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What to do if you suspect your child has an ear infection

Ear infections are the most common illness in kids. Almost every child will have at least one ear infection by the age of 5. What do you do when your child complains of ear pain?

Ear pain in children is most often caused by a middle ear infection. These infections often follow an upper respiratory illness, like a cold or the flu. Common symptoms include fever, ear pain and irritability, like not sleeping through the night. It is possible for the buildup of pressure from fluid and infection behind the eardrum to cause the eardrum to rupture. In this situation you will most likely see drainage from the ear.

What should you do if you suspect your child has an ear infection?

  • Treat the pain. Ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are best.
  • Have a doctor look in your child’s ear to confirm an ear infection.
  • Decide with your doctor...

Helping kids eat, thrive, and grow

Is your child under the age of 6 and having problems with feeding or weight gain? Swedish’s GAINS program can help you and your pediatrician by doing a full assessment and providing specific recommendations. The Growth and Integrated Nutrition Service at Swedish (GAINS) is a multidisciplinary program, which includes doctors, nurses, dietitians, behavioral specialists, and feeding therapists.

There are many medical conditions that lead to growth and nutrition problems in children. We are experts at working with children with:

  • Feeding difficulties
  • Poor weight gain
  • Malnutrition
  • Failure to thrive
  • Prematurity
  • Children with feeding tubes
  • Aspiration
  • Breastfeeding Difficulties

Here are some frequently asked questions about the GAINS program:

Increasing Your Child’s Comfort with Nitrous Oxide

You may be familiar with “laughing gas” as something you find at the dentist’s office but did you know it can also be used when your child is a patient at Swedish? Laughing gas is a mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen, but you might hear your pediatric nurses just call it “nitrous.” In pediatrics, we use it to help a patient relax and feel more comfortable during certain procedures such as IV placement or urinary catheterization.

Once your doctor or nurse has determined that your child is a good candidate for nitrous (without any contraindications such as conditions where air may be trapped in the body, pregnancy, or impaired level of consciousness), your nurses and certified child life specialist (CCLS) will explain the process: Your child will choose a flavor for the inside of their mask used to administer the gas. They will be on a stretcher or bed and have a saturation probe attached to a finger to monitor their oxygenation. One nurse will administer oxygen, then the nitrous, gradually increasing the amount until your child is suitably relaxed for the procedure, while remaining responsive to directions. Another clinician will perform the procedure, e.g., place the IV. A doctor is also available.

As a parent ...

Flu vaccine for children

A lot of parents have questions about the flu vaccine and many parents refuse the vaccine as they feel it does not very effective. Some parents are concerned about vaccines in general and refuse vaccinating their child as they don’t want to administer “another vaccine” to their child. The best way to prevent getting flu is by vaccination.

What is flu (Influenza)?

Flu (influenza) is not just a common cold or a stomach virus as most people think. Influenza usually occurs during the winter in our region although it can occur all year around in other parts of the world. It can be a serious respiratory illness that can lead to complications especially in children and older adults. Symptoms are generally similar to any other common cold infections and can vary from fever, runny nose, nose congestion, cough, body aches and headaches. The body aches and headaches are mostly reported by older children and adults. Children may not be able to explain their symptoms and may just be fussy.

Most children get over the flu without any complications. In some children and adults, however, it can lead to serious complications including pneumonia.

How to prevent the flu:

Influenza is ...

Hernias: why are some watched while others are repaired?

The most common thing that I see as a pediatric surgeon is a child with a lump that is thought to be a hernia. A hernia is a bulging of tissue through an opening in the muscle layers that isn’t normally present. In children, these openings are usually the result of a developmental process that just didn’t quite reach completion. Some hernias need surgery emergently, while others are observed for years with the expectation that they will close on their own.

Here are some pointers to help understand this wide range of approaches to hernias:

Location is very important in considering how aggressive to be with hernias. Belly button (umbilical) hernias are...

Fixing Chest Wall Deformities: A Minimally Invasive Option

Pectus excavatum often referred to as either "sunken" or "funnel" chest is the most common congenital chest wall deformity affecting up to one in a thousand children. It results from excessive growth of the cartilage between the ribs and the breast bone (sternum) leading to a sunken (concave) appearance of the chest.

(Image source)

Although present at birth, this usually becomes much more obvious after a child undergoes a growth spurt in their early teens. Pectus excavatum can range from mild to quite severe with the moderate to severe cases involving compression of the heart and lungs. It may not cause any symptoms, however, children with pectus excavatum often report exercise intolerance (shortness of breath or tiring before peers in sports), chest pain, heart problems, and body image difficulties. The last issue deserves some attention as children often are reluctant to discuss how the appearance of their chest affects their self-esteem globally. There is a bias even within the medical community to dismiss the appearance component of pectus excavatum as merely "cosmetic", but I view the surgery to fix this congenital defect as corrective and support the idea that the impact of its appearance should be considered. I have seen patients emotionally transformed in ways that they and their families never expected.

Thanks in great part to the pioneering work of Dr. Donald Nuss (a now retired pediatric surgeon in Virginia), we have a well-proven minimally invasive option to correct pectus excavatum: the Nuss bar procedure. This involves ...

No One is Too Young for a Hearing Test!

How young is too young for a hearing test?

Your child is never too young for a hearing test! Different ages require special considerations, but children of all ages can have their hearing tested. Most children born in Washington State receive a hearing test before being discharged from the hospital.

Hearing tests are painless and encouraged for all newborns. According to statistics, approximately 3 in 1000 births will result in permanent hearing loss. Additionally, chronic ear infections, speech and language concerns and some illnesses and infections may lead your child to need a test.

You may remember having your hearing screened as a child at school. Hearing tests have come a long way from the traditional method of wearing headphones and raising a hand in response to a tone! Hearing is assessed using different tools and techniques based on the age of a child...

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