Exercise intolerance
Signs of a Severe Asthma Flare-Up
- Trouble breathing even when sitting still
- Difficulty speaking without pausing
- Feeling tired or drowsy
How to Treat an Asthma Flare-Up
If your child is having an asthma flare-up and has been diagnosed with asthma, be sure to follow his or her unique and specific Asthma Action Plan. The asthma action plan is a very important tool in achieving optimal control of their asthma. If your child is coughing, having shortness of breath or other symptoms consistent with asthma, seek evaluation by your pediatrician, pediatric health provider or an urgent care facility.
Seek Emergency Medical Care of Call 911 if your Child
- Begins to show signs of a severe flare-up
- Has a flare-up that enters the danger zone (red zone) of their Asthma Action Plan
Please Remember, Think Prevention!
- Encourage and help your child to avoid substances that are identified triggers (e.g. dust, pollen, mold, tobacco smoke, etc.) of acute asthma flare-ups
- Make sure your child takes their short-acting and long-term control medicine as directed by their Pediatrician — even when your child feels well
- Make sure your child gets a flu shot every year
- Work with your child’s pediatrician to develop and follow their Asthma Action Plan
- Make sure your child never runs out of their prescribed medicines
- Ensure that your child takes their medicines to school and everywhere they go
What Causes Common Cold?
Colds are acute respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. Sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion, coughing, and fever are all symptoms of the common cold.
You can get a cold by touching your eyes or nose after you touch a surface contaminated with cold germs. Cold germs can also be inhaled. Symptoms usually begin 2 or 3 days after infection and last 2 to 14 days.
Washing your hands and staying away from people with colds will help you avoid colds.
How to Treat
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. For the relief of symptoms we advise:
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Gargling with warm salt water, if able to gargle
- Using cough drops or throat sprays
- Taking over-the-counter fever reducer and/or pain reliever medicine, if needed
- Do not give aspirin to children less than 16 years of age with a viral illness or common cold.
- Do not give cough medicine to children under four years of age and do not give honey to children less than 1 year of age.
- Antibiotics are not indicated in the treatment of the uncomplicated common cold.
What Causes Ear Pain in Children?
Pain in the ear can be caused by conditions affecting the inner, middle or external portions of the ear due to:
- Bacterial infection, which requires diagnosis by your Pediatrician and the prescribing of antibiotics
- Viral infection, which also requires diagnosis by your Pediatrician, however, antibiotics are not prescribed
- Inflammation related to congestion associated with an upper respiratory infection
- Trauma to the ear
- Foreign body in the ear canal
How to Treat Ear Pain/Infections
Parents can give over-the-counter pain-relievers and fever-reducers. Dosages and age indications can be found here. Keep all medications out of your child’s reach, if accidental overdose occurs call the Poison Control Center for advice or take your child to the nearest emergency room.
*Children with ear pain, ear drainage, a history of trauma and/or fever should be seen by their Pediatrician
What is Fever?
A fever is a symptom that is commonly associated with many illnesses in children and is one of the body’s initial defense mechanisms in fighting infection. Also, it is one of the most common causes of parental concern and reasons for children to be seen by their pediatrician. While a fever is felt to be helpful in fighting infections in children, treating other symptoms of their illness should also be addressed. These symptoms can include comfort level, hydration status, activity level and sleep patterns of children.
Over-the-counter fever reducer and pain reliever medication dosages are based on weight and age. It is very important to utilize the proper dosing device in administering liquid medications to young children. Overdosing is possible if the proper dosing device is not used and the dosage administered according to the recommendations. See Table for Dosages and Ages of over-the-counter pain medications and fever reducers.
What is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by your child’s immune system. The most common food allergies in children are to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy. In adults, the foods that most often trigger allergic reactions include fish, shellfish, peanuts, and tree nuts, such as walnuts.
Food Allergic Reaction Symptoms
- Itching or swelling of lips, tongue, and throat
- Coughing & Sneezing
- Vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps and pain
- Sudden onset of itching, hives or eczema
- Tightening of the throat and trouble breathing
- Drop in blood pressure in more severe cases (Anaphylaxis)
- Visual impairment
Allergic reactions to food can range from mild to severe. In cases of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), the onset of these symptoms occur quickly and can be life-threatening without emergent medical treatment and intervention.
Parents keeping a diary of all foods consumed before an allergic reaction occurred is most helpful for your pediatrician. In addition, skin and blood testing may be performed to confirm specific allergies. Immediate removal of foods that cause a reaction is crucial in the prevention and treatment of your child’s food allergy.
What to do in Cases of an Allergic Reaction
When food allergies have been identified, you must be prepared to treat in the case of accidental exposure. Always carry an auto-injector device containing epinephrine (e.g. Epi Pen™) as prescribed. The patient and parent will be taught proper use of the auto-injector. The medicine in the auto-injector is short-acting, so after administration proceeds immediately to the nearest emergency room.
What is a Headache?
A headache is a sensation of pain in the head which can be located anywhere in the head and has many causes. The pain can range from dull to sharp, be pounding or non-pounding, or be localized or diffuse. Headaches are a common chronic problem in children. However, they are not frequently associated with serious illness, disability or a life-threatening condition.
Symptoms Associated with Headaches
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Vertigo (you or the world are spinning)
- Tightness in the head
- Sensitivity to sound
What Causes Headaches?
There are many types of headaches. Tension, migraine and cluster headaches are the most common types of headaches not due to other conditions (primary headaches). Headaches due to other conditions are called secondary headaches and are less common.
If your child complains for longer than 2-3 days, is awakened by the headache and if acetaminophen or ibuprofen does not assist with the pain, call and make an appointment with your pediatrician.
What Causes a Sore Throat?
The most common cause of a sore throat is viral and is called pharyngitis. It may be associated with blisters in the mouth and on the palms of the hands (Hand, Foot & Mouth syndrome), enlarged lymph nodes (Infectious Mono) or just a fever. You can have a sore throat for many reasons. Often, allergies, colds, and flu cause sore throats.
Strep Throat is caused by a bacterial infection that requires diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics prescribed by your pediatrician. Strep throat can be diagnosed by a test performed in the pediatrician’s office.
For Temporary Relief of Sore Throats
- Throat lozenges
- Drinking plenty of liquids
- Gargling with warm salt water may ease the pain
- Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help, but children less than 16 years of age with a possible viral illness should not receive aspirin or if they are less than 6 months of age should not receive ibuprofen to treat symptoms
- Treatment with antibiotics is only needed when a diagnosis of strep throat is made by your pediatrician
Vomiting & diarrhea are two symptoms that commonly occur together. Vomiting (throwing up) is the forceful emptying of the stomach and nausea (upset stomach) may occur before each episode of vomiting. Diarrhea is defined as 2 or more watery or very loose stools per day.
Causes and Effects of Vomiting & Diarrhea
The most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea are viruses. Other causes include food poisoning, traveler’s diarrhea, or bacterial infection.
The main risk associated with vomiting and diarrhea is dehydration (when the body has lost too much fluid). Symptoms of dehydration to look for may include:
- No urine output in over 8 hours (dry diaper)
- Dark urine
- Dry lips/mouth
- Crying, without production of tears
- Sunken cranial soft spot
- Difficult to console/fussiness
- Feelings of fatigue, drowsiness
Dehydration is a reason to see a pediatrician right away!
Treatment of Dehydration
Rehydration with Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) is used to rest the gut while it recovers from illness.
- Infants with a formula-based diet may be given an ORS (e.g. Pedialyte™) for 8 – 12 hours instead of formula
- Infants that are breastfed may continue to breastfeed, just on a more frequent basis
- Breastfed infants that continue to have vomiting and diarrhea after frequent feedings may be given ORS for 8 – 12 hours
- Hold all solid foods for 8 – 12 hours from the last occurrence of symptoms, then gradually begin integrating back into their normal diet
Remember to Call Your Pediatrician if:
- Vomiting lasts more than 24 hours or vomits all clear fluids for more than 8 hours
- Blood or bile (green or yellow color) in vomit
- Stomach ache present when not vomiting
- Symptoms of dehydration are present (see above)
- Diarrhea becomes severe
- Your child becomes worse and you think they need to be seen