Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Febrile Seizures

Seizures are a frightening side effect of fevers that can occur in some children.  “Febrile seizures” occur in 2 to 4 percent of children under age 5. Approximately one in every 25 children will have at least one febrile seizure, and some of them will have additional febrile seizures before they outgrow the tendency to have them.  Febrile seizures tend to run in families and are more common in boys than girls.  They may cause jerking movements in the body or look like “passing out.”  Some children may feel sleepy afterward, and others feel no lasting effects. 

While they are frightening, febrile seizures usually end without treatment and do not cause other health problems. For example, they do not mean that a child will have epilepsy or brain damage. A high fever can cause seizures, but they are usually caused by a sudden or rapid elevation in temperature, even if it is a small amount.  Reducing fever does not prevent seizures, and most occur during the first day of a child’s fever. Children may have a febrile seizure before it is known that they have a fever.  This type of seizure affects the entire body, not just one side.

If a child has a seizure, put the child on his or her side on a protected surface.  Do NOT put anything in the child’s mouth.  A person who is seizing cannot swallow their tongue and usually are breathing.  Do not try to hold or restrain the child.  These seizures normally last less than 5 minutes, some are as brief as a few seconds. If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, call 911.  After the seizure is over, you may give the child fever-reducing medications, or put them in lukewarm water to cool them off.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Facts You May Not Know

·         Exposure to sun mobilizes nitric oxide (neurotransmitter) and helps lower blood pressure.
·         One third of new drugs require additional safety warnings, even after they have been approved.
·         One study shows that men who drank sodas daily increased their risk of gout by 45 percent.
·         Red onions are higher in phytonutrients than are white onions.
·         Birth control pills are linked with an increased risk of depression.
·         Low vitamin D and calcium may increase risk of early menopause.
·         Stroke rates are declining among older people, but are increasing in the 25-44 age group.
·         Mothers who eat a lot of sugar during pregnancy can cause a higher risk of allergies and allergic asthma in their babies.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Why Do Some People Sweat More Than Others?

The reasons why some people sweat a lot while others stay dry are not completely understood.  Sweat glands are located all over the body and are concentrated in the palms of the hands, the armpits, and the soles of the feet.  Sweating is a natural process.  Most people sweat because they are too hot, and as the water from the sweat evaporates, it cools them off, keeps the skin hydrated, and helps maintain the body’s balance of electrolytes and salts. Sweating can also be triggered by stress.  Excessive sweating occurs when a gland cluster is over-activated by very little stimulation, and the “faucet” cannot be turned off.

Less fit people tend to sweat more, but fit people start sweating earlier during equivalent exercise.  Nervousness, many medications, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and even eating spicy foods can increase sweat production.   Obese people seem to sweat more, but there is no good research on why this is true.  In an estimated 1% to 3% of people the sweating cannot be turned off, and this condition is known as hyperhidrosis.  These people have a hard time taking a test on paper and are reluctant to turn in school work or paperwork at their job because they smudge the paper.

Healthy, but sweaty people, should dress in loose, natural fabrics and use an over-the-counter aluminum-based antiperspirant on super-sweaty areas.  If the problem persists, a prescription antiperspirant with a higher aluminum content may be necessary.  Showering and changing clothes frequently may be necessary.  Perspiring heavily during sleep or only in one area of the body signals that you may need to see a physician.

Iontophoresis or drionics is one of the most controversial of all methods to stop sweating.  It is reported to be about 85% effective.  The therapy machine is a battery powered device designed to stop excessive perspiration.  It sends a very weak electrical current to shock and temporarily disable sweat glands.  Most machines allow adjustment of the voltage.  It is most commonly used for hand or foot sweating, but there is an attachment for underarm sweating.  Some people say this therapy is slightly uncomfortable, but not painful and consider it very effective. Others say nothing happened even after weeks of use. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Deodorants and Antiperspirants

Until human perspiration or sweat is fermented by bacteria that grow in hot, humid environments, it is largely odorless.  Bacterial breakdown of perspiration occurs in armpits, feet, and other areas of the body.  The human underarm is warm and the sweat glands provide moisture, making it an ideal location for bacterial fermentation.  Antiperspirants tackle wetness; deodorants tackle odor.  Deodorants are classified and regulated by the FDA and are considered cosmetics.  If the deodorants are combined with antiperspirant agents, they are classified by the FDA as drugs.

Deodorants address the sweat glands that cause odor by using formulas that eliminate or mask that odor.  They often provide an additional scent, and there are some products that address both odor and wetness.  Antiperspirants are applied to the underarm, and should be applied at night before bed when people are sweating the least.  Deodorants may be used on the feet and other areas of the body as well as the underarm.  They are applied after a morning shower. 

There is a myth that if you cannot smell the deodorant, it is not working.  Women frequently apply deodorant several times during the day.  They carry the deodorant in their car, in a purse, or at work.  Most shoppers consider that a product’s scent is a sign that it is effective.  Scent is not an indication of whether the product has failed.  It can still be battling odor and wetness even if a person cannot smell it.

Many people are concerned about aluminum, the active ingredient in many antiperspirants, but studies do not give clear answers.  Natural deodorants are increasing in popularity and may be more expensive.  There are over-the-counter products labeled as “natural deodorant crystal” and contain potassium alum or ammonium alum.  Unfortunately both alums also contain some aluminum.  Deodorants and antiperspirants are available in a stick, cream, or a spray.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Insect Repellants

Because of the increase in outdoor activities during the summer, insect repellants are frequently used in addition to measures taken to reduce the number of insects present in the outdoor environment. Mosquitoes can be a serious problem because they are vectors for diseases than can occur in parts of the US,.  Control measures include wearing appropriate clothing, use of insect repellants, reducing the risk of mosquito bites, and limiting outdoor activities.  An ideal insect repellent should have efficacy against a large number of arthropods and adequate duration of effect.  It should be nonirritating, nontoxic, cosmetically acceptable, cost-effective, chemically stable, and should not stain or damage clothing.

DEET:  broad-spectrum efficacy against mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, gnats, and some flies; no evidence that concentrations above 50% increase effectiveness.  Products containing up to 30% are recommended for children.  DEET may damage clothing and plastics.

IR3535:  available in US in concentrations of 7.5% to 20%; must be higher than 7.5% to protect against mosquitoes.  Many products containing IR3535 also contain sunscreen.  These should be avoided since sunscreen is applied more often than repellent.

Picaridin:  used extensively in Europe and Australia; is odorless, low risk for irritation, does not damage clothing, and has no reports for toxicity.  Concentration of 10% in a product recommended.

Oil of lemon eucalyptus:  effective against malaria causing mosquitoes for 6 hours.  Not recommended for use in children under 3 years of age.

Catmint and other essential oils:  limited protection against mosquitoes; good safety profiles.  High concentrations that might irritate skin required for good efficiency

Citronella:  efficiency against mosquitoes usually lasts less than an hour; little evidence of efficacy against other arthropods.

Recommendations for use of insect repellents:
·         Parents should read and follow repellent instructions carefully.
·         Products should be applied to clothing and exposed skin only.
·         Spray formulations should be applied outdoors to minimize inhalant exposure.
·         When returning indoors, the skin should be washed with soap and water.
·         Clothing exposed to repellents should be laundered before wearing again.

Check next blog for specific recommended insect repellents.

Recommended Insect Repellents

The following commercial products are recommended by some pediatricians.  Discuss the use of any insecticide with your child’s pediatrician and read the label for active ingredients.

All Terrain Kids Herbal Armor:  11.5% soybean oil; 10.0%  oil of citronella; 2.0% peppermint  
                                                     oil; 1.5% cedar oil; 1.0% lemon grass oil; 0.05% geranium oil

Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus:  Picaridin – 10%

Avon Skin-So-Soft Original Bath Oil:  None stated

Ben’s 30% DEET Tick and Insect Wilderness Formula:  DEET -30%

Burt’s Bees Herbal:  10% castor oil; 3.77% rosemary oil; 2.83% lemon grass oil; 0.94% cedar

Monday, January 30, 2017

Marijuana Myths

Marijuana is a complex situation because its legal status frequently and rapidly changes.  A high percentage of teens report having used it in a survey beginning with 8th graders.  “Medical marijuana” is available in 23 states.  However, there are many myths surrounding marijuana and its use.  All parents and teens should be aware of these myths.

·         Myth #1 Marijuana is a medicine.  Marijuana itself is not a medicine. Chemicals in marijuana have been extracted and used as a medicine to help nausea and vomiting in adult cancer patients. There are no Food and Drug Administration approved indications for medical marijuana.  Adolescents are affected differently by marijuana than are adults.
·         Myth #2 Marijuana is safe.  Drops in IQ are reported in adulthood if youth are dependent on marijuana before they are 18.  Even if smoking is light and even if the youth stops smoking, brain abnormalities occur and increase with use.  These are not seen in individuals who begin marijuana smoking as an adult.  Accompanying these brain abnormalities are symptoms such as changes in motivation, decision making, attention, functioning of memory, and processing of emotions. 
·         Myth #3 Marijuana can help mood symptoms. There is also no evidence that THC or other cannabinoids are useful in the treatment of mood or anxiety symptoms in adolescents.  Marijuana may worsen several psychiatric problems.  Using marijuana as an adolescent may significantly increase risk of developing schizophrenia as adults.
·         Myth #4 Marijuana has no effect on school work.  There are risks of long-term cognitive changes and psychiatric problems that can affect school performance.  Frequent marijuana use can cause grades to drop, which can in interfere with completion of high school or college.
·         Myth #5 Marijuana is not addictive.  Unfortunately marijuana is addictive and studies show that nearly 9% of users will become addicted and can be as high as 50% in daily users.  Again, risks are higher for adolescents.  Remember that addiction describes continued use despite that use causing significant legal, social, or school and work problems.
·         Myth #6 Marijuana does not affect driving.  Marijuana causes increased risk of accidents by slowing down motor coordination, judgment, and reaction time, similar to alcohol use.
            Driving while intoxicated – even with legal use marijuana – is a criminal offense.

Both parents and youth should be aware of the facts surrounding marijuana, including the fact that over the years, the potency of marijuana has increased because of changes in its processing.  

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Winter Hazard – Ice-Melt Products

Winter is on its way, and with winter comes chemicals used to melt ice.  They cover roads, sidewalks, and driveways.  Dogs may eat them and for a certainty, walk through them, posing a problem with both oral ingestion and dermal contact.  We protect our cars from products containing salt, but allow our dogs to walk unprotected.  Many ice-melt products contain a salt that can become lodged between a dog’s pads, where it heats up, sometimes enough to cause burns.  The dog licks his paws because of the pain, and the salt gets on his lips and tongue.  It can irritate his gastrointestinal system also, and large amounts can trigger seizures and other symptoms.

There are many brands of ice-melts, but the major ingredients are salts including sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium salts (calcium carbonate, calcium magnesium acetate, and calcium chloride).  They may also contain urea based products.  The salts are the most severe irritants of all the ingredients in ice-melts and larger amounts can trigger severe symptoms in a pet.  Urea based ice melts are safer, but can trigger symptoms in large amounts.  Care must be exercised by people who have dogs, but neighbors who have dogs must also be considered.

If you use an ice-melt product in the winter, be certain of the ingredients.  Those safe for pets may be more expensive.  Many veterinarians recommend covering a pet’s paws with booties before a walk and wiping off the paws with a wet cloth as soon as you return to the house.  Also be sure the dog has access to water and is not dehydrated.  This will lessen the harm of the product.