Mysterious rashes, persistent coughs and painful sore throats … find out when to leave them alone and when to seek medical care.
Help for Heartburn
Heartburn, or acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid moves up the esophagus rather than stays in the stomach where it digests food.
Learn more about acid reflux treatment.
Foods that help prevent heartburn:
- Bland foods
- Oatmeal with blueberries
- Turkey burgers on whole wheat bread
Croup, an inflammation of the vocal cords, is a respiratory infection often caused by the Parainfluenza virus. It often develops several days after the onset of a cold, and the infection manifests in the bronchial tubes, vocal cords and windpipe.
A croup cough is usually accompanied by a stridor, or wheeze, which sounds like a high-pitched, almost musical sound when a person inhales. Teens, adults and children can all get croup, but it is more common in children. Croup can become dangerous 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 often treated with steroid medications and home remedies such as a hot, steamy shower and humidifier. “Usually croup is treated with one dose of steroids,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. “That’s it.”
How to Prevent Croup:
- Croup is a contagious disease, so if possible, avoid people with cold and cough symptoms.
- Wash hands often to reduce the chance of spreading infection.
- Get prompt treatment for symptoms of respiratory infection.
- Increase the amount of fluids consumed.
- Avoid exposure to respiratory irritants such as smoke.
Diagnosing a Cough
When your child comes down with a cough, how can you tell the difference between a harmless hack and a dangerous wheeze? Dr. Sears demonstrates how to decipher the four most common coughs.
Types of coughs:
Dry: common with the flu or an upper respiratory infection. Dr. Sears suggests that parents let their child cough during the day to get all the mucous and phlegm out, but use humidifiers or cough suppressants at night to help them sleep.
Wet: phlegmy, mucousy and often accompanies bronchitis. Try to avoid cough suppressants, as the lungs are doing their job of expelling the offending germs.
Croup: usually accompanied by a stridor, which sounds like a high-pitched, almost musical sound when the child inhales. Croup can become dangerous 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.
Whooping: characterized by uncontrollable deep coughing that causes a person to gasp for breath. Although whooping cough can be treated with antibiotics, it can be fatal, especially in young children, so it is important to get vaccinated.
Signs of a respiratory infection:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing when exercising
- Decreased exercise tolerance
- Coughing without phlegm
- Trouble sleeping
Weaning Babies from Breast Milk
Breastfeeding has numerous benefits for babies and mothers. Some of the many advantages for babies include: improving IQ, boosting the immune system and promoting healthy teeth. Breastfeeding also lowers a baby's risk of developing diabetes, obesity, heart disease, asthma, allergies, pneumonia and respiratory and ear infections. The benefits to the mother are increased bonding with the child and burning 300 to 500 calories a day.
To wean your baby from breast milk:
- Breastfeed at least until your child’s first birthday
- Start by dropping a feeding every five to seven days
- Stop your least favorite feeding time first
- Wait a few days until your supply decreases and then drop another feeding
- Avoid nipple stimulation
OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson demonstrates how nipple stimulation causes the hormone prolactin to produce breast milk.
Tip: If breastfeeding has left you sore, using cold packs and cool compresses can provide relief.
Urinary Tract and Bladder Infections
Most urinary tract infections are bladder infections, and 75 percent of women will suffer one at least once in their lifetime. Women are 25 times more likely to develop a UTI than men, mainly due to their anatomy. Sexual intercourse is a common cause of UTIs because bacteria are spread easily to the opening of the urethra.
The kidneys filter blood and send urine down to the bladder via two ureters that run parallel to one another. Urine pools in the bladder and travels down the urethra to leave the body. A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria enter the urethra and travel backward up the urethra and into the bladder. If left untreated, the infection can then travel up the ureters into the kidneys and cause serious damage.
Frequent urination, a sense of urgency to urinate or burning during urination are common symptoms of a UTI. At-home urinary tract and bladder infection tests are similar to those used in the doctor's office and are considered accurate. The test detects nitrates and protein in the urine, both of which are signs of infection.
Bladder infections and UTIs are treated with antibiotics. Taking acidophilus supplements and drinking cranberry extracts can help prevent the adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall and prevent infections. “Cranberry juice can help prevent [infection] because it prevents bacteria from clinging to the sides of the bladder wall,” Dr. Lisa says. “But it’s not going to actually treat [infection].”
As a woman ages, she is more likely to get bladder infections because decreased estrogen thins the walls of the bladder and the vagina, making them more susceptible to infection. A gynecologist may prescribe vaginal estrogen if needed.
Dr. Lisa’s Honeymoon Kit
“Honeymoon cystitis [bladder infection] is real!” Dr. Lisa says. “As a doctor, I give a little honeymoon package of [prophylactic medication], because frequent intercourse -- and you want to be having frequent intercourse, especially on your honeymoon -- can cause bladder infections because of all the friction and the bacteria going from the skin into the urethra and into the bladder.”
Dr. Lisa’s Honeymoon Kit includes:
- Cranberry juice
To keep bladder infections at bay, avoid:
- Carbonated drinks
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Spicy foods
- Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and tea, because it acts as both a diuretic and a stimulant to the bladder
Tonsils are lymph node tissues located on both sides of the throat, above and behind the tongue. Tonsils are part of the immune system, which helps the body fight illness. When infected, they become red and inflamed and develop a white coating. Tonsillitis, or a tonsil infection, is caused either by bacteria or a virus. A bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics, but a viral infection must run its course without medication.
If the tonsils are regularly infected, they need to be surgically removed, via a tonsillectomy.
Signs of Bacterial Infection:
- Sore throat
- No cough
- No cold symptoms
- Tonsils have white spots
Tip: Gargling with salt water and sipping on hot tea is an excellent home remedy for tonsillitis and sore throats.