Dr. Paige Perriello (Photo by Ashley Twiggs)
Does my child have a cold or is it seasonal allergies?
Sometimes it can actually be difficult to tell, but there are a few things that might help you to tell the difference. First, most children under the age of 2 years old don’t develop significant environmental allergies. Also, in that age group, we would not want to assume it was allergies and not evaluate for other infections.
In general, children with allergies tend to be afebrile (not feverish), sneezing, and with a constant runny nose with clear discharge. If the eyes are involved, they tend to be red and itchy and may be swollen. Children with a cold can have fevers, thick nasal discharge and if the eyes are involved, they are more likely to have mucous and to not be itchy.
Finally, look for symptoms that seem to come and go only in certain environments. If your child is completely fine, but every time she rolls around in the grass she starts sneezing and gets a runny nose, talk to your doctor about potential allergies.
How do I know if my child has a concussion? How do we treat it?
A concussion is a complex process affecting the brain that is brought about by traumatic forces to the head, either direct or indirect. If your child gets any type of hit to the head caused by a player, a stick, the ball or the ground during a game, he should be evaluated immediately and by an athletic trainer if available. If there isn’t one around and, as a parent or coach, you are unsure if the player is unharmed, the most important motto for concussion in sports at all ages is, “When in doubt, keep them out.” If you are unsure if your child has a concussion, he should be removed immediately from practices and games until evaluated by a doctor. Some common signs of concussion to look out for are headache, nausea, fatigure, irritability, difficulty focusing in school, dizziness, light or noise sensitivity and sleeping problems.
How do I know if my child needs stitches?
As the weather warms and kids return outside to play, the rate of injuries increases. Often times, children will get cuts as a result of falls or other injuries. The most important thing to do at home is to stop the bleeding with firm, direct pressure if needed and then clean the wound with warm soap and water. After you’ve taken those steps, call your doctor’s office for advice. If the edges of the skin don’t touch easily or the cut goes all the way through the skin into the fat layer, then it is likely that some type of closure may be needed. Skin glue offers a nice alternative for closure in kids when it doesn’t appear to be serious. If you are having trouble getting the cut to stop bleeding, it will likely need attention and you should contact your doctor immediately.
Paige Perriello is a general pediatrician practicing at Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville. She is married, with a 2-year-old daughter.
Brush ’em toofers! Kiersten Jenkins gets a checkup with Dr. Stone. (Photo by Nick Strocchia)
Tooth hurty: Time for the dentist
When your baby’s first tooth pops into view, it’s time to call the dentist. We talked to pediatric dentist James R. Stone to find out what you can expect from the first visit.
First, Stone recommends scheduling an appointment in the morning. A well-rested child “will present the best chance of gaining their cooperation during a visit,” he said.
Before your little one ever says “Ahhh,” a staff member will brief you on the basics, including feeding practices (bottles versus “sippy” cups), oral habits (like thumb sucking and pacifier use), cavity causers, brushing techniques, and the importance of primary (baby) teeth.
To prepare, read books to your child at home about the dentist, but Stone suggests avoiding a pre-visit lecture. “You can overwhelm them if you tell them too many things,” he said.
During an exam, Stone checks the child’s bite, enamel, and soft tissue and looks for decay. If plaque has built up, he cleans the teeth, and every exam ends with a fluoride varnish.
Then comes the easy part—introducing your little one to the legendary prize box.—Taylor Harris