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
When I was growing up, “juice” was standard fare for kids. Those were the Kool-Aid days…. But now we realize that even juice that comes from real fruits and not a packet of sugary powder is not necessarily healthful.
What is so wrong about juice or other sugary beverages? Isn’t a glass of orange juice an important part of a well-rounded breakfast? Continue reading
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