What’s the Deal with Summer Sniffles?

Summer colds are so annoying! What causes them? The National Institutes of Health sheds light on summer colds, what causes them and what, if anything, can be done about them.

summerMost everyone looks forward to summer—time to get away, get outside and have some fun. So what could be more unfair than catching a cold when it’s warm? How can cold symptoms arise when it’s not cold and flu season? Is there any way to dodge the summer sniffles?

Cold symptoms can be caused by more than 200 different viruses. Each can bring the sneezing, scratchy throat and runny nose that can be the first signs of a cold. The colds we catch in winter are usually triggered by the most common viral infections in humans, a group of germs called rhinoviruses. Rhinoviruses and a few other cold-causing viruses seem to survive best in cooler weather. Their numbers surge in September and begin to dwindle in May.

During summer months, the viral landscape begins to shift. “Generally speaking, summer and winter colds are caused by different viruses,” says Dr. Michael Pichichero, a pediatrician and infectious disease researcher at the Rochester General Hospital Research Institute in New York. “When you talk about summer colds, you’re probably talking about a non-polio enterovirus infection.”

Enteroviruses can infect the tissues in your nose and throat, eyes, digestive system and elsewhere. A few enteroviruses can cause polio, but vaccines have mostly eliminated these viruses from Western countries. Far more widespread are more than 60 types of non-polio enteroviruses. They’re the second most common type of virus—after rhinovirus—that infects humans. About half of people with enterovirus infections don’t get sick at all. But nationwide, enteroviruses cause an estimated 10 million to 15 million illnesses each year, usually between June and October.

Enteroviruses can cause a fever that comes on suddenly. Body temperatures may range from 101 to 104 °F. Enteroviruses can also cause mild respiratory symptoms, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and gastrointestinal issues like nausea or vomiting.

“All age groups can be affected, but like most viral infections, enterovirus infections predominate in childhood,” says Pichichero. Adults may be protected from enterovirus infections if they’ve developed antibodies from previous exposures. But adults can still get sick if they encounter a new type of enterovirus.

Less common enteroviruses can cause other symptoms. Some can lead to conjunctivitis, or pinkeye—a swelling of the outer layer of the eye and eyelid. Others can cause an illness with rash. In rare cases, enteroviruses can affect the heart or brain.

To prevent enterovirus infections, says Pichichero, “it’s all about blocking viral transmission.” The viruses travel in respiratory secretions, like saliva or mucus, or in the stool of an infected person. You can become infected by direct contact. Or you might pick up the virus by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, such as a telephone, doorknob or baby’s diaper. “Frequent hand washing and avoiding exposure to people who are sick with fever can help prevent the spread of infection,” says Pichichero.

The summer colds caused by enteroviruses generally clear up without treatment within a few days or even a week. But see a health care provider if you have concerning symptoms, like a high fever or a rash.

What to Do About Your Child’s Snoring

I never thought about children snoring until I heard a public service announcement on the radio the other day.

I did  some research on the subject and want to share what I found out as it might be an area of concern if you have a young child who snores. My research sourceThe National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

According to NSF, children, three years old or older tend to snore during the deeper stages of sleep. Primary snoring is defined as snoring that is not associated with more serious problems such as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), frequent waking from sleep, or inability of the lungs to breathe in sufficient oxygen.

Statistics show that about 10% of children experience episodes of snoring at some point during the night. Snoring occurs during sleep when your child is breathing and there is some blockage of air passing through the back of the mouth. The opening and closing of your child’s air passage causes a vibration of the tissues in the throat and the loudness of the snore is impacted by how much air passes through and how fast the throat tissue is vibrating.

About one to three percent of children not only snore, but also suffer from breathing problems during their sleep.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for snoring and that a diagnosis be conducted to determine if a child is experiencing normal primary snoring or obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Loud and regular nightly snoring is often abnormal in otherwise healthy children and could be a sign of a respiratory infection, a stuffy nose or allergy; other times it may be a symptom of sleep apnea.

In children, the most common physical problem associated with sleep apnea is large tonsils. Young children’s tonsils are quite large in comparison to the throat, peaking at five to seven years of age. Swollen tonsils can block the airway, making it difficult to breathe and could signify apnea.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 263,000 children in the U.S. have tonsillectomies each year and sleep apnea is a major reason.

A child suffering from sleep apnea may experience the following symptoms:

  • Loud snoring on a regular basis
  • Have pauses, gasps, and snorts and actually stop breathing. The snorts or gasps may waken them and disrupt their sleep.
  • Be restless or sleep in abnormal positions with their head in unusual positions.
  • Sweat heavily during sleep.

The daytime effects of sleep apnea in children may manifest themselves in ways such as:

  • Experiencing behavioral, school and social problems
  • Being difficult to wake up
  • The child suffering headaches during the day, but especially in the morning
  • Your child being irritable, agitated, aggressive, and cranky
  • Being so tired during the day that they fall asleep or daydream
  • Speaking with a nasal voice and breathe regularly through the mouth

If your child has any of the above symptoms, the National Sleep Foundation suggests speaking with your child’s physician.

Preventing a Dog Bite

dogA dog can be a wonderful family pet and loving companion.

But, with the joy of owning a dog there is the responsibility of training and socializing a dog. Children need to learn how to treat a dog; not only their own dog but any dog they may encounter. What follows is a press release that speaks to preventing dog bites.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week  / May 17-23, 2015 Press Release

The American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery and the American Academy of Pediatrics have joined forces with the U.S. Postal Service, non-profit community, insurance industry and veterinarians to educate the public that dog bites are a serious health issue and are avoidable.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually – more than half of whom are children. Over the past five years, dog bite injuries are reported to be the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury in children ages 0-14 in America.

Dog Bite Prevention Week is an ideal time to educate children and adults on how to handle, train and treat dogs. If you are considering getting a dog, talk with a veterinarian about choosing a dog that will fit in well with your family. As a dog owner, you should socialize your new pet, train your dog with commands, vaccinate your dog against rabies? and other diseases, and neuter your dog, as they are less likely to bite.

The American Humane Association reports that 66 percent of bites among children occur to the head and neck. In 2014 approximately 28,500 reconstructive procedures were done to repair dog bites, as reported by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which is a 6 percent increase since 2013.

“Even the friendliest dog may bite when startled or surprised. Be cautious; once a child is scarred they are scarred for life,” said Gregory R. D. Evans, MD, FACS, president of the ASRM. “Most children love dogs and like to put their faces up close to the dog’s face. Parents should never permit this. Injuries to the face and hands can be disfiguring or disabling and require prompt, expert medical attention.”

The ASRM and AAP joined this coalition to raise awareness and help prevent devastating, life-changing injuries from dog bites.  Medical experts suggest steps you can take to protect your family from a dog bite:

  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Teach your child to see if the dog is with an owner and looks friendly. Then ask the owner for permission to pet the dog. Let the dog sniff your child and have your child touch the dog gently, avoiding the face, head and tail.
  • Tell your child not to bother a dog if it is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
  • Tell your child not to run past a dog.

If you’re threatened by a dog, remain calm. Avoid eye contact. Stand still until the dog leaves or back away slowly. If you are knocked down, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands. If you are bitten by a dog take the following steps immediately:

  • Rinse the bite area with soapy water.
  • Elevate limb(s) that have been bitten.
  • For deeper bites or puncture wounds, apply pressure with a clean bandage or towel to stop the bleeding. Then wash the wound, dry it and cover with a sterile dressing. Don’t use tape or butterfly bandages to close the wound.
  • It’s a good idea to call your child’s physician because a bite could require antibiotics or a tetanus shot.  The doctor also can help you to report the incident.
  • If your child is bitten severely, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room.
  • When going to the emergency room, advise the personnel of:

o        your tetanus vaccination status;

o        vaccine status of the dog;

o        who the dog owner is; and,

o        If the dog has bitten before.

 

Let’s Keep Kids Safe Around Water!

water safetyKids love the water, whether it is the bathtub, the backyard pool, a river, lake or ocean. But, keeping children safe around water during the summer especially takes all our concentration.

What follows are prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control.

Learn life-saving skills.  Everyone should know the basics of swimming (floating, moving through the water) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Fence it off. Install a four–sided isolation fence, with self–closing and self–latching gates, around backyard swimming pools. This can help keep children away from the area when they aren’t supposed to be swimming. Pool fences should completely separate the house and play area from the pool.

Make life jackets a “must.” Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets can be used in and around pools for weaker swimmers too.

Be on the lookout. When kids are in or near water (including bathtubs), closely supervise them at all times. Adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like playing cards, reading books, talking on the phone, and using alcohol or drugs.

Here are some other resources on water safety.

The Red Cross offers a Water Safety Quiz http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety/quiz

PoolSafely.gov for Parents and Families.

For more water safety resources and fun activities, visit:

 

Let’s Hear it for Fluoridation!

The Centers for Disease Control(CDC) shares the following update about the success of  water fluoridation.

fluoridation

Community Water Fluoridation 70th Anniversary

 Fluoridation began in 1945.  Each generation has enjoyed better oral health than the previous one. Drink fluoridated water if it is available where you live and use fluoride toothpaste.

This year, the United States marks the 70th anniversary of community water fluoridation, one of public health’s greatest success stories.

Almost all water contains some naturally-occurring fluoride, but usually at levels too low to prevent tooth decay. Water fluoridation is the process of adding a small amount of fluoride to public water supplies to a level known to make teeth stronger and prevent cavities. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the first city in the U.S. to fluoridate its water, and by the early 1950’s, results were clear: Compared to school children from nearby areas that did not fluoridate their water, children in Grand Rapids had fewer cavities.

Since then, water fluoridation has been a major factor resulting in lower rates of tooth decay in the United States, with each generation enjoying better oral health than the previous one. As of 2012, more than 210 million people, or 3 in 4 Americans who use public water supplies, drank water with enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay.

Community Water Fluoridation helps maintain good oral health.

Effective and Safe

Fluoridated water is effective, because it keeps a low level of fluoride in the mouth, specifically in the dental plaque and saliva, all day. Even with the use of other fluoride products, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, fluoridated water reduces tooth decay by 25% among children and adults. In communities with water fluoridation, school children have, on average, about 2 fewer decayed teeth compared to children who don’t live in fluoridated communities.

That’s important because oral health affects every aspect of our lives—diet, sleep, mental health, social connections, school, and work. Untreated tooth decay can cause pain, school absences, difficulty concentrating, and poor appearance—all contributing to reduced quality of life and ability to succeed.

Fluoridation has been identified as the most feasible and cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all members of the community, regardless of age, education, or income. These advantages combined with fluoridation’s contribution to dramatic declines in both the prevalence and severity of tooth decay led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to name water fluoridation as one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.

Scientists in the United States and other countries have studied the safety and benefits of fluoridated water for decades, and found no convincing evidence to link water fluoridation and any potential unwanted health effect other than dental fluorosis.

Dental Fluorosis

Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of tooth enamel. It can occur when young children (less than 8 years of age) regularly take in fluoride when their permanent teeth are still developing.

Today there are more sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouth rinse, than when fluoridation was first introduced. With greater availability of fluoride, there has been an increase in the dental fluorosis. Most dental fluorosis in the U.S.—more than 90 percent—appears in its milder forms as white spots on the tooth surface that may not be noticed.

To balance the benefits of fluoridation with the chance for dental fluorosis, the US Public Health Service just published an updated recommendation for the optimal level of fluoride in drinking water to prevent tooth decay[403 KB]. The new recommendation sets the level of fluoride in drinking water at 0.7 mg/liter. This new guidance updates and replaces the previous recommended range of 0.7 mg/L to 1.2 mg/L. It is important to note that there is no federal “requirement” to fluoridate. States and local communities decide whether to fluoridate or not. CDC’s Division of Oral Health does provide technical help and training for state fluoridation programs.

Basic Tips for Good Oral Health

Drink fluoridated water if it is available where you live and use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride’s protection against tooth decay works at all ages. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist, family doctor, or pediatrician if your child needs oral fluoride supplements, like drops, tablets, or lozenges.