Weekly health watch with items on easing your kids' cold and flu symptoms, women and multiple sclerosis, cigarette advertising and teen smoking and more.
Any parent who has sat up through the night with a sick child knows easing the discomforts of cold and flu is the No. 1 priority.
"Watching your child suffer, even if it's from something as minor as a nose that's sore and chapped from repeated blowing, is a terrible feeling for any parent," says Dr. Tanya Remer Altman, a mother and pediatrician who is a best-selling author and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"Dr. Tanya," as she's known to her patients and others, offers tips to help:
* Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months and older, but ask your pediatrician about the nasal spray form for kids. It's available for children 2 and older and provides the same protection and safety as the traditional flu shot.
* Your mother probably swore by chicken soup, and she was on to something. Serving sick children chicken soup not only gives them the benefit of nourishment while their bodies are fighting a virus, but studies show it has anti-inflammatory properties as well.
* Sore, chapped noses add to the discomfort of a cold, but tissues with lotion can help prevent chapping from frequent nose blowing and wiping. Or try petroleum jelly or unscented ointment to soothe the irritation.
* To relieve a stuffy nose, try a few drops of nasal saline and gentle suctioning. A cool-mist humidifier and a liberal application of Vicks VapoRub on children older than 2 can also help, especially at night when lying down can make a child feel stuffy. However, never use Vicks on children younger than 2.
* Frequent hand washing prevents the spread of viruses, but washing your hands a lot, especially in cold weather, can leave them dry and sore. Teach children to follow up with a soothing lotion, such as many fragrance-free varieties specially formulated for kids.
* When your child's throat is sore, he might be unwilling to eat or drink much. Offer a sugar-free fruit Popsicle instead. The coolness can help ease a sore throat and your child will get some hydration from the frozen juice.
Finally, don't overlook your own mental comfort and call the doctor if you feel your child's symptoms are worrisome.
"Most pediatricians are parents, too, and they would rather take a few minutes to reassure you that your child's cold symptoms will improve on their own than to not have you call about your sick child who really needs to be seen,” Dr. Tanya says. “Your pediatrician is there to help you, so if you feel something is important, pick up the phone and call."
New Research: Women with multiple sclerosis may carry gene
Women who have multiple sclerosis are more likely to have a gene associated with the disease than men. Research has shown that the number of people diagnosed with MS has been rising, and the rate has been rising faster for women than for men. The cause of MS is not known, but evidence suggests that it is triggered by environmental factors in people who are genetically susceptible to the disease.
-- American Academy of Neurology
Did You Know?
Men are nearly four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
To ensure that your family eats breakfast in the morning, pack meals to go with a banana, a bag of trail mix and a carton of milk.
Number to Know
18.5: In 2009, the prevalence of binge drinking among those with incomes of $50,000 or above was 18.5 percent while binge drinking among those with incomes of $15,000 or less was at 12.1 percent.
Children’s Health: Cigarette advertising and teen smoking
Researchers showed six cigarette advertisements and six advertisements from other products like candy and cell phones to 2,102 German adolescents who never smoked and monitored them for nine months. Of the original group, approximately 277 adolescents began smoking.
Initiation of smoking was associated with increased exposure to cigarette advertising but not to control ads. Those who saw the most cigarette advertising were more likely to begin smoking in the future. Researchers point out that cigarette advertising is a powerful lure for smoking.
-- American Academy of Pediatrics
Senior Health: Learning dementia risk factors
An online assessment tool developed by Johns Hopkins researchers may help worried seniors find out if they are at risk of developing dementia and determine whether they should see a physician, according to a new study. But the tool, which is being refined and validated, is not meant to replace a full evaluation from a doctor.
Seniors are sometimes afraid to mention they are having memory or other cognitive issues. The new tool, researchers say, lets them learn more about themselves and their individualized risk factors in the privacy of their homes. The aging population means that many more people will be diagnosed with dementia in the coming decades.
The Dementia Risk Assessment tool asks questions and includes a memory test, and it takes five to 10 minutes to complete online. Research is still being conducted. Find more information at www.alzcast.org.
-- Johns Hopkins Medicine
GateHouse News Service