Category Archives: Common Illnesses

How to Treat Warts: Head to the Hardware Store for Some Duct Tape

In my book, warts are one of the more annoying realities of life.  Though they are harmless–they generally don’t itch or hurt except for some deep warts on the feet—warts are quite a nuisance.   They can be unsightly and uncomfortable.  And they are usually very difficult to get rid of. Continue reading

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Ear Hygiene 101: Cleaning Your Kids Ears–Are Q-Tips Safe?

A friend once told me with great disdain, while watching me wiggle a cotton swab deep in my ear canal with great satisfaction, “I never use Q-tips to clean out my ears.” Apparently a doctor once told him never to put anything smaller than his elbow into his ear, and he took these words as gospel. 

Do you ever have the feeling when someone tells you some great truth, a law of the universe that you’ve been breaking for years in ignorance, that it’s remarkable that you have survived this long, having missed out on some basic manual on life along the way? I often wonder if the parents in my practice feel this way as I spout my wisdom on general health issues, and they look chagrined at having broken the rules with their child. The good news is, it’s hard to break your child. Especially with things like the management of ear wax.

So what are the rules of proper ear hygiene? Though I think that my friend’s doctor was a bit dramatic, I do agree that for the most part, cotton swabs do more harm than good for children’s ears. Continue reading

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Filed under Common Illnesses, Newborns and Infants, Toddlers

Hacking Up a Lung: What is the Best Cough Medicine for Kids?

Coughing children are a big problem.  They can’t sleep.  They keep their parents awake.  They sound dreadful.  They cough so hard they barf (ick).  

 

Every parent, at some time, comes to me desperately seeking a cure for their child’s cough.  The children are usually desperate too, though after his mom told me that he had coughed for a month, one patient of mine seemed quite gleeful, exclaiming “And I have snot rockets!”

 

What can a sleep-deprived parent do to help the hacking little one?  Isn’t there a medicine to stop that cough?

 

The marketers of cough and cold medications would like you to think so.  Take a tour of the cough and cold aisle in your local drugstore and you will see some very seductive terms: cough syrups are marketed as “mucolytics” (break down that disgusting thick sludge in your lungs!), “expectorants” (out, out, damn goo), and “suppressants” (STOP that painful, hacking cough.)  True, “seductive” may be a strange descriptor when discussing snot, but these terms can be very tantalizing to a frantic parent whose kid is hacking up a lung.   

 

A sure fire cough remedy, however, is not as easy to find as these product descriptions would suggest.   Continue reading

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Filed under Common Illnesses, Safety

Is Milk Harmful During an Illness?

As the ad jingle goes, milk it does a body good.  But many parents ask me if they should stop giving their sick child cow’s milk.  Myth or truism?  Here’s the lowdown.

Snotfest:  
It is true that milk may increase the thickness of mucous during a cold or other respiratory infection.  It will not, however, worsen or prolong the illness itself.  Avoiding dairy products during a respiratory illness may make your icky-feeling kid feel slightly less icky.  But during any illness it is crucial that children drink plenty of fluids to stay well hydrated.  If milk is the only thing your little one will drink during an illness, then give him milk! Continue reading

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Drool Factory: Is My Baby Teething?

When is my baby going to teeth?

Nearly every parent begins to wonder if their four month old child is going to get a tooth *any minute* now.  

Well, don’t hold your breath! Continue reading

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Humor in Chaos: Watching The Swine Flu Epidemic Evolve

As I said in a previous post, being on the front line of a potential global pandemic is fascinating and not a little scary.  Since I shared my thoughts about swine flu, it appears that though the disease continues to spread, it is currently neither as contagious nor as deadly as experts feared.  We will see how it evolves and whether it adapts to become a serious threat or not.

In the meantime, because sometimes we have to find humor to ease our stress, I will share several of my favorite moments in the epidemic so far:   Continue reading

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Filed under Common Illnesses, General Commentary, In The News

Top Child Health News of 2008, Continued

Part 2:  Here is my synopsis and opinion on the 2nd half of the top 10 most read online pediatric and adolescent medicine stories of 2008.  The previous post is here.

  • When Are Temper Tantrums in Preschool Children Cause for Concern? 
    • Most toddlers and pre-schoolers have the occasional, or even frequent, tantrums but are generally healthy. In some children, however, they can be an early sign of depression or disruptive disorders.  If you have concerns about the frequency or quality of your child’s tantrums, please see your doctor.  
  • Vaccines in the News
    • Two new combination vaccines have been approved this year.  The AAP strongly encourages the use of combination vaccines, as it helps assure that children receive their vaccines on schedule.  I think they’re nice because in my quest to prevent life-threatening illnesses, I have to stick fewer needles into children.  The kids seem to agree. Continue reading

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Filed under Common Illnesses, Healthy Eating, In The News, Newborns and Infants, Vaccines