Archive for January, 2012
Staying on the subject of vision health in dedication of National Eye Care Month, there is a truth in the fact that we are what we eat. Vitamins obtained from the food that we eat help us sustain different systems in our body. Vitamin A is important for our skin and hair. It helps maintain healthy gums bones and teeth, supports our immune system, and extremely important for the health of our eyes, especially night vision. Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin found in carrots as well as in milk and dairy, cereals, some green, yellow veggies, deep yellow and orange fruits (sweet potatoes, and squash) as well as in organ meats like liver (yikes not my favorite!).
If there is Vitamin A deficiency a patient can have problems seeing at night, dry eyes, growth delay, very dry and rough skin, and a weak immune system susceptible to infection. However, TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING CAN ALSO CREATE PROBLEMS. Never take overdose of any vitamin especially vitamin A. Children and adults can eat yellow vegetables everyday and this will not cause an overdose. This recommendation is for parents or adult administering high doses of a specific vitamin supplement bought from a store in a liquid or chewable vitamin form. This can be extremely harmful: high levels of vitamin A taken as a supplement can cause liver failure, hair loss, bone pain, headaches, fatigue, diarrhea, blurred vision and birth defects if taken in high doses during pregnancy.
Vitamin B2 also known as Riboflavin also helps to maintain vision health. It is found in organ meats (I still cannot eat liver!), dark meat from chicken or turkey, dairy, fortified cereals, grains and green leafy veggies like collard, spinach, kale.
If your toddler or child gives you a bit of difficulty eating the yellow vegetables remember to substitute with cantaloupes, oranges, grapefruits. Vitamin A and B2 are also found in yogurt and cheese as well as fortified cereals. So eat up to these great foods to maintain your vision health.
In honor of National Eye Care Month, I will be dedicating this month’s posts to vision care tips. In the spirit of the New Year, there is no better time to schedule a new eye exam for the entire family.
As a part of the health screening before school entry, I recommend having your children’s vision formally checked. Between the ages of 3 and 4 all children should have their vision screened. Your child should have his/her eyes check by the pediatrician with every well visit. However, I recommend a more detailed exam and it should be performed by a pediatric ophthalmologist or by an optometrist who is comfortable evaluating young children.
These are some red flags that should be immediately investigated in regards to your children’s vision:
- A severe headache that is persistent; Children should not have headaches. Mark a calendar for everyday he/she complains of headache and make note of the time of the day. This could be a sign of a vision or a more serious problem. If the headache is associated with other symptoms always contact your pediatrician immediately.
- Watching TV, playing video games or computer games too close as if unable to see clearly
- Needing to read books too close
- Squinting frequently
- Lazy eye
- Family history of refractory eye problems like astigmatism, far sightedness or near sightedness
- History of Prematurity
Eye exams are as important as your dental exams. Have your eyes checked once a year. And kids remember to eat your carrots: Vitamin A is good for your EYES.
Stay tuned for my next post on Vision Nutrition!
The Flu Season has already begun are you and your little ones prepared? I am sure that you are all seeing and hearing the commercials to come and get “The Flu Shot.” They are giving them at your local pharmacy, at the health department, and in your primary care physician’s office. Before you make your decision about receiving this vaccine, I’m sure you have several questions.
What exactly is this “Flu Shot?”
There are two types of influenza vaccines: a live and non live. The live means an actual viral particle is given to the patient, this vaccine is popular because is non injectable and given through a nasal spray. The live vaccine should never be given to children under age 2 years, children who have asthma or recent history of wheezing or anybody who is immunocompromised. The non live is injectable but it contains the inactivated virus as the main component of the vaccine. There are also a preservative free or with preservative version of the vaccine. In this case the preservative is thimerosol which contains small traces of mercury. I never like to give my children or my patients anything with mercury preservative if I can prevent it. Ask your provider which version they have so you can make the best decision for you and your child(ren).
Why is there a new vaccine every year?
There are different influenza strands and every year the virus mutates or changes. Therefore a new vaccine is made using a combination of strands from the most recent outbreaks worldwide. Once the vaccine is given to a patient it will start working in the immune system at day three of vaccination, but it is not until after day 7 that you will have full immunity. If during that period you are exposed you will still get the flu.
Who is more susceptible to the flu?
I recommend the flu vaccine every year for all children who are six months and up especially for little ones with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, history of extreme prematurity, and heart disease.
What are the possible side-effects?
All vaccines have potential side effects. The possible side effects of the flu vaccine can range from nothing, to minor redness and swelling at the site of the vaccine, to pain and soreness of the site for several days after the vaccine; to the most unusual but possible fever, body aches and headaches. Other possible side effects may present if the child is allergic to any components of the vaccines, then the child should not receive the vaccine: the possible side effect can be hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing which are signs of severe allergy called anaphylaxis. The vaccine contains some chicken egg component therefore if a child is allergic to eggs he/she should not receive the vaccine. Thankfully the most severe side effects are very rare.
As I stated in my previous posting the best preventions for the Flu are hand washing and the vaccine. I arm myself, my family, and my patients with the flu vaccine every year.
For more information on the flu vaccine visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/#flu .
Two years ago, my daughter Sarah woke up feeling extremely weak, with terrible chills and an uncontrollable fever of over 103. It took me less than two minutes to realize what she had, “The dreaded FLU!” The flu is a contagious illness caused by the influenza virus which symptoms include: fever, body aches, sore throat, severe cough, and in some cases abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. I’m sure these all sound familiar, so how can you tell that your little one has more than just a cold? Look for these main differences:
- Body Aches
- Constellation of all the symptoms
- Unbreakable fever
- The duration of the symptoms- the fever can last up to 7 days and the cough can stay for 2 more weeks!
The treatment for the flu is usually supportive. In the most uncomplicated cases physicians will recommend plenty of fluids, rest and ibuprofen or acetominophen for the fever and body aches. In cases where the patient may be at risk for complications he/she may be prescribed antiviral medications to shorten the duration of symptoms. If you or your little ones are experiencing these symptoms be sure to consult with your primary care physician right away.
According to the CDC and the Journal of the American Medical Association, every year in the US approximately 36,000 people die from complications of influenza, especially very young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The US influenza season starts in September, ending in May with a peak in January-February. The best prevention for any infection other than vaccination is hand washing. This can protect you and your little ones from “the flu,” and all other viruses that can cause severe infections. I give myself and my entire family the vaccine every year, and I recommend for children six months and up to prevent yearly infections.
During the holidays not only do we get to wear pretty clothes, eat great food but we also get to go on a plane, train or car to visit relatives and friends as part of your family tradition.
Here are a few tips to make your trip an enjoyable and healthy experience for the family whatever your destination or mode of transportation.
What to Pack?
- Pack lightly, but even if you are going to sunny California bring a couple of long sleeve cotton shirts and a pair of long pants in case the weather changes.
- Bring movies, video games, coloring books or age appropriate quiet activities like coloring. If you are traveling with multiple children and it is a long trip bring a little treasure box with small treats from the dollar store, one per hour of flight/drive and take out one at a time.
- Bring their favorite blanket or teddy bear to comfort them and hopefully help them take a nap.
- Bring a few treats such as pretzels or crackers as there may not be food served on the plane.
In the Plane:
- For infants and toddlers prepare for takeoff and landing by giving a bottle or pacifier to help with ear pressure.
- It is ok to let them be active and play before traveling or if possible in the afternoon or evening where there could be a better chance they will sleep during the flight. Do not get them over tired or ever medicate them with antihistamines (like Benadryl) or cough medications. These medications can cause hyperactivity and jitteriness instead of somnolence. Children should not be medicated with this purpose ever.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes in layers; it is usually cold in the plane and remember you must remove clothes when going through security. So make sure shoes and jackets are easy to remove and put on.
- Bring sanitizing wipes and clean their little hands after checking in and after going through security. Thousands of people traffic these areas every day.
In the Car:
- All of the above apply with the exception of the ear pressure issue unless you are going to very high altitudes, like traveling to the mountains.
- Prepare to make several stops during the trip and make them count by strategically planning interesting places to stop for bathroom and food. Road trips can be interesting and very relaxing if well planned.
Make the best of every situation and make sure they get enough food and rest and your children will be fine during the trip. If your child is very young and gets fussy remember not to have unrealistic expectations: I get a little fussy when I don’t get to sleep on my bed.
By: Dr. Edna Tello, MD