Parentelligence Blog

What to tell kids when a loved one is ill or in the hospital

Stephanie Wilding, MS, CCLS

Stephanie Wilding, MS, CCLS
Certified Child Life Specialist

When a loved one in the family is in the hospital or dealing with a chronic illness it can be hard to know what to say to the youngest family members.  It’s natural to want to “protect” them by not telling them or talking to them, but chances are the kids already know that something is going on.  An honest conversation can help to ease any misunderstanding they may have. 

Here are some important areas to cover when navigating a discussion about the illness or hospitalization of a loved one:

  • Honesty – Use words and descriptions that are appropriate for their age. If they are older they may ask specific details about the illness.  It’s good to call the diagnosis by name.  They may come back at a later date with other questions or even ask the same questions more than once. 
  • "Can I catch it?" – Children often have the fear that they can “catch” illnesses. They need to know, if in fact it isn’t a contagious disease, that they can not catch the illness from their loved one by being near them, hugging them and visiting with them.  This is particularly important if it is a brother or sister who is ill.
  • "Did I cause this?" – Many ....

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

Jayne Blackburn, MSN, RN, CCRN

Jayne Blackburn, MSN, RN, CCRN
Pediatric ICU Charge Nurse

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

Howard M. Uman, MD

Howard M. Uman, MD
Pediatric Hospitalist

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 ...

Ketogenic diet as a treatment for seizures

Jenny Schoenfeld, ARNP

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has proven to be effective in the treatment of seizures. In fact, the ketogenic diet is one of the oldest and most effective treatments available for patients with seizures regardless of age, from infancy through adulthood. The ketogenic diet must only be started under direct medical supervision.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the ketogenic diet:

What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a special high-fat diet that often includes heavy cream, butter and vegetable oils to provide the necessary fat. The diet eliminates carbohydrate rich foods such as bread, rice, cereals, pasta, cookies, and cakes.

How effective is the diet at controlling or eliminating seizures?
Studies that have followed children on the diet for long periods reveal that at least 2/3 of all children on the diet have a significant reduction in seizures by over half. 1/3 of children on the diet will have a greater than 90% reduction in seizures, with half of these children ....

Three summer safety tips

Janet Lee, MD

Janet Lee, MD
Pediatric Hospitalist

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

Terrence Cronin, MD

Terrence Cronin, MD
Pediatric Sports and Dance Medicine Physician

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

Don't put that in your mouth

Kathleen Goetz, MD

Kathleen Goetz, MD
Pediatric Emergency Physician

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 ....
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Top Authors

Jennifer Wojciechowski
Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP
Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Robert L. Weinsheimer, MD

Robert L. Weinsheimer, MD
Pediatric General Surgeon

Elizabeth Meade, MD

Elizabeth Meade, MD
Pediatric Hospitalist

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