It’s Ask Our Doctors Day and today they answer some of the most common “What should I do?” questions. Grab a pen and paper and test your med and food smarts!
How to Stop a Medical Emergency Before It Starts
When the weather is warm, children tend to play more sports outdoors and incidents of injuries increase. More than 3.5 million kids ages 14 and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year.
Melinda is worried about her sports-loving sons. She asks, “As a mom, how can I keep them safe from injury on the playing field?”
Here is some practical information on how to prevent the most common injuries and treat them if they do happen:
Symptoms: fatigue, dizziness, sweating has stopped, dry mouth, muscle weakness, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, fever, delirium or unconsciousness.
A simple test for dehydration: Pinch the skin on the back of the hand and pull it up. If it doesn’t bounce back, that could be a sign of severe dehydration and fluids are needed immediately.
How to Prevent Dehydration:
- Hydrate your kids before practice or a big event. It’s best to start hydrating the day before a strenuous exercise.
- Avoid playing in extreme heat
- Drinks: Water is good any time, especially while exercising. Drinks with electrolytes are good when you’ve been sweating for an hour or more; just make sure there is no high-fructose corn syrup in it. A six-ounce juice box is OK if it’s 100 percent juice. Parents, keep in mind that one six-ounce juice box should be a child’s total juice intake for one day. One way to cut down on the sugar intake is to dilute the juice.
- Snacks: Fruit like bananas and oranges are great for replenishing your energy, getting your blood sugar up and sustaining it throughout the activity. Stay away from sugary snacks like soda and cookies.
Sprains and Broken Bones
If you spot an obvious injury like a broken bone, first immobilize the area. For example, a magazine wrapped around an injured wrist and taped together can stabilize the injury like a cast while you head to the hospital.
For the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury, remember the RICE method to decrease swelling and inflammation:
Rest the injury
Apply Ice for 20 minutes every two to four hours
Apply a Compression bandage
Elevate the injury above the heart
A head injury can be very serious. Concussions are common in falls from bikes or while skiing, as well as football. A concussion happens when an impact to the head causes the brain to hit the side of the skull, resulting in bruising on the brain. Repetitive concussions can cause cognitive problems.
Symptoms of a Concussion:
Confusion and amnesia are signs of a brain injury. Asking the victim simple questions, like “What is your name?” and “Do you know where you are?” can tell you if there is a possible concussion.
If your child loses consciousness, is confused, lethargic or vomiting, go to an emergency room immediately.
Prevention: Helmets save lives. Make sure your child is protected with the proper safety gear: helmet, mouth guard, etc.
Kids Who are Always Sick
Vanessa from Santa Barbara joins the show via video chat thanks to oovoo.com. “I have a 17-month-old baby who is constantly getting sick. I try to minimize germs, but he keeps picking stuff up. What should I do?” She says as a stay-at-home mom, they visit parks and play gyms often, and her son, Theodore, seems to get one cold after another.
Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says you first have to make a distinction whether it’s one cold after another, or just one long cold sickness. “Kids can get one cold per month during the winter season and if each cold lasts two or three weeks, it can seem like they’re always sick,” he says.
Try to determine if it could be a food allergy. “If it’s not getting better after about five days – improving – or if it’s still there after 10 days, that’s just a general time of when to go see the doctor,” says Dr. Jim.
Dr. Jim advises Vanessa to strengthen her son’s immune system. “Give him lots of fruits and vegetables and foods that contain omega-3s, like healthy fish. Also, practice good hand washing after outings and before he eats,” he says. “You’re going to have to realize this is part of being a toddler. As long as it’s not getting serious and he does not always have to go on antibiotics, or he’s not always becoming really, really ill with this -- if it’s just staying mild colds, then it’s pretty typical. He will outgrow this as he gets older.”
Steve in Pueblo, Colorado writes, “Dear Doctors, I’m turning 50 this year and my wife is pushing me to have my colon checked. Are there options besides a colonoscopy?”
Dr. Travis says a regular screening can catch colorectal cancer early, when it’s treatable, which is why it’s important not to put this test off.
Gastroenterologist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez says that a new option called ColoSure can tell you if you have colon cancer about 80 percent of the time. In this test, you collect your stool sample yourself and mail it into a lab. DNA from the sample is screened for changes that could indicate colon cancer.
Dr. Rodriguez says the ColoSure screening does not replace a colonoscopy, which is the optimum test. “The ColuSure is only for people who have an average risk of colon cancer,” he says. If you have colon cancer in your family, then you need to have a regular colonoscopy.
Dr. Jim admits that colon cancer exists on both sides of his family and it’s been 10 years since his last colonoscopy, which leaves him overdue for one. Dr. Rodriguez suggests that for people with a family history of the cancer, the ColoSure test is good to do in addition to a colonoscopy.
Who should be screened:
- People who are over 50
- People with a family history of colon cancer
- People with symptoms of colon cancer: change in bowel movements, rectal bleeding or blood in stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, constipation that doesn’t go away, weakness or fatigue
Did you know that plants in your home or office may help keep you healthy? Microscopic openings in the leaves filter harmful substances and absorb mold-spore allergens and traces of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. The result is more purified air, which guards against wheezing, headaches and brain fog. The spider plant is one of the most powerful air cleansers.