Johns Creek Pediatrics Blog
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Have you seen it, that yellow film on your freshly washed car? The dreaded spring pollen has arrived! Even if you haven’t SEEN it yet, the Georgia pollen counts are extremely high. Spring time allergies are almost exclusively caused by tree pollen. Georgia’s top contributors are Oak, Pine, Sweet Gum, Juniper and Cottonwood. Not sure if you have an allergy to these trees? Let’s talk about it
Allergic Rhinitis or Hay Fever, as it is commonly called, can cause a myriad of symptoms for about 30% of the population, including children. Most children need to be exposed to 1-2 seasons of pollen before they develop any type of immune response. If your child is under 2 years old, their symptoms are unlikely to be secondary to seasonal allergies. Signs of these seasonal allergies include clear runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and nose, cough, congestion, and scratchy/tickle throat. These symptoms are not accompanied by fever or significant fatigue. For most children, these symptoms are mild and easily managed. We can usually tell in the office with history and examination if your child is suffering from seasonal allergies or an upper respiratory infection, so if you’re unsure, we would be happy to see them!
So, we decided that maybe your child does have allergy symptoms, what can we do about it? How do we treat these bothersome symptoms? We can easily treat them with some lifestyle modifications and some over-the-counter allergy medications (in most cases). We recommend making sure at the end of the day, after being outside, you shower before bedtime and have clean sheets and pillows, to avoid carrying the pollen into the home and extending the exposure. We also recommend second generation antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra. These over the counter anti-histamines are non-drowsy and provide daily relief of some allergy symptoms. One of the most effective treatments includes glucocorticoid nasal sprays (such as Flonase, Nasacort, Rhinocort, etc.). Most of these nasal sprays are safe in kids over the age of 2, but please check product labeling for specific ages and instructions. If your eyes are the most bothersome symptom, sometimes eye drops can be more helpful than the antihistamines and nasal sprays. Look for allergy eye drops that contain ketotifin (Zaditor, Alaway, Children’s Alaway, etc.) and follow the label’s instructions.
If you’ve tried these lifestyle modifications and over the counter medications and your child is still suffering from bothersome symptoms, we recommend a visit to our office! Some children have more complex allergies and require more interventions to relieve their symptoms.
Some great resources:
Suicide prevention, cyberbullying and the toxic society in which we are raising our kids
On Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012, my dear childhood friend’s daughter committed suicide at the age of 15. This was a beautiful girl in a loving, faith-filled family who had a bright future ahead of her. If it can happen to Grace, it can happen to anyone.
Her story is not uncommon. She was cyberbullied by a fellow classmate and friend who raped her and then bragged about it on social media. She was ostracized by peers and the bullying was relentless. Attempts to bring the situation to justice were stonewalled by law officials and school administrators. Her family got her psychiatric help, but the high school peer pressure was overwhelming. Tragically, her only escape was to take her own life.
Her parents have successfully lobbied for anti cyber bullying laws in Maryland where they live. They have established a foundation, G.R.A.C.E. in her honor. Giving Respect and Compassion to Everyone. Hopefully this law and similar laws in other states will allow such situations to be brought to justice. Hopefully this program will bring attention to the toxic environment in which we are raising our children. But none of this will bring Grace back. And there is a giant hole in the hearts of her family, friends and community.
In 2016, suicide was the second leading cause of death among both 10-14 years old (436) and 15-24 years old (5,723) according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
We have an epidemic of anxiety and depression in our youth. I wish we had a vaccination for it! I see more troubled teens today than ear infections and this is a dramatic change during my career. There are many factors, but I believe these are the most common, based on talking to these kids. All of these kids are amazing, talented, gifted, bright with so much to offer the world, yet they don’t see their worth. Why?
- Our society is fixated on achievement and loses sight of the importance of what we do with our gifts and talents. Only one person can be #1. Does that make everyone else a failure. Of course not, but that is the message our kids are getting.
- Our society is fixated on perfection. If this is our aim, we fail every day. Mistakes, imperfections, changes in direction – this is how we learn and grow. It is ok.
- I’m calling out parents, here (myself included). We try to shelter our kids from disappointment. In doing so we deprive them of the ability to solve their own problems and realize that life goes on. We send them a message that they can’t handle the bumps in life and so they don’t.
- Another thing we do is fail to “own” our own imperfections. Point them out to your kids. Let them see you as less than perfect, but willing to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.
- The fixation on achievement (see above) leads to terrible self care, sacrificing nutrition, exercise, sleep and peace in the pursuit of heaven knows what. More items on the resume.
- Social media and media in general add a facet that we as parents didn’t have to deal with growing up. There is no refuge. Social media follows you into your bedroom. It used to be when you got home you were safe from all that. Kids are so vulnerable to feeling left out when others post on social media and they aren’t included. They don’t understand that people only post the best stuff, not the mundane, ordinary stuff of day to day life or their struggles. Sometimes it’s hard to see this as an adult. Imagine your 16 year old self navigating this minefield.
What can we do as parents, friends, teachers, a community?
- Depression is treatable. Don’t let your teen’s depression or anxiety snowball. Talk with your teen about his or her feelings and contact your pediatrician to find solutions.
- It's important for parents to learn about the factors that can put a teen at risk for suicide. The more you know, the better you'll be prepared for understanding what can put your child at risk.
- Major loss (i.e., break up or death)
- Substance use
- Peer or social pressure
- Access to weapons
- Public humiliation
- Severe chronic pain
- Chronic medical condition
- Family history of suicide
If your instinct tells you that a teenager might be a danger to himself, heed your instincts and don't allow him to be left alone. In this situation, it is better to overreact than to underreact. See How to Communicate With and Listen to Your Teen.
Never shrug off threats of suicide as typical teenage melodrama.
Any written or verbal statement of "I want to die" or "I don't care anymore" should be treated seriously. Often, children who attempt suicide had been telling their parents repeatedly that they intended to kill themselves. Most research supports that people who openly threaten suicide don't really intend to take their own lives; and that the threat is a desperate plea for help. While that is true much of the time, what mother or father would want to risk being wrong?
Any of these other red flags warrants your immediate attention and action by seeking professional help right away:
- "Nothing matters."
- "I wonder how many people would come to my funeral?"
- "Sometimes I wish I could just go to sleep and never wake up."
- "Everyone would be better off without me."
- "You won't have to worry about me much longer."
When a teenager starts dropping comments like the ones above or comes right out and admits to feeling suicidal, try not to react with shock ("What are you, crazy?!") or scorn ("That's a ridiculous thing to say!"). Above all, don't tell him or her, "You don't mean that!." Be willing to listen nonjudgmentally to what he or she is really saying, which is: "I need your love and attention because I'm in tremendous pain, and I can't seem to stop it on my own."
To see your child so troubled is hard for any parent. Nevertheless, the immediate focus has to be on consoling; you'll tend to your feelings later. In a calm voice, you might say,"I see. You must really, really be hurting inside."
Seek professional help right away.
If your teenager's behavior has you concerned, don't wait to contact your pediatrician. Contact a local mental health provider who works with children to have your child or youth evaluated as soon as possible so that your son or daughter can start therapy or counseling if he or she is not in danger of self-harm. However, call your local mental health crisis support team or go to your local emergency room if you think your child is actively suicidal and in danger of self-harm.
Share your feelings.
Let your teen know he or she is not alone and that everyone feels sad or depressed or anxious now and then, including moms and dads. Without minimizing his anguish, be reassuring that these bad times won't last forever. Things truly will get better and you will help get your child through counseling and other treatment to help make things better for him or her..
Encourage your teen not isolate himself or herself from family and friends.
It's usually better to be around other people than to be alone. But don't push if he says no.
Recommend prayer and support from your faith family.
If your faith life is important to you and your child, this is an amazing gift. You can remind your child that no matter the circumstance, God is in control. God can bring meaning out of any circumstance and is always merciful and forgiving. Encourage your son or daughter to dive deeper into his or her faith life to fill the holes that can never be achieved by the pursuit of worldly success.
Physical activity as simple as walking or as vigorous as pumping iron can put the brakes on mild to moderate depression.
Urge your teen not to demand too much of himself or herself.
Until therapy begins to take effect, this is probably not the time to assume responsibilities that could prove overwhelming. Suggest that he or she divide large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones whenever possible and participate in favorite, low-stress activities. The goal is to rebuild confidence and self-esteem.
Remind your teen who is undergoing treatment not to expect immediate results.
Talk therapy and/or medication usually take time to improve mood. Your child shouldn't become discouraged if he or she doesn't feel better right away.
If you keep guns at home, store them safely or move all firearms elsewhere until the crisis has passed.
- Fact: Suicide by firearm among American youth topped a 12-year high in 2013, with most of the deaths involving a gun belonging to a family member, according to a report from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Any of these deaths may have been prevented if a gun wasn't available.
If you suspect your child might be suicidal, it is extremely important to keep all firearms, alcohol, and medications under lock and key.
We are here to help. Please contact us if you have concerns about your child’s mental health. We screen for depression at your annual well check, but that is only once a year. The dialogue must be ongoing.
I want to prevent tragedies such as what happened to my friend and her beautiful daughter, Grace.
- Mental Health and Teens: Watch for Danger Signs
- Which Kids are at the Highest Risk for Suicide?
- Talking About 13 Reasons Why & Teen Suicide: Tips for Parents
- Adolescent Depression: What Parents Can Do To Help
- ON Facebook: Grace K. McComas Memorial Webpage
Life is busy and having a sick or injured child on top of everything else can be really overwhelming. Many parents aren’t exactly sure where to take their little one for medical care. It can be really confusing with all the different options available these days. Well, we are here to help! Here are some tips to help you decide.
When should I take my child to the PEDIATRICIAN?
One of our friendly providers at Johns Creek Pediatrics would love to see your child for their well checks and medical conditions that are not emergencies. So, what are medical conditions that aren’t considered emergencies you ask... well here are a few examples: coughs, colds, ear aches, foreign objects in ears and noses, pink eye, and sore throats. Click here to see all the services we provide. If there is something else and you are not sure if it is something we will treat, just call us and we will let you know! We want you to think of us first, we are your medical home! We are open 7:30 am to 6 pm Monday- Thursday, 7:30 to 5 pm on Fridays, and 9 am to 11:30 am on Saturdays. Did you know we offer walk in visits, same day appointments, and telemedicine?
When should I take my child to an URGENT CARE CENTER?
We recommend going to an urgent care center if we are not open and your child has a non-emergency medical condition that you think may worsen if they are not seen before our office will be open next. If it is something that can wait, we prefer you come in to our office because we know your child best!
If you decide to go to an urgent care center, we recommend going to one of the local Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta urgent care centers. Children’s has a helpful app you can download that shows all of its locations and provides wait times- here is a link to download the app for iOS or android.
When should I take my child to the EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT?
Your child should go to the ER if they are experiencing an emergency. Some examples of emergencies include: difficulty breathing, fever of >100.4 F in a child younger than 2 months old, loss of consciousness, seizure, or severe bone fracture.
Just thinking about having to take your child to an ER can be scary. But one thing that can help you breathe a little easier is to remember that luckily there are 3 pediatric ERs in Atlanta designed just for kids. We recommend your child go to one of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Emergency Departments where there are health care providers who are specifically trained to treat pediatric patients.
When should I call 911?
Hopefully you will never have to call 911 for your child but just in case…we recommend you call 911 any time you believe a child needs immediate medical treatment. A list of some examples include: severe difficulty breathing, skin or lips that look blue, seizure, unresponsiveness, or a severe stiff neck accompanied by headache and fever.
If you aren’t sure if it is an emergency or not please call us at 770-814-1160, even if we aren’t open. We always have someone on call you can speak with to help you determine if you need to call 911, go the emergency department, urgent care, or come in to your friends at Johns Creek Pediatrics.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017, April 24). Is It A Medical Emergency or Not? Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/health-management/Pages/Is-It-a-Medical-Emergency-or-Not.aspx
First Aid for Families. (2018, May 2). When to Call Emergency Medical Services (EMS). Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/injuries-emergencies/Pages/When-to-Call-Emergency-Medical-Services-EMS.aspx
What are the symptoms of measles?
Rubeola, commonly known as measles, is a virus that causes high fevers, widespread rash, and respiratory symptoms. It begins as a cough, conjunctivitis (red eyes), and coryza (stuffy/runny nose) for about 2-3 days. After that, a rash appears on the face and hairline then spreads to the rest of the body over an average span of 3 days. Additionally, white spots may pop up on the inside of the cheeks; usually back by the bottom molars.
Why is measles such a big deal?
Measles can be quite serious. Infected individuals are susceptible to secondary infections, such as pneumonia and appendicitis. They can also experience diarrhea that can lead to significant dehydration and possibly hospitalization. 246 children worldwide die every day from measles due to secondary issues such as these. The gravest complication that can result from the measles virus is a rare process called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. It causes inflammation in the brain that is typically fatal in 6-12 months. The only cure is prevention through vaccines. It is rumored that subacute sclerosing panencephalitis can result from the measles vaccine but much research has proven that not to be true. The vaccine is made of an attenuated virus, meaning that the virus has been weakened so that it cannot cause disease. An attenuated virus cannot cause any of the complications that result from a fully active measles virus.
How contagious is the measles?
Measles is one of the most contagious childhood viruses. It is spread through things like coughing and sneezing. It is so contagious that 90% of unvaccinated people will become infected if they are exposed. It was considered an eradicated disease in 2000 but we have since seen outbreaks in the US due to low vaccination rates and international travel. The CDC has reported 79 cases of measles from 10 states since January 1, 2019. Georgia is one of the 10 states with confirmed cases.
What can you do to protect your child from measles?
This all sounds really scary but the great news is that this disease is preventable with vaccines. The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is typically given at 1 year and again at 4-6 years of age but the second dose can be given earlier in special circumstances, like exposure or travel to an area with high prevalence. No child should suffer unnecessarily from an illness that could be avoided. Talk to us about protecting your child from this preventable disease.
Measles (Rubeola). (2019, January 28). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html
S. (2014, June 17). Retrieved from https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=752&language=English
Hay, W. W. (2012). Current diagnosis & treatment: Pediatrics(23rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Medical.
Unfortunately, it is flu season here in Georgia and flu can be a very serious illness, even in previously healthy children. It can lead to serious complications resulting in pneumonia, hospitalizations, and sadly even death. The best way to protect your child from the flu is to vaccinate him or her and encourage everyone around him or her to do the same.
Who should get the vaccine?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the flu shot for everyone ages 6 months of age and up every flu season. The first year that a child receives a flu shot (up through age 8), they need two doses, separated by at least 4 weeks. At our practice, we offer the influenza vaccine rather than the flumist (nasal spray) because it has been found to be more effective in past years and it is still the preferred vaccine for the 2018-2019 season according to the AAP.
Can you get the actual flu from the flu shot?
The most common side effect of the flu shot is soreness at the sight of injection. Low-grade fever, headache, and muscle aches are less common but can also occur for a few days after getting the shot; however, there is no live flu virus in the vaccine and it cannot actually cause you to get the flu.
But, sometimes it doesn’t seem to work…
Each year, flu viruses change and the vaccine is formulated to protect from the types of flu that are expected to cause disease in the upcoming year. Some years the flu shot works better than others at preventing disease; however, even if it doesn’t prevent your child from getting the flu, it can make the illness less severe and decrease chances of hospitalization. And, the good news this year is that preliminary data shows that the flu vaccine seems to be a good match this year to the circulating strains.
So, what should I do?
It takes about 2 weeks from vaccination for your body’s immune response to fully be ready to fight off the flu. So, if you or your kiddos haven’t yet gotten yours, call our office and schedule an appointment today. We offer the flu shot to parents as well. And, if you already have gotten yours, thank you for taking important steps to protect your children and others in our community!