Dec 11, 2018

Dr. Gellner: I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner and the people at The Scope have advised me that it's my five year anniversary of recording for them. Yay. And they've asked me my thoughts on the top five most concerning pediatric topics according to parents.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering the "Healthy Kids Zone" with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: At number five It's Not Strep Throat, It's Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease. It still surprises me how many non-pediatric providers aren't familiar with hand-foot-mouth, but I think it's becoming more recognizable now. I actually think it should be called hand-foot-butt-mouth disease because of how many kids get a rash on their bottoms in addition to their palms and soles. Again, good news is this is a virus and it's self-limited, only requiring pain control and lots of fluids to keep kids hydrated. Bad news is you can get it more than once.

Number four is croup. It's ironic that this one made the list, because we started croup season just a few weeks ago, it seems. That unmistakable dog or seal barky cough that makes most parents sit up straight in bed and ask, "Did that noise just come out of my child?" It's been a familiar sound at our house, that's for sure. When my kids were younger, I became an expert at sitting out in the cold with them, both of us huddled under a blanket waiting for the cold air to help with airway swelling and cranking up the steam in a bathroom. A humidifier was always going in the bedroom. Luckily, croup is one of those things kids eventually outgrow.

Number three is another frequent question. Why is My Child Sick All the Time? Is there something wrong with their immune system? What can I give them to boost their immune system? Are they low on vitamins?" I seem to have this conversation at least once a week, if not more. And the good news is that in about 99.9% of cases, the answer is, your child is an infant, toddler, preschooler, is in elementary school, and they're getting exposed to all sorts of viruses all the time and everyone they come in contact with makes them sick.

Kids in this age range get six to eight viral illnesses a year, each lasting two to three weeks and while, yes, it's a royal pain, it's vital to help them build their immune systems. As they get older, their immune system will be familiar with these viruses and they won't get as sick. But for now, there isn't an issue with their immune systems. It's unlikely that they are low on vitamins with how so many common foods that kids like are fortified with vitamins and minerals especially cereals. And no, there is no good immune system booster that has been proven effective in scientific studies. You'd think I'd have an immune system like a steel fortress by now, but unfortunately, viruses are tricky and they change so we all still get sick and our body does its best.

Number two also wasn't a big surprise. It's Myths and Facts About Fevers. Fever phobia is something that I talk about on a daily basis with parents. Fevers can be really scary even to those of us doctors who are parents and know when to worry. But the thing to remember is that fevers are actually a good thing. They let us know our child's immune system is ramping up and fighting whatever badness is making them sick. However, if their fever is super high, like the 106.9 I saw on a child not long ago, or they have other concerning symptoms like dehydration, rashes that look like sunburns, they're under three months old and have any fever of 100.4 or higher, that's emergency room time.

Coming in at number one is When to Take a Vomiting Child to the Doctor. I'm not surprised that this one made the list. It seems that there are viruses year-round now causing kids to puke. And as we know, diarrhea often follows. It's hard to figure out when to take kids in to the doctor versus when to just tough it out at home with electrolyte drinks. Key to this one is if they stop peeing at least once every eight hours, look really lethargic, and they can't keep even small sips of fluids down, it's time to be seen.

So those are the top five pieces out of the over 200 that I've recorded. Keep listening for more tips on how to keep your kids happy and healthy.

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