September 28, 2016

Ask the Doctor – Tips for You and Your Children Heading Into Fall

Shutterstock Fall Kids PlayingBy Luella Guzman, MD

Pediatrician, Angel Pediatrics

Q: Does our family need flu shots in the fall?

A: Getting flu shots early in the fall gives your body the time to develop the antibodies (infection-fighting chemicals made by your immune system) to fight off the flu. Can you get the flu from the shots? No, it is a dead virus. You may feel achy and run a lowgrade fever after the shot as your immune system is activated. Can you get the flu if you’ve had a flu shot? Yes, you can: but it won’t be as severe, and you are much less likely to have complications, like pneumonia or death. We highly recommend your family get their flu shot as early as possible to stay healthier all season.

Q: What are some suggestions for healthy, kid-friendly snacks?

A: “Mommy, I’m hungry…” “No, I don’t want that!” Two refrains most mommies hear regularly, especially during the summer, when kids are more active. Is your child thirsty? Sometimes thirst is misinterpreted as hunger, so start with an offer of a cool drink. Ice water may be too cold for some children, but cool to room temperature is usually acceptable. Try to avoid sugary drinks: they don’t hydrate as well as water and they add extra, non-nutritious calories. Fruit juices can be diluted, and fresh fruit, like strawberries, can add a visual treat they can eat. Keep one or two servings of fresh fruit handy, as well as some cut-up raw vegetables that can be “dipped” in a small amount of dressing for a crunchy treat. We also like to put yogurt in the freezer for a healthy, lower fat and nutritious cool treat.

Q: What should I do if my child swallows a battery?

A: If your child swallows a battery, you should seek immediate medical care. Because the acids are so destructive to our throats, esophagus (the tube from our mouths to our stomachs), stomach and our intestines, it needs to be removed as soon as possible. It is usually easier to remove before it leaves the esophagus or stomach. Close follow-up with a GI specialist (a gastroenterologist, or “stomach/gut” doctor) is also necessary, because of “silent damage” caused by leaking acids can lead to ulcerations, bleeding and even death. And remember, kids have ears and a nose to stick things in, too!

Q: What are signs my child may need glasses?

A: Does your child squint to see the bird in the tree? Does he or she hold books close to their face to read? Do they have trouble seeing the board at school? These may be signs that your child should have an eye exam. Sometimes, one eye is stronger than the other, and corrective lenses or a patch can help strengthen the weaker eye. Children’s visual cortex, the section of the brain that receives and processes information from the eyes, continues to develop in children until about the age of eight. The earlier that corrective action is taken, the better chances your child has for good vision for life.



Dr. Guzman sees patients from the Angel Pediatrics practice located at 56 Medical Park Drive, Suite 204, in Franklin. To schedule an appointment, call (828) 349-8284.

This story originally appeared in Mission Health’s My Healthy Life magazine.


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