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What to expect when your child is in the Pediatric ICU (PICU)

Just the mere mention of the Pediatric ICU (PICU) can be frightening to both kids and parents.  But having a basic understanding of what people and equipment can be found in the PICU can help to lessen the anxiety.

What is the PICU?

The PICU at Swedish is a section of the hospital that provides the highest level of medical care for your child (0 to 18 years).  The PICU is different than just the regular pediatric floor because it allows for more intensive nursing care of your child and advanced continuous monitoring of their blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and more.  Patients in the PICU may also require more intensive therapies such as ventilators (a breathing machine) and certain medications that require close monitoring.

Who is hospitalized in the PICU?

Kids who are seriously ill whose medical needs cannot be met on the regular Pediatric unit will be in the PICU.  PICU patients may have breathing problems such as asthma or pneumonia, have had a lengthy surgery, have seizures or any other physical condition.  Time spent in the PICU depends on....

Wheezing in children

Wheezing is one of the most common symptoms in children and adults. Wheezing refers to the high pitched, "musical" sounds generated from the respiratory tract. It may originate in multiple areas, from the nose, to the throat, to the lungs. When physicians use the term "wheezing", they are usually indicating the sounds produced by tightness in the lower airways ("bronchial tubes").

Wheezing is especially important in pediatrics because children have frequent respiratory infections. These infections are generally caused by viral infections which cause much irritation in the airways. In addition, the airways of children are small and more "sensitive," predisposing them to wheezing. The location of the irritation may be in the upper or lower respiratory tract. This means that wheezing can occur with just a cold as well as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Wheezing in most children will respond to treatment with ...

Three summer safety tips

Summer is a wonderful time of year to be active outdoors. Sunny days provide so many fun activities for children to get exercise and stay healthy. While enjoying the warm weather, it’s important to be aware of potential injuries and take the necessary precautions to keep kids safe. Here are three summer safety tips to keep in mind:

Helmets

Kids should always wear a helmet while riding a bike, skateboard, scooter or in-line skates. Helmets can prevent traumatic brain injury and save lives!  A child should wear a helmet on short or long rides (no one can ever predict when an injury may occur).

Make sure the helmet meets safety standards and fits appropriately.  The helmet should be worn level on the head, covering the forehead.  The strap should be tightened enough to allow only two fingers between the chin and strap.  As a parent, make sure to be a good role model for your child and wear a helmet.

Open Windows

It is common to open windows during hot days to allow for cool fresh air.  For kids, the screen is a misleading barrier between the indoors and outdoors.  Screens are meant to pop off easily in the case of an emergency.  A child leaning against a screen ...

4 tips to prevent injuries in sports

How do you prevent sports related injuries? Here are four tips:

Don't put that in your mouth

Most parents have experienced a child swallowing something that was not intended to be put in the mouth. Most of the time it turns out to be okay, but not always.  It is always a good idea to check in with your doctor or Poison Control (800-222-1222).

When to worry and what to do if your child swallows...

 

Detergent pods – such as Tide or Cascade
These packets may look like candy but can cause lots of problems, and symptoms may be delayed for 1-3 days: 

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach aches. 
  • Burns to the mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach. 
  • Scarring or perforation of the esophagus and stomach. 
  • Burns to the cornea of the eye.

Magnets

  • New “rare earth” magnets such as Buckyballs have stronger attractive properties
  • Attraction across ....

Family Meals with Young Children

Many parents don’t realize how much eating meals together as a family helps their children’s development and well-being in addition to being known to reduce the risk of obesity and improve the nutrition of children. Eating meals together is a valuable lesson and practice in sharing. By eating the same foods, hearing about someone else’s day, and telling stories, kids learn to compromise and show respect. Sitting around the table with the family is a great setting for children to see how they are a part of something bigger than just themselves.

When you have young children, it is a key time to start eating meals as a family and develop this lifetime habit. Even babies old enough to sit in a high chair but not old enough to eat everything everyone else is eating will benefit from joining the family at the table.

Here are some tips to make mealtimes more pleasant with young ones:

How to prepare your child for surgery

Surgery can be a stress and anxiety producing event for anyone, let alone a child. At Swedish, Child Life Specialists help children and families cope with the surgery process. Child Life Specialists are available to help educate and prepare children and families prior to surgery in our outpatient surgery center.

There are some things you can do as a parent to help better prepare yourself and your child for surgery before coming to the hospital:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider to educate yourself about the surgery process and what to expect.
  • Talk to your child in advance about their surgery in an honest, matter-of-fact manner. Younger children need to start hearing about their upcoming surgery 2-3 days prior to their visit. School age and teenage children can handle talking about their surgery a few weeks in advance. Using books and similar resources can be helpful in talking to your child about their surgery.
  • Offer children some control wherever possible. Have your child ....
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