Getting ‘Glutened’ is Drugging My Kid! I’ve had it!! (Digestive Health Series, Part 3)

 

So, What does getting ‘glutened’ look like?

A. Laziness, fatigue

B. Anxious, depressed, irritable, angry

C. Disoriented, unaware, spaced out, Cognitive dysfunction

D. Stomach ache, migraine, joint pain

E. All of the above and then some!!!

Anyone that has talked with me knows this is a hot topic for me. What angers me the most is the total disregard of our society for the people that have true dietary issues that are ignored by the general population, including much of the medical population. As a nurse practitioner, I don’t like to say we’re missing things in medicine, but… WE ARE MISSING THINGS!!!!

As a mom, I knew there was more to it, and I knew I needed to keep searching for answers. Never. Give. Up. That’s going to be the name of my book. I’m not really a very good writer, avoided it like the plague in school. I have no idea where to start with a book, but it’s a goal of mine, and I need to share our story with other families. Moms need to know that it is worth every bit of energy you use figuring out how to help your child. 

He is so bright, it puts him on a different level. Friends started noticing it before I did, he put concepts together that 2 year olds just didn’t put together. He was smarter than some of the adults in his world and it caused problems. Problems that gradually got worse as the years went on. There were jokes about Einstein being thrown out of school, he even has a hat with Al on it. But, seriously, it took a decade of lots of struggles and difficulties to realize he wasn’t going to get better with prescriptions or school accommodation or anything else traditionally done for bright, ADHD kids. We’d been trying for years, and things were just getting worse… WHY???  Continue reading

Digestive Health Lesson #2 – It all Starts with Inflammation

Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine (Cleveland), wrote that inflammation is now recognized as the underlying basis of a significant number of diseases.

Inflammation

Inflammation 101

Inflammation defined by the free online medical dictionary: 1. A localized protective response elicited by injury or destruction of tissues, which serves to destroy, dilute, or wall off both the injurious agent and the injured tissue.  2.The inflammatory response can be provoked by physical, chemical, and biologic agents, including mechanical trauma, exposure to excessive amounts of sunlight, x-rays and radioactive materials, corrosive chemicals, extremes of heat and cold, or by infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and other pathogenic microorganisms. Although these infectious agents can produce inflammation, infection and inflammation are not synonymous.

Dr. Edwards points out that anti-inflammatory foods have been used to combat Cancer and many other diseases, i.e.: Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, many Autoimmune diseases, asthma. Here is the abstract from her article:  Continue reading

“Oh NO, NOT the BROWNIES” and Other Foods My Family (mostly) Aviods

“F#ck A Brownie!” Sorry(!), but, that was the initial, primal thought I had at 2:39 last night when all I wanted was a good night’s sleep! Nausea. Upset stomach. Pain. Hot and Cold Flashes. Explosive…. NOT a good night’s sleep. Damn my weak will power! I love brownies, but I hate can’t live with the way they make me feel. I know it’s not just the brownies, it’s the processed wheat flour in everything I ate yesterday.

So, why in the world did I eat it?? Well…. Continue reading

How the hell did that happen? 50 pounds later…

Growing up as an athlete, weight was not a problem… until my teen years. I stayed fit multiple ways; there was soccer, gymnastics, swimming, roller skating and ice skating, field hockey, tennis, weight training and the list goes on. As an adult, I controlled my weight by eating healthy, walking, weight training, waitressing, bartending, nursing, biking, swimming, pilates, yoga. I even taught pilates for a year when Drew Elizabeth was a baby. Best shape I’ve ever been in, and I was 35 and had 2 kids! I love pilates and thought I’d do it forever, but then I started my graduate program, and my exercise habits went to Hell, but it was a slow slide.

I was over 40 when my weight was creeping up, quickly, and I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong… I gained 30 pounds in 8 months! It all started just after my brother’s wedding in April 2012. My goal has been to get back into that dress.

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April 2012, 40 years old and feeling good (before the gain).

So, when I hopped on the scale at the Y in January, I thought it was broken. I know that sounds like a joke, but, I really did. I went to my friend’s house. I told her I needed to use her scale, because I didn’t own one and the one at the Y had to be broken. I came back down the stairs stunned.

The scale wasn’t broken.

I gained 30 pounds in 8 months! WTF!

How the hell did that happen??? 

I had a plan. I joined the 3 month weight loss program at the Y.  I went to kick ass cardio classes at 5:30am, which is almost impossible for me (Fibro is a chronic fatigue disorder), but I did it. I was doing weight training, I was walking. I was working out 6-7 times a week, even won highest attendance in that contest. I lost 4 pounds in 3 months… What. The. Fuck. Excuse my language, there just is NO substitution. I have never had trouble losing weight. It’s never been easy, but I know how to get it done. Well, I thought I did. I was struggling.

Off to the doctors I went, primary doc, endocrine doc, neither of them thought there was a medical problem. Katie was just gaining weight, it happens when women turn 40. WHAT!?! NO! That was not acceptable. But, what was I to do. I kept struggling.

In March 2014, I was heavier than I had been when I was full term pregnant with either of my children. This couldn’t be happening. How was this happening. I was crying almost every day when I got dressed. I didn’t want to get dressed. I was depressed.

I went to a friend’s 50th birthday party and a college roommate’s wedding that month. I was so very happy for them, and I hated how I felt inside and how I looked on the outside.

I hid. These are the only pictures I can find of me at that time.

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Top right, February 2014, before I knew, I was swollen and inflamed. Left and bottom right are about 4 weeks into my purge. You can see my face is a bit less swollen. But, my stomach was so upset in both of these pictures. I can still remember, and it was almost 2 years ago.

I had an epiphany one day reading a Fibro blog, I clicked on a link to yeast allergy because I was somewhat familiar. I was worried I might have some of those symptoms.

O.M.G.!     Did I have some of the symptoms???     I. Had. Every. One. 

Let’s see if I can remember them all…

  • dry skin
  • constipation
  • bloating
  • stomach upset
  • asthma (it got so bad I went back on meds I hadn’t been taking for years!)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • eczema
  • thinning hair
  • yeast infections (yup, those kind of yeast infections!)
  • sleep problems
  • dandruff, with fungal patches on my scalp
  • UTI (never had a UTI except when I was prego)
  • major sugar cravings
  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • acne
  • the list seems to go on and on…

It. Sucked.

So, what to do? Fortunately, I’ve got this friend… Thank God I have all kinds of knowledgeable friends. Remember, Kathy, the allergy RN from my allergy posts? Yeah, she got a text real quick. Not only did she agree with me, she thought the same thing when she’d seen me the previous week.

So, how do I fix it?!?!?

No biggie, just avoid the following:

  • Sugar
  • Processed, packaged foods
  • Vinegar, anything vinegar based
  • Leftovers past 24-36 hours old, they start to grow organisms, a healthy GI tract can tolerate this, mine could not.
  • Yogurt has a ton of sugar, beware.
  • All berries/grapes and other fruits with the S.minor fungal organism, that white mold that shows up after 5-6 days. Our GI system should be able to break that down, unless it’s inflamed and leaky, like mine was!
  • Breads with yeast (flatbread and crackers would be ok on occasion)
  • Wheat is a cross-contaminant, so I should avoid that too
  • Wine (!)(!problem!)(!ALERT!)(!ALERT!)(!problem!) I had to do all this AND avoid wine… it’s fermented. Oh, champagne is even more fermented. (A girl’s gotta have sip on occasion, so I do enjoy a glass of wine (or 2) here and there!)
  • Alcohol is fermented. (Vodka is distilled!!!)
  • Change your cooking oil to coconut and olive, be sure to buy quality items.
  • Balance your Omega 3 oils with your Omega 6 oils. (Fish oil, tuna, coconut, olive are Omega 3 sources.) I get my coconut oil here.
  • I’m sure there were more, but if you take a look, there isn’t much left.

So, that leaves veggies and meats with no marinade. Fun. It was going to have to be fun. But, I did come up with dinners like this one. This was actually last nights, and it was yummy.

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Chicken with fresh lemon, garlic, salt, pepper, italian spices over baby spinach with peas and sweet potatoes. Now that I’ve changed, I think this is scrumptious. Actually, it was!!

I’ve learned more about cooking with dry spices, and now wouldn’t do anything else.

I’ve learned that I prefer to put my meat on a bed of greens, and don’t really need salad dressing if I have it that way. Good luck finding salad dressing without vinegar or soy. Soy is a huge inflammatory. I avoid it at all cost, along with all the other inflammatory foods.

What I’ve learned in my research over the past few years is that inflammation is the root of most health issues, including obesity. Now that I know that, I look back at the struggles I had in my life with my weight, my fibro, my asthma, my skin, my irritable bowel, my anxiety, and it all makes so much sense. It was all because of food intolerances that I knew nothing about. I know I’m not alone… look at the obesity epidemic in this society.

I encourage anyone that has weight challenges to learn about inflammation and leaky gut syndrome. Knowing this knowledge will change your world.

Besides diet changes, what should you do:

  • Probiotic to help heal the gut; multiple lacto and bifido strains, specifically acidophilus, My family takes 40 billion units minimum and changes brand each month too.
  • Vitamins, I use B-complex, Vit C 1000mg, Vit D 2000-5000 IU each day. Most multis don’t have enough in them unless they are a high dose. In my recent readings, I’m learning more about the CRUCIAL role of Vit D, which is really a hormone, and essential.
  • Purge from the above foods for a minimum of 6-8 weeks, then you can slowly try to reintroduce some things. Still only eat them on occasion. Adding fermented foods back into your diet is helpful for a healthy gut.
  • Exercise, at least 3/x week, but daily activity is important.
  • Find ways to manage your stress, this is crucial! Cortisol changes everything. High cortisol makes is really hard to be healthy in multiple ways.
  • 8 hours sleep should be a minimum. WE HEAL WHEN WE SLEEP!!
  • Change your cookware to avoid non-stick chemicals like teflon. I use solid ceramic Xtrema by Ceramcor.
  • I have found that eating Paleo, or close to Paleo is the way to go for me. I have decreased my grain intake significantly.

Well, there wasn’t a damn thing easy about it. I honestly didn’t think I’d see the day I got back into the dress I wore to my brother’s wedding. But I have, comfortably… pictures the next time I have an event! 😉

This was part of my journey that was and continues to be a real struggle. I wanted to share, because I think there are an awful lot of people out there going through what I went through. You don’t have to.

Of all the chapters I’ve lived, I must say, this was a toughy. I have learned an awful lot from this part of my journey, and now I can share some pretty important health information with others.

I knew I needed to write this post 2 years ago. I hoped my journey would bring me here. I can’t tell you how overwhelmingly happy I am that I am writing and telling you all about it. I hope it helps you.

Nothin’ easy about it! We HAVE TO help each other.

Enjoy the Journey!! 😉

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January 2016, 44 years old, 50 pounds lighter than my max weight. BAM! HELL YEAH!

 

Experiment #2: Mo’s sinus issues (doTerra trio of relief)

What kind of relief can essential oils provide for sinuses?

I’ll be letting you know soon. I’m pleasantly surprised with the results we are seeing in just a few days.

We’ve started using lavender, lemon and peppermint to help with sinus relief. My husband has some of the worse sinus problems I’ve seen. He’s tried everything over the years, OTCs, prescriptions, allergy shots, netty pots, you name it, he’s done it… except essential oils.

We are 3 days in and my husband seems a little less congested. Things ebb and flow, so it may or may not be the oils. After a bit more time, I’ll be more certain of our results.

I also had him use a drop of eucalyptus oil on his maxillary sinuses yesterday morning. First, the smell was a bit strong, so the grimace on his face put me on guard, he was getting ready to use the “that voodoo stuff you do” on me….  In less than 30 seconds the eucalyptus oil was making a difference, and he had a different expression, a surprised, more pleasant look on his face. He didn’t say anything. He’s my forever skeptic. So, I can usually count on him for the truth, whether I want it or not. His silence spoke volumes. 😉

So, here’s what we are doing for Experiment #2:

Lavender_15mlBlending lavender, peppermint, and lemon (1-2 drops each) into our palms and rubbing together. Cupping hands about 8-10 inches away from our nose and slowly breathing in.

After smelling the wonderful aroma, we are rubbing it on other areas of our body to promote absorption, the back of the neck, wrists, and bottoms of feet. Drew likes to rub a bit over her heart too.

We’re all doing it twice a day, morning and before bed.lemon

Tonight, while I’m try to finish up these details about EO Experiment #2, guess who comes and ask me for his oils? Be right back. 😉

Maybe there is something to this “voodoo” essential oil stuff….

Peppermint_15mlWarning: I do not recommend taking a really deep breath in the beginning, it can be quite overwhelming.  I do recommend you start slow, the aromas are potent. Take a small breath until you get used to the aroma and its powerfulness, then you can breath it in a little deeper and continue taking a few deep breaths. Rub into your feet if the aroma is too strong to be on the back of your neck. Josh prefers his feet.

 

Update on Experiment #1: Josh and Drew both took tissues with oils to school. Josh took wild orange/vetiver. Drew took lavender/lemon. I got a “good” from them both when I picked them up. Not a lot of details except about how powerful the aroma was coming out of Josh’s cubby when he opened it. So, maybe all of the 8th grade around his cubby will be focusing better.

I am really enjoying the research I am doing  and knowledge I am gathering about all of the wonderful, natural uses of these oils. I wish I knew sooner! I highly recommend you learn a little too. I bet it will change your world like it has mine.

I’d love to know if you have any essential oils secrets, please share in the comments below. The rest of us will keep your secret too. 😉

If you are interested in more info, contact me. As always, I hope you Enjoy the Journey!

*Using essential oils can assist you on your path to ultimate health and wellness. Please be advised that Essential Oil practices discussed on this website are not intended to replace the advice of your medical provider. Please learn about essential oils before you use them.  

Is that sore throat Strep? How to know…

It’s spring time, which means it’s the season for Strep Throat! Not that strep has to be in season, but spring is the most common time for strep. I’ve gotten a call today from a parent asking me if I would call in an antibiotic because her daughter has a sore throat and stomach ache. This child may very well have strep throat, but of course, I said “No.” The only way to determine if a child has strep throat is to have them evaluated, and 99.9% of the time a throat culture is needed for confirmation. I’m grateful the mom was understanding and planned on going to an urgent care facility after I spoke to her.

Symptoms of strep are sore throat, fever, headache, stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, rash, muscle aches, and petechiae on the palate.

Petechiae on the palate is usually diagnostic of strep.

Does the child always have a fever- No. Does the child always have a sore throat – No. Some kids will have no symptoms, but have a rash that presents with little red spots that are raised and feel like sandpaper. This sandpaper like rash is one of the symptoms that will cause me to forgo the culture. When children have lots of petechiae on the palate, and an extremely red throat, and usually really swollen tonsils, I don’t feel the need for a throat culture. When the throat looks this bad, it is strep and hurts to do a culture. When the throat has swollen tonsils with white spots, this is frequently, but not always strep, and a culture is needed.

I’m going to ask a favor of you – please help us! Children do not like throat cultures, but it is very important to obtain for proper diagnosis. When the parent is helpful, the culture is much easier for the child. I have had children beg their mom or dad “Don’t make me do it!!” This is when it is important as a parent to show some strength and be firm. Yes, the throat culture is necessary, please back me up!! Most kids really dislike having a throat culture done. I can’t say that I blame them, but it is a necessary evil. I often say that you would think we could figure out a better way to diagnose strep with all of the technology that we have nowadays. But, the bacteria that causes strep throat is hanging out on those tonsils.

Joshua has had strep throat twice. The last time he threw up so much I would have assumed it was a stomach virus if we hadn’t done a throat culture. The poor kid threw up for almost 8 hours, how miserable when you already have a sore throat. The first time he had strep he also had pneumonia. The poor guy had a high fever, was achy all over and was absolutely miserable! He didn’t even want to move. When he gets sick with strep, he really gets sick!

If you are worried that your child may have strep throat, please have them evaluated. Please do not ask your medical provider to just call in an antibiotic. Do not give your child an antibiotic that you have left over from a previous illness. If I child is on an antibiotic the throat culture will be negative even if they had strep throat. Also, you shouldn’t have antibiotics left over from other illnesses. When antibiotics are prescribed, they are usually meant be be given until the medication is all gone to properly treat the infection.

So, if it’s not strep, what could it be? It could be a URI, it could be allergies, it could also be mononucleosis. How do you know the difference, it’s not always easy to differentiate. It is very common for most upper respiratory infections (URI or cold) to present with a fever and sore throat. How do we know it is a virus and not strep?? Proper assessment, evaluation and culture. How do you know if it’s mono? Mono is confirmed by a blood test. Most sore throats (including mono) will go away without any treatment.

Sometimes a child can have more that one illness at a time. I spoke to a mom today that was wondering why her daughter wasn’t getting better after being on an antibiotic for strep throat (confirmed by culture) after 4 days on an antibiotic. The child started feeling worse 2 days ago. At the same time, she started with coughing and congestion. It sounds like she has a URI now, on top of strep throat, how miserable!!

(Update): This year, it seems like there are a good amount of kids testing positive for strep and the flu. That really is a double whammy! Miserable! Keep them as comfortable as you can, keep them hydrated, and have them rest as much as possible.

Strep throat can sometimes go away without treatment, but could cause complications if not treated appropriately. Some of the complications of strep throat could be quite serious, such as rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, and glomerulonephritis. This is why it is very important for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If your child has strep, 10 days of Amoxicillin is the best treatment. Traditionally speaking, strep throat is contagious for 24 hours after starting the antibiotic. More recent information states that it is contagious as long as the child has fever and/or a sore throat. Sometime it takes a few days for the sore throat to feel better. Treat your child with Tylenol or Motrin for fever and pain relief. You can find the links to Tyelnol and Motrin dosing in the sidebar on this page.

So, the next time your pride and joy has a sore throat, make an appointment with your doctor or nurse practitioner, and ask for a throat culture. Hopefully, I have helped you understand why we need to gag your child when we suspect strep. 😉

As challenging as it can be, I hope you are enjoying the journey! 🙂

Small Dose #9 – Two Important tips that can help Allergy Sufferers

There are many things that you can do to help with your allergy symptoms. Here are 2 simple things you should do everyday that can make a HUGE difference…

1. Keep the windows closed!! Whatever is outside drifts in when you put the windows up in your home and the windows down in your car.

2. Wash your hair every night!! Washing all of the allergens off your hair and body every night keeps you from transferring all of those allergens onto your pillow, and sleeping with them all night. Talk about prolonged exposure, it doesn’t get much worse than putting your face in a pillow full of allergens all night long.

I know these tips sound easy, but this really can make a big difference in how you feel during allergy season.

If you want more in depth information about allergies, check out my post Springtime & Sneezes…You Might have allergies if  for more information on allergy treatments and Don’t Eat That Egg…Your allergic to Ragweed to understand how your diet may be affecting your allergies.

I hope these helpful hints make your journey a little big easier! Happy Spring! 🙂 

Don’t eat that egg…You’re allergic to Ragweed…Huh??

Why in the world would I be telling you not to eat eggs if your allergic to Ragweed?? Concomitant Food Allergies.

Did you know there are certain foods that can make your environmental allergies worse? There are also foods that can worsen food allergies and food intolerance. These are called Concomitant or Synergistic Allergies. When certain environmental allergens are blooming (like ragweed for instance), eating these foods (such as eggs or milk) can make the allergy symptoms worse. Avoiding these foods during the blooming season is very helpful.

I wrote a post last week with basic allergy information, symptoms and treatment options, Springtime & Sneezes…You might have allergies if…. This post will help you recognize and treat your allergy symptoms.

You may not know what you are allergic to, and that is why allergy testing can be helpful!! Treating allergies isn’t easy, and knowing which allergens affect you can make developing a treatment plan easier. I remember calling my friend Kathy, RN/Allergy Specialist and asking her about Joshua’s allergies. She is my saving grace when it comes to Joshua and his allergies. (If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Joshua is definitely one of those kids that needs the entire village!) 😉 I have mentioned that Joshua has allergies, but has a negative RAST test. RAST testing is done via blood draw with lab testing to identify specific allergens.

There are many different panels that can be ordered depending on what part of the country you live in. Joshua was unable to do skin testing because he reacted to the control test that contained only saline. 😦 How his RAST test was negative alludes me… But, I say kids don’t read and follow the books. 😉 Also, we can’t test for every substance under the sun, it’s just not possible. Every April since this boy was 2 months old he has had a clear runny nose, that, my friends, is allergies!! No doubt about it. Some doctors will tell you that infants can’t have allergies. I beg to differ, I live with that clear runny nose, morning cough and sneezing each April, and have for 10 years now. Joshua eats a lot of apples, this high fiber food is actually necessary to help Joshua with another of his problems, but we can talk about why kids need fiber another day. 😉 So in April, when all the trees are blooming, Joshua avoids apples.

Keep in mind that allergy symptoms can be cough, congestion, clearing your throat, sniffles, runny nose, sore/scratchy throat, itchy/watery eyes, headache, skin rash, dry skin, eczema and asthma.

So, I wanted to share a list of specific foods that compound allergy symptoms. The following charts are provided by Online Allergy Center, and list what foods make specific allergies worse.

As you or your children sneeze and cough your way though this allergy season, I hope this information helps you Enjoy the Journey and beauty of Spring a little bit more! 😉

Proven Concomitant Foods:
Rhus Allergy (poison ivy, oak, sumac)… Pork, Black pepper
Ragweed… Egg, Milk, Mint
Iva ciliata… Wheat
Sage… Potato, Tomato, Tobacco (chewing or snuff)
Pigweed… Pork, Black pepper
Grass… Legumes: Beans, Peas, Soybean, Cottonseed (cooking fats)
Cedar… Beef, Yeasts (baker’s, brewer’s or malt)
Elm… Milk, Mint
Cottonwood… Lettuce
Oak… Egg, Apple
Pecan… Corn, Banana
Mesquite… Cane sugar, Orange
Dust… Oysters (seafood)
Molds… Monilia, T.O.E., Cheese, Mushrooms, Truffles
Cystic breast disease… Caffeine foods (thoephylline): Coffee, Tea, Cokes, Chocolate

Questionable Concomitant Foods (to be proven):

Dust… Nuts
Influenza Vaccine… Onion
Iva ciliata… Tea
Chenopods… Egg

Proven Synergistic Foods:

Corn… Banana
Beef… Baker’s yeast, Brewer’s yeast
Cane Sugar… Orange
Milk… Mint
Egg… Apple
Pork… Black Pepper

Questionable Synergistic Foods (to be proven):

Wheat… Tea
Pork… Chicken
Milk… Chocolate

Springtime & Sneezes…You might have allergies if…

AAAACCHHOOOO! Excuse me! We’re having a little problem with allergies already this spring, how about you?!? It’s Springtime and allergies are in full flare! I love Spring, it is my favorite season! The grass is so green, the flowers are so pretty and brilliant, the birdies are singing, the air is warming up, what’s not to like? Well, ok, yes, the pollen and allergens that travel up our nose as we begin to venture back outside.

Can you recognize the symptoms??? Some patients tell me they don’t have allergies,  they just have a cough.

  •  Well, if that cough is nagging you mostly at night and when you wake in the morning, you might have allergies.
  • If you wake up and have to clear your throat or blow your nose, you might have allergies.
  • If your child is coughing when they first wake up, it sounds a little wet, or a little hoarse, but then goes away in 30-45 minutes or so, they might have allergies.
  • If you sneeze, you might have allergies.  
  • If you have a sore, scratchy throat, but no fever, you might have allergies. (It is always a good idea to have a sore throat check out with your doctor or NP, if it’s strep, it has to be treated.)
  • If you have a clear runny nose that doesn’t get worse and doesn’t go away, you might have allergies.
  • If you have itchy, watery eyesyou might have allergies. 
  • If your child has asthma and is wheezing, it may be worsened by allergies.

There are many people that don’t think they have allergies, but they might…. ;-). Keep in mind that if you notice these symptoms year round, your allergies may be indoor and outdoor. The best way to determine if you have allergies is to see your primary care provide or an allergist. My allergy doc and his RN/Allergy Specialist wife, are a great resource for me! If you are local, email me and I will give you their contact info. They would be happy to help!

So, what can you do about your allergies so that you can enjoy the great outdoors???

  • If you don’t typically suffer from allergy problems, a netty pot can be a great way to help clean out those sinuses. I have friends that swear by their nasal rinses! You will want to microwave or boil the water before using the netti pot…of course, you should allow it to cool to room temperature before doing the rinse. 
  • Taking an antihistamine such as Claritin or Zyrtec can be helpful. I usually recommend Allegra if these first 2 aren’t helpful.
  • Nasal sprays such as Flonase or Nasonex can be quite helpful. They help to reduce the swelling and secretions caused by allergens.
  • Nasal sprays and oral medications can be a good combination therapy. If you’ve tried this without relief, I recommend seeing an allergist.
  • Eye drops such as Zatidor or Pataday can be helpful as well. Check with your health care provider to be sure this is the appropriate treatment for your family.
  • Wash your hair every night!! As we go though the day, all kinds of allergens sit on our hair. If we don’t wash them off, they are on the pillow. Laying on a pillow full of allergens all night is just as bad or even worse than being outside.
  • Keep your windows closed! The first thing I want to do when the weather warms up is open the windows. My husband runs behind me closing them all up again because he and Joshua have bad allergies. Keeping the windows closed keeps the allergens out!
  • Get rid of carpet and heavy drapes that hold dust and allergens. Hard floors and blinds are much easier to keep clean.
  • Buy hypoallergenic pillow and mattress covers. I am not even going to mention all the allergens (dust mites,etc) that can be trapped in pillows.
  • When you are cleaning the house, wet dust and wet mop. Sweeping and dry dusting just moves the dust around. Investing in a vacuum with a good HEPA filter to trap the allergens can be helpful also. Many vacuums just blow the dust right back out.
  • Immunotherapy: Allergy shots provide small exposure to specific allergens to help the immune system build up antibodies against the allergen. Immunotherapy works!
  • Don’t forget that Hydration can be helpful! If you learn nothing else from me, you will learn the importance of hydration (see The Importance of Hydration for more info on adequate hydration)
  • Treating allergies can be tricky, don’t try to do it all by yourself.

Please keep in mind that untreated allergies can cause increased problems for those with asthma and eczema. I see so many kids with eczema problems that are not on allergy medication, allergy medication may be key in controlling the eczema symptoms.

The secretions that come from inflamed nasal and sinus tissue can cause ear infections, sinus infections, and headaches. I have found that most people that suffer from allergies are allergic to grass and dust mites. So inside and outside, there is always exposure. These people should be on allergy medication year round.

There are a many different foods that cause allergies as well. Many people suffer from food sensitivities vs. food allergies. I suffered from occasional stomach pain and Irritable Bowel Symptoms all my life, and finally found that I have food sensitives.  Food sensitives can present as stomach pain, bloating, vomiting, dry skin, eczema and other allergy symptoms.  Allergy testing, diagnosis, and treatment can be tricky. Just because the test is negative doesn’t mean you don’t have a sensitivity to that substance. I’ve talked to Kathy, RN my best allergy source at the office and we both agree that an negative allergy panel is not conclusive; there is no way to test for the millions of substances that are floating around in this world.

Well, I hope I’ve given you enough info to help you through the Spring. I talk more about food allergies and concomitant allergies in another post, Don’t eat that egg…You’re allergic to Ragweed.  Concomitant allergies are foods that will make allergies worse. One example is avoiding apples during the season when oak trees are blooming. Another is avoiding milk, egg, and mint if you have a ragweed allergy. So, as you can see, allergy testing can be helpful!

I think it’s time end this post and go wash my face and hands… My cat came and sat down next to me about 10 minutes ago, which usually doesn’t bother me, but I was petting him for a few minutes, and apparently touched my face, and now my eyes are all itchy and watering…. Still love my Jersey cat though! He’s a big, beautiful, black tom cat that will be 17 next month. He’s a sweety! Glad I didn’t know I had a cat allergy before I got him. Although, I had a sneaky suspicion when I got my Persian back in college and needed my inhaler every couple hours to breathe comfortably the first few days.  After I got used to her, things got better, I should have known then. I guess I did, but I love cats, and denial is a powerful defense mechanism! 😉

Please let me know if you have more questions about allergies, and I will do my best to help you Enjoy your parenting journey!

What’s that cough all about??

Hi all! I hope you are doing well, ’cause there are lots of sick kiddos out there.  I have been so busy in the office, I haven’t had time for a post, so this one is going to be full of info for you.

So many kids are coughing!  I’m sure you are nodding your head in agreement right now.  What I’m noticing is a common goal: Most parents just want the cough to go away!  Well, of course they do, so I…. it’s the same in my house.  Drew Elizabeth has been coughing on and off for months; but, that’s life in Kindergarten.   Joshua coughs and sneezes and clears his throat every morning, which has got to be disturbing to him, it is to the rest of us.

With all of this coughing going on the real question is WHY IS MY CHILD COUGHING?? 

A cough is the body’s way to protect itself.  The real goal for parents and pediatric providers is to determine what is causing the cough? Is it post nasal drip, congestion from a cold, asthma, croup, pneumonia??   Figuring out what is causing the cough is the first step in figuring out how to treat the cough.  Treating a cough with a cough suppressant is not a good idea, the cough is there for a reason.

If your child has a cold (upper respiratory infection or URI), the congestion may be causing the cough.  URI symptoms are cough, congestion, runny nose (clear or yellowish), low-grade fevers (<102F), decreased appetite, disturbed sleep and overall they feel kind of miserable. The congestion from a cold usually runs down the throat, causing the body to cough.  Coughing is the body’s defense mechanism to keep the congestion from travelling down to the lungs.  Colds are caused by viruses, rhinovirus, adenovirus, etc.

Some viruses cause Croup.  Croup is caused by inflammation of the airway and vocal cords during a URI.  This causes a “barky” sound that is SCARY the first time you hear it. I freaked out the first time Josh had croup, at 2am my first thought was asthma attack because he looked like he couldn’t breath and his eyes were as big as eggs! He looked terrified, which terrified me!  If this happens to you in the middle of the night, do the tried and true steamy shower trick. As soon as you can, take a trip to the doctor for a dose of steroids and that cough won’t sound so scary.

Antibiotics will not get rid of a virus, antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.  Viruses typically last 7-10 days, with symptoms worsening over the first 3-5 days.   The best way to treat the cough is by trying to dry up the congestion.  I usually recommend an antihistamine or decongestant to help.  Check with your medical provider to see if this is proper treatment advice for your child.

Specific treatment options should be discussed with your primary care provider (PCP).  Children that do not start improving within a week should be evaluated for ear infections, pneumonia or other complications.  Children with symptoms that get bad quickly should be evaluated sooner.   Infants with lots of congestion and runny nose should also be evaluated sooner.  Babies are at higher risk for complications from viruses that older children and adults can easily fight off.

Pneumonia, a lower respiratory infection, can be a serious complication from ongoing cough and congestion. Children that have pneumonia will often present with symptoms other than cough, but not always.   These children will typically have little energy, and tire more easily when playing. Children with pneumonia will often have difficulty taking a deep breath, or doing so may be painful and will cause lots of coughing. These children are often compensating by doing lots of shallow breathing, and their breathing may be faster than usual.  Keep in mind fevers can also cause fast breathing and rapid heart rate. Children with pneumonia will often run a fever, but not always.  Another red flag with pneumonia is a cough that went away, or you thought it went away… The cough that is wet, thick and sounds bad, and then just disappears, may be a sign that there is fluid in the lungs that is inhibiting the child’s cough.  These children often look sick and have little energy, but again, not always.  If your child has a cough for more than a week that doesn’t get any better, but continues to linger, please have your child evaluated.  Children of all ages get pneumonia. I’ve treated just as many teens with pneumonia as younger children this winter.

Vaccinate against Pneumonia: You can help protect your children under the age of 5 years old with a vaccine.  Please check with your doctor to be sure that your child has had all of their pneumonia vaccines; this vaccine protects against 13 different organisms that cause pneumonia.  Children over the age of 2 years old with asthma or other chronic health conditions should consult with their doctor to see if they should have an additional pneumonia vaccine that is for people of all ages; this vaccine protects against 23 different causes.

Coughing can be a symptom of asthma.    Children with asthma will cough because of inflammation and secretions in the airway.  Children with asthma may not look like they are having difficulties breathing because they will breath more shallow to compensate.    Frequently, parents and children do not even realize this is happening.  I treated a little girl (8 yrs old) yesterday for asthma that was flaring because she has a cold.  The child’s symptoms were cough and congestion.  When I evaluated her, I discovered she was moving very little air in her lungs, but didn’t look bad at all.  Mom had not realize she needed her asthma treatments because her symptoms were so mild.  After giving her a nebulizer treatment in the office, she was able to move air in and out of her lungs more easily.   URI’s frequently cause children with asthma to have increased breathing problems.  Even if the child has not needed daily treatment in the past, they may while they have a URI.  Without a proper physical assessment, it is not possible to determine if a child is coughing because of asthma.  Please consult your provider to create an Asthma Care Plan for your child.  This plan should include treatment for mild, moderate, and severe asthma symptoms.  Asthma symptoms are often exacerbated by allergies, this should be addressed by your providerChildren cannot be diagnosed with asthma with one visit or one incidence of breathing difficulties.  Asthma is a diagnosis of chronic/ongoing incidence. 

If a child has allergies, they usually have a nighttime cough, but this cough goes away during the day.  These children will often cough, sneeze, and clear their throat for a while in the mornings.  Yes, this does sound like Joshua.  Zyrtec is often helpful for him, but at almost 10 years old, I let him chose if he is going to take it.  Recently, he has chosen no; so, the morning sneezing continues.  As April approaches  his allergy symptoms will get worse, and I will strongly encourage 😉 him to take his Zyrtec every night.  Joshua’s allergies are tricky to say the least, but that’s for another day.  If you think your child has allergies, check with your doctor to see if your child displays other silent allergy symptoms.  Allergy medication can be helpful, but you should always consult with your pediatric provider before starting a chronic medication.  I’ll talk about allergies in a future post, the season is not too far off.

I enjoy sharing my advice, and encourage you to consult with your pediatric care provider about all of your child’s healthcare needs and concerns.  Think of your Doc, PA, or NP as your partner in parenting and caring for your child. That is what I hope I am for all the families that I work with.  The journey is a challenging one, the more we stick together, the better parents we can be!

I hope you enjoy the journey, even with the coughs and runny noses! 😉