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The Children's Wellness Blog

Common Winter Injuries for Kids & How to Prevent Them

December 15, 2017

Common Winter Injuries for Kids & How to Prevent ThemWinter finally seems to have arrived, and it has kids throughout Atlanta hoping for a snow day. As much fun as winter can be, it also has its risks. On top of the flu, there are several types of injuries that winter can cause, especially in kids. To help your family stay safe this year, our board-certified pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center are explaining the most common winter injuries and how you lower your kids’ risks.

Injuries from the Cold Temperatures

Frostbite is a common injury during the winter, particularly in colder climates. It happens when skin and outer tissues are so cold that they freeze. While extremely cold temperatures aren’t as common in Georgia, kids who play outside long enough in below-freezing weather with enough exposed skin can still get frostbite. The skin starts getting red and tingly, and if the frostbite advances, the skin becomes gray and painful or eventually white and hard. To prevent frostbite, keep your kids well-covered in winter weather and limit the time they spend playing outside. If you notice the beginnings of frostbite, put the skin in warm (not hot) water.

Cold air also tends to be very dry, which can lead to cracked skin. It can also cause nosebleeds when the delicate skin inside the nose is too dry. To prevent excessive dryness, use a cold air humidifier, especially in your child’s room at night. Saline nose drops can keep the nasal tissue more hydrated as well.

Injuries from Fires

Between holiday decorations and just keeping your home warm, house fires are unfortunately frequent during the winter. Follow these safety tips for kids:

  • Keep space heaters 3 feet away from any fabric, paper, or anything else that could burn, and turn them off when unattended.
  • If you are celebrating Christmas and putting up a Christmas tree, only use lights that won’t get hot, check them for frayed wires, and turn them off any time you leave or go to sleep. If you use a real tree, keep the stand filled with water at all times. If you use an artificial tree, look for one that’s labeled “fire resistant.”
  • If you have a fireplace with a glass door or metal screen, keep kids away from the fireplace. The glass or metal can get very hot and remain hot long after the fire has gone out.

Injuries from Winter Sports

Ice skating, snowboarding, skiing, and sledding are fun ways to enjoy the winter, especially if you go to an area that has more snow than we typically get in Atlanta. But these sports can also cause a variety of kids’ injuries. To keep your kids safe if we get snow and ice (or if you travel somewhere that does), use these safety rules:

  • No unsupervised skiing, sledding, etc.
  • Only skate on areas that are designated as safe for skating – not on lakes that appear to be frozen.
  • No sledding head-first.
  • Sledding should only take place on a slope that is at a 30-degree angle or less, and it must end in a long, flat runoff that is nowhere near traffic.
  • Kids should only ski or snowboard if they’ve been taught by a skilled, professional instructor, and they must stay on slopes appropriate for their skill level.
  • Kids under 16 should not operate a snowmobile, and kids under age 6 should not ride on them.

Injuries from Winter Driving

Winter can create hazardous driving conditions. If you don’t have much experience with winter driving, do some research about how to react to a skid, how to break on icy roads and snow, and other techniques. It’s best to keep teen drivers off the road in hazardous conditions until they can gradually gain experience in more mild conditions and work their way up.

For kids that use car seats, keep them warm in thin, snug layers instead of big puffy clothing. The puffy clothing will go instantly flat if a collision occurs, leaving an unsafe amount of space in the harness. Car seat covers are popular for keeping kids warm, but make sure it only goes on top of the car seat – never between your child and the seat or between your child and the harness. These are just a few tips for car seat safety, but we often post more details on our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profiles.

Winter can be such a fun season for kids, especially when we see the occasional snowfall. If you take the right preventative steps, you and your kids can have a safe, healthy, and fun-filled winter. For more advice on a healthy winter, reach out to Children’s Wellness Center and we’ll be happy to help.

Does My Child Have Allergies or Asthma?

December 1, 2017

Does My Child Have Allergies or AsthmaEvery parent wants their kids to be healthy, and some changes to their health can trigger an all-out panic of Googling their symptoms. Rather than starting your research after a symptom appears, start educating yourself now so you’ll know what to look for and how to react. To lend a hand, our board-certified pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center are breaking down the differences between two similar issues: allergies and asthma. Read on to find out more about how to tell the difference between allergies and asthma in your kids.

Asthma vs. Allergies: The Basics

First, you’ll want to have a general understanding of asthma and allergies. Asthma is a condition of chronic airway inflammation. The condition is always there, but certain triggers will irritate the airways and cause them to constrict much more. These triggers depend on the child, but common ones include illness, exercise, certain allergens or weather conditions, pet hair and dander, and strong laughing or crying. When this happens to a severe degree, it’s called an asthma attack.

Allergies, on the other hand, happen when your child’s immune system overreacts to a usually harmless trigger. The immune response can produce respiratory issues and other symptoms, and like allergies, they can range from a minor annoyance to a severe and dangerous problem. Each child has specific allergens they react to, which often include pollen, pet hair and dander, certain foods, or specific medications.

In some kids, allergies and asthma go hand-in-hand. They may have both conditions, for instance, and an allergic reaction may aggravate their asthma symptoms.

Symptoms to Look For

Allergies and asthma are often confused because they can produce similar symptoms. They can also be triggered by the same thing. Here are a few ways to tell if your child’s symptoms are coming from asthma or allergies:

  • Asthma produces only respiratory issues, like wheezing, coughing, chest congestion, and limited breathing. Allergies may have these symptoms but they often also come with a runny nose or nasal congestion, sneezing, and fatigue. Allergies can produce hives and skin irritation as well.
  • Keep a journal of when your child’s problems are at their worst. Asthma symptoms tend to be worse at night. Allergy symptoms, on the other hand, often change from one season to the next. If breathing problems appear after exercise, laughing, or crying, asthma is the most likely culprit, while symptoms that appear after playing with a pet, eating a certain food, or being outside are more likely to be allergy-related.
  • If you’re not sure if your child has environmental pediatric allergies or asthma, consider his/her age. Kids rarely develop environmental allergies before age two, so if your baby is wheezing or having trouble breathing, asthma is probably the issue.
  • Analyze your family history. Asthma and some allergies tend to run in families, so your own medical history and your family’s history can offer some clues.

If You Suspect Asthma or Allergies

While the tips above can offer some hints, it’s very important to seek a medical diagnosis from a qualified healthcare provider. Asthma and allergies are quite similar and both can be extremely serious if they are not treated appropriately or if you don’t have the right medication available in an emergency. It’s great to come into the pediatrician’s office with an idea about what may be wrong, but getting a true diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

Our experienced pediatricians can typically diagnose asthma in the office. But kids with severe symptoms may be referred to a pediatric pulmonary specialist who can perform tests to measure lung function and evaluate their response to medications. For allergies, if there are certain allergens that you suspect, skin allergy tests and blood tests are strong diagnostic tools. In some cases, the best way to confirm a diagnosis is to treat one problem and see if it gets better. If this is the route your doctor recommends, just remember to pay close attention to your child’s symptoms to see if they improve.

Keeping your kids healthy involves a team effort between all their parents, caregivers, and doctors. As a parent, make sure your kids’ sitters, teachers, and other caregivers are observing your child as well and will let you know if they notice anything new or concerning. Both allergies and asthma can sometimes produce serious problems, but they can also be well-managed with the right treatment. If you think your kids may have allergies or asthma, schedule a pediatrician appointment to find the answer. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ as well for more kids health tips.

Holiday Travel Safety Tips

November 27, 2017

Holiday Travel Safety TipsThanksgiving is already here, and the rest of the holiday season is fast approaching.  For many families, the holidays involve some amount of travel, whether it’s a cross-country flight or a two-hour drive. As much fun as the holidays can be, traveling does have some safety risks. To have a safe and fun holiday season with your kids, our pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center have some helpful tips:

Car Safety Tips

If you’re driving to your destination, these steps can help you and your kids stay safe:

  • Use a vehicle that has enough seats for everyone. That means all children under age 13 should have a back seat that can accommodate whichever safety device they need.
  • Make sure to follow all of the appropriate car seat rules. There are a lot of details to remember, so refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics car seat guidelines for kids.
  • Some car manufacturers advertise that they use advanced airbags. While these air bags do appear to be safer for adults, their safety for kids has not been evaluated enough. Continue to keep children in the back seat. Even in cars with these advanced air bags.
  • If you’re going to a colder climate with winter weather, follow some additional safety precautions:
    • Don’t put your baby in a puffy coat underneath their car seat. In a crash, puffy clothing will compress and leave the safety harness dangerously loose. Instead, keep them warm by dressing them in thin layers along with a hat and gloves. For more warmth, you can put a blanket on them (on top of the safety harness).
    • If you’re not used to driving in winter weather, look up some tips. Know what to do if you start sliding on ice, how to tell if the roadway is frozen, how to get out if you’re stuck in a snow drift, etc.
    • Make an emergency winter safety kit to keep in your car in case you get stuck or stranded. This should include:
      • Long-lasting and easy-to-access foods like granola bars
      • Bottled water
      • An ice scraper and snow brush
      • Blankets
      • Dry clothing, hats, and gloves
      • A center punch (a tool to break the car window in an emergency)
    • Remember the rule of thumb to keep your child warm: a child needs one more layer than an adult.
  • RVs are popular options for a holiday outing. Make sure to follow some safety precautions, though:
    • Use an RV that has a forward-facing seat for every member of the family, and that the seats can accommodate the car seat, booster seat, or other safety equipment your kids need.
    • Make sure your RV meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, which means the seat belts have both lap belts and shoulder belts.
    • Practice driving the RV before you load up your kids and head for unfamiliar roads. An RV drives differently than your typical passenger vehicle, so it takes time to get used to.

Air Travel Safety Tips

For families traveling by plane this holiday season, follow these tips for a safer trip:

  • While it isn’t required to buy a seat for a child who is under 2 years old, the safest option is to buy a seat for your baby and use a safe car seat. Just make sure the car seat is approved for use on an airplane.
  • Dress your child in easy-on, easy-off layers. You never know what temperature the plane will be, and you have little control over it. Layers prepare you for every situation, but they also make diaper changes and bathroom trips easier in the cramped plane bathroom.
  • If your baby’s ears get uncomfortable, giving them something to suck on during take-off and initial descent can help. You can choose to breastfeed or give them a bottle or pacifier.
  • Some kids are bothered by the excess noise on an airplane. For these kids, cotton balls and earplugs may help.
  • If you’re renting a car at your destination, call ahead to make sure they can accommodate the safety equipment you need.

No matter how you’re getting to your destination, we have one final tip: find a great pediatrician and hospital near the place you’re staying. You never know when an emergency will arise, and you don’t want to waste valuable time trying to find a doctor in the midst of a stressful situation. To make this less likely, it’s also a good idea to schedule a physical exam for kids before you travel if your kids are due (or nearly due) for their next visit.

Ask the Parents: Why Do You Come to Children’s Wellness Center?

November 17, 2017

For a new parent, choosing a pediatrician is one of the most challenging and important decisions you’ll need to make. Your doctor needs to be knowledgeable and experienced. They need to connect with you and your kids alike. And of course, they need to be accessible when you need them…it’s not an easy task. Most of our pediatricians and nurse practitioners are parents ourselves, so we know how helpful it is to hear input from other parents. Fortunately, several of our patients’ families at Children’s Wellness Center are happy to share their thoughts with you.

We understand that choosing the right pediatrician is a process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Families’ stories like those in the video above can be a great step. But you should still take the time you need to research qualifications, meet in person, and ask all your questions to find the right pediatrician. Whether you’re about to have a new baby, you’ve moved, or you’re looking to switch from your current pediatrician, checking out all your options can help you find the pediatrician and “medical home” that will guide your kids through a healthy childhood. To find out more about our practice or to become a new patient, contact Children’s Wellness Center today. For more interesting articles about keeping your kids safe and healthy, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.