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When do kids need antibiotics?

Winter can seem like one long continuous “sick day” for families - kids pick up frequent infections at school or daycare and pass them around to everyone at home.  Often it feels like by the time the illness has worked its way through the household, a new one has started!  Even for physicians, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections.  Since antibiotics cannot treat viruses, they are often over-prescribed - which can lead to significant side effects in children and also contributes bacteria becoming resistant to existing medications.  In November 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics released an updated guidance regarding antibiotic treatment, helping answer the frequently asked question about when kids need antibiotics.

Here's what you should know about antibiotics in these situations:

  • Ear infections ...

Healthy tips for parents and kids to help prevent the spread of colds and the flu

Summer has ended, the kids are back in school, and fall is officially here. Which means….cold and flu season is upon us! Hospitals are already seeing documented cases of seasonal influenza. There are no known cures for colds and flu, so cold and flu prevention should be your goal.

Why do we care about preventing influenza? The flu can be very dangerous for children, causing illness, hospital stays and death each year. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports about 20,000 children below the age of 5 are hospitalized from flu complications each year.

The most effective way for preventing the flu is to get the flu shot. It works better than anything else. (Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older). There are additional strategies you can employ to help ward off those nasty viruses.

Here are 6 tips you can use to help prevent colds and the flu:

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....

Croup: coughs that go bark in the night

Croup is a common childhood illness that can be very frightening to a parent or child. It often starts with the symptoms of a mild cold, such as a runny nose, or sore throat. The child goes to bed as usual and then wakes suddenly in the middle of the night with a barking cough. Often they gasp in between the coughs and make a high-pitched noise called stridor when they breathe in.

Thankfully, croup is rarely dangerous. Most children can be treated at home. But it can be a scary illness for both the parent and the child.

It is important to know how to treat croup at home and when to seek help from your doctor or the emergency room....

What is Gastroenteritis?

This past week, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II was hospitalized with a “stomach bug”. Gastroenteritis (also called the “stomach flu”) is the second most common illness in the United States. So, chances are good that your family has been affected by gastroenteritis already this year!

What are the symptoms of gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is inflammation of the stomach and intestines causing symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, and fever. If a person is not able to keep up with fluid losses from diarrhea and vomiting, then they can become dehydrated. Gastroenteritis occurs year-round and affects people of all ages. Those who are young, old, or have a suppressed immune system are more susceptible to severe gastroenteritis and to dehydration.

What causes gastroenteritis?
The majority of cases are caused by a viral infection (occasionally, a bacterial infection) transmitted through contact with another sick person or contaminated food/drink.

I have gastroenteritis, how can I feel better?
Rest and fluids! Staying hydrated is the most important step to controlling gastroenteritis. Some good options for staying hydrated include sports drinks or oral rehydration solutions (such as Pedialyte in drug and grocery stores).

I typically do not recommend any anti-diarrheal medications as this may even prolong the illness. In addition, antibiotic therapy is not helpful unless a specific bacterial cause is identified.

When should I call my doctor?
If you have questions or concerns you should always call your provider. However, things to watch for if you have gastroenteritis include:

Flu information

As you hear more about flu impacting our community, you may wonder what you can do. Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions about the flu from King County Public Health.

Also, during the month of January, Public Health – Seattle & King County is offering free flu vaccinations for people without insurance or who cannot afford to pay. For dates, times, locations and more information, click here.

Flu prevention

  • Flu vaccination is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu. Health experts recommend flu vaccine for all people 6 months and older, especially for pregnant women and other high-risk persons.  Make sure everyone who lives with or cares for an infant younger than 6 months and with pregnant women gets vaccinated to protect the infant from getting flu.
  • You can also take these everyday steps to protect yourself against the flu:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching these areas spreads germs.
    • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Help stop the spread of flu:
    • Cover your nose and mouth with your sleeve or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Stay home from work and school if you are sick until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, and avoid close contact with others.

How to get flu vaccine

  • Flu vaccine (shots and nasal spray) is available at many healthcare provider offices and pharmacies. You can use http://flushot.healthmap.org to help locate it near you.
     

  • To find free or low-cost flu vaccine in King County call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or visit www.parenthelp123.org.

Flu illness and symptoms

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