Your body sends you signals of its health and well-being every day. Are you listening?
You Give Me Fever
So, is it “feed a fever, starve a cold?” or “starve a fever, feed a cold”? The answer is … neither! The Doctors agree that in both cases, eating sensibly, drinking lots of fluids and getting lots of rest is the best way to get on the road to recovery. Dr. Jim explains how a fever works. See the clip here!
A Cacophony of Coughs
When your child comes down with a cough, how can you tell the difference between a harmless hack and a dangerous wheeze? Dr. Jim deciphers audio clips of four different types of coughs. Hear for yourself!
Types of coughs:
This type of cough is common with the flu or an upper respiratory infection. Dr. Jim suggests that parents let their children cough during the day to get all the mucous and phlegm out, but use humidifiers or cough suppressants at night to help them sleep.
This type of cough is phlegmy, mucousy and often accompanies bronchitis. Try to avoid cough suppressants, as the lungs are doing their job of expelling the offending germs!
This type of cough is usually accompanied by a stridor, which sounds like a high-pitched, almost musical sound when the child inhales and indicates croup, which is an inflammation of the vocal cords. Croup can become dangerous very quickly if the vocal cords swell to the point where the child can’t breathe, so make sure to call your physician immediately. Croup is usually treated with steroid medications and home remedies such as a hot, steamy shower and humidifier.
This type of cough isn’t heard too often because children are immunized against whooping cough. Although it can be treated with antibiotics, it can be fatal, so it is important to stay up-to-date on a vaccination schedule.
School Day or Sick Day?
How can you tell when your child is well enough to go to school or sick enough to stay home? Consider how your child looks and acts, as well as whether they will be contagious to other children. Dr. Jim says that his general rule of thumb is that if your child looks and acts OK, then feel free to pack him or her off to school. However, if your child looks sickly or acts lethargic, tired or isn’t eating - then tuck him or her into bed. And if your child has a fever, doctor’s orders are to stay home!
Muddling Through Mucous
Dr. Jim explains that the color of the mucous is not as important as how long it persists. For example, if you’ve had a cold and you’ve had thick mucous for longer than five days, that’s a sign that the cold has most likely turned into a sinus infection. “I always tell parents to ignore the first 30 to 60 minutes after the child wakes up, because there’s going to be a lingering cough and mucous that needs to clear out.” Dr. Jim notes. “If it clears up the rest of the day, then there’s no need to worry.”
Dr. Jim demonstrates nasal irrigation for an infant and then performs ear wax irrigation on Dr. Ordon, who jokes, “Be careful of my makeup and Armani suit!”
Heartburn or Heart Attack?
Gastroenterologist Dr. Jeffrey Sherman from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center explains that heartburn is quite simply the stomach acid going the wrong way up the esophagus rather than staying in the stomach where it digests food. Thus the term “acid reflux.”
The symptoms of heartburn often mimic those of a heart attack. For example, we often think that chest pain is just heartburn, but if it occurs on the left side of the chest, radiates pain up towards the jaw and occurs during some sort of activity or exertion, then chances are it’s a cardiac event and needs to be checked out immediately.
Chris, 20, has suffered from heartburn for the last three years and is starting to get worried. The Doctors sent him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for an endoscopy. See Chris' endoscopy here. Dr. Sherman discovered that Chris is actually suffering from ulcers, which will be treated with acid blockers and a modified diet for the next several months. “I was not expecting that, but I’m glad I found out,” Chris says, relieved.
A Rash of Trouble
Rashes, or dermatitis, on the skin are indicators that something is wrong. Cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban explains, “The skin is the largest organ in the body, so we really have to pay attention to it.”
Types of rashes:
This type of rash occurs when a person comes in contact with something they are allergic to. Poison ivy and poison oak are common culprits, as well as other allergens such nickel, mango, and fragrance and colorings found in lip balms and lotions.
This type of rash is caused by a viral infection such as fever blisters or shingles, which is in the herpes family. People who had chickenpox as a child are at risk of developing shingles as an adult, as they are in the same viral family. If you start to feel a painful sensation in a band-like formation around your chest, make sure to get it checked out right away. Dr. Shamban notes that viral rashes are often preceded by tingling or pain, so if it is recognized and treated quickly, a skin eruption can be avoided.
The most common type of bacterial rash is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which occurs when the skin is broken – whether due to eczema, bug bites, cuts or some other opening in the skin – and the bacteria gets in and results in infection. This type of rash is considered a medical emergency, so make sure to call your doctor immediately.
Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN)
This type of rash is an allergic reaction - often to an antibiotic - and is life-threatening. The reaction is so extreme and drastic that the skin literally starts peeling off in sheets, but luckily, it’s extremely uncommon.
Give Foot Fungus the Boot!
Teri has struggled with foot fungus for six months and turns to Dr. Ordon for help. He explains that foot fungus is difficult to treat because the fungus is living under and in the nail bed itself. However, a two month dose of a strong antibiotic like Difulcan, as well as a topical anti-fungal cream should do the trick. Dr. Ordon adds that Difulcan requires the liver to be monitored while taking it, so be sure to consult your physician. Once the infection has cleared, partaking in regular pedicures and paraffin waxes will help to keep the toes nice and clean.
Kick Cold Sores to the Curb
Dr. Jim explains that cold sores are caused by the herpes type I virus and erupt in small, painful, fluid-filled blisters. The prodome, or precursor, to an outbreak is usually pain or tingling before the blister actually pops up. They often clear up on their own and can also be treated with antiviral medication. However, they are very contagious, so no kissing, sharing food, glasses or utensils.
Ready, Set, Conceive!
What if you could predict the exact moment you’re most fertile? On average, women have a 28 day cycle, but some women have anywhere from a 21 to 35 day cycle. “It’s really important to know your body,” Dr. Lisa says. She explains that the four elements involved in ovulation are temperature, hormones, follicular changes and uterine lining changes.
Immediately after her period, a woman’s uterine lining is thin and her hormones are low. As the cycle progress, the uterine lining thickens, hormone levels climb, and at the point of ovulation, the hormones surge and change the body’s temperature by just a few degrees. This change in temperature can be detected by specific ovulation thermometers.
“Mittleschmerz” is the term used to describe the moment that the egg is released from the ovary and sucked up by the fallopian tube. “If you have intercourse two days before you ovulate, the day you ovulate and two days after you ovulate, then you’ll increase your chances of getting pregnant,” Dr. Lisa assures.
Dr. Lisa suggests reading a chapter in the book, The Experts’ Guide to Doing Things Faster, which addresses how to gauge fertility and get pregnant faster.