Tag Archives: prevention

Prevent Hypothermia
 this Winter

November 30, 2013 by

A child’s normal core temperature ranges from 98-99 degrees. When playing outside in the cold and snow, however, a child’s body can lose heat quickly. That is when hypothermia becomes a concern.

Hypothermia Signs

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees. Warning signs include:

  • Body shivers
  • Fingers and toes feel numb
  • Exposed skin may look puffy and blue
  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle aches
  • Difficulty walking
  • Mental confusion
  • Slower breathing and heart rate
  • Irregular or erratic heart beat

Treating Hypothermia

Because severe hypothermia can be a life-threatening condition, a child with any level of hypothermia needs immediate attention. Below are quick steps for treating hypothermia:

  • Remove your child from the cold and remove any wet clothing.
  • Warm your child with blankets around the body, especially the neck and chest.
  • Offer a warm beverage, if your child is able to drink.
  • Share body heat by using skin-to-skin contact by lying next to your child.
  • Cover yourself and your child with a warm blanket.

If your child begins shaking violently or becomes confused, call 911. If breathing becomes very shallow or non-existent, begin CPR.

Winter Play Safety Tips

Boys Town Pediatrics encourages monitored outdoor play during the winter months. The best way to protect your child from hypothermia and other cold injuries is to prevent them from ever happening. Just follow these winter safety tips from Boys Town Pediatrics:

  • Stay covered by wearing a hat.
  • Keep dry by wearing waterproof gloves and boots.
  • Play smart and come inside every 30-60 minutes to warm up.
  • Wear layers to help stay comfortable during play.

If your child begins to complain of being cold or wet, make sure to take a break from play—go inside and grab a warm drink. Stay warm, have fun, and enjoy this winter season!

Same Day Pediatrics, a service of Boys Town Pediatrics, offers scheduled same-day sick visits for all Omaha children. Same Day Pediatrics is not an urgent care clinic, but a real pediatric clinic with scheduled appointment times, seven days a week. Call 402-334-SICK (7425) to schedule an appointment.

Rotavirus: Symptoms and Prevention

October 26, 2013 by

Rotavirus gastroenteritis is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children less than 5 years of age. By age 3, most children have been infected by at least one strain of this virus.

Transmission

Rotavirus infection outbreaks occur most often during winter and spring months. The common mode of transmission is through the fecal-oral route. The virus is transmitted from hands or inanimate objects to the mouth after contact with infected feces.

Rotavirus Symptoms

Once a child has been exposed to the virus it takes about two days for symptoms to appear. Rotavirus symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain

Typically, children will experience 24-48 hours of vomiting followed by three to nine days of diarrhea. This virus is extremely contagious with an incubation period of two to four days.

Managing Hydration

There is no specific treatment for rotavirus gastroenteritis. Because severe diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration, Boys Town Pediatrics stresses the importance of maintaining proper hydration.

Parents are encouraged to watch for signs of dehydration, which may include decreased urination (less than three times per 24 hours), lack of tears, and/or dry lips and mouth. If you notice these signs, seek medical attention.

Prevention

The best way to prevent rotavirus is to get vaccinated. This vaccine is given orally to infants at the two- and four-month or the two-, four-, and six-month well-check visits, depending on which vaccine is used. This vaccine can significantly reduce the severity of the rotaviral infection. Make sure to discuss this vaccine with your pediatrician.

Boys Town Pediatrics offers access to care 24 hours a day, seven days a week through extended evening and Saturday hours, Same Day Pediatrics clinics, and a 24-hour nurse helpline to answer your questions when your child is ill—any time of day or night. Call 402-498-1234 to schedule an appointment at any one of our convenient locations.

Surviving Heart Disease

January 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As a young woman of just 38 years old, Dionne Whitfield didn’t fit the typical description of a heart disease patient. But there she was, standing in front of the cardiologist, still tired and breathless after undergoing a treadmill test, trying to grasp the news that she had three major blockages.

She didn’t hear much after that. All she could think about was that she didn’t want to become a mere statistic. That she still wanted to have a family and live to see her potential children grow up. What was going to happen to her, she thought.

One week later, in August of 2012, Whitfield was back in the hospital undergoing triple bypass surgery. Today, Whitfield is doing great, and with age on her side, she is determined to take control of her health and her life again.

Looking back, she knows now that her unhealthy lifestyle habits were bound to catch up with her eventually. At 352 pounds, she ate whatever she wanted, often grabbing fast food along the way. She rarely exercised, and she had settled for the fact that she was overweight and nothing was going to change that. She was also African-American, a population that tends to have greater prevalence of risk factors for heart disease than Caucasian women.

“This has been a big eye-opening experience for me, and I don’t want to go back.” – Dionne Whitfield, heart disease patient

Whitfield’s attitude about her weight and health has done an about-face since then. Her attitude actually started to change with several warning signs shortly before the news of her blockages. In early January of last year, she learned that she was borderline diabetic. Concerned, Whitfield began attending group exercise classes and the pounds began to fall off. Motivated by her success, she began to make exercise a priority.

Then came her second warning. In July, she started becoming so short of breath that she could barely make the short walk from her office to the car. When things didn’t get better, she consulted with her doctor, who referred her to cardiologist Edmund Fiksinkski, M.D., at Nebraska Methodist Hospital, who performed the cardiac testing in which the blockages were found.

Whitfield’s surgery was performed by John Batter, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon at Nebraska Methodist Hospital. After surgery, she underwent six weeks of supervised cardiac rehabilitation. Whitfield exercises on her own now but is still considered in a recovery phase for the next year and follows a moderate exercise program while her arteries heal.

“Dionne has done great,” says Susana Harrington, a nurse practitioner at Nebraska Methodist Hospital, who worked with Dionne throughout her recovery. “She really owned it and became more determined than ever to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

“This has been a big eye-opening experience for me, and I don’t want to go back,” says Whitfield. She continues to work out regularly, watches what she eats, and even reads labels now before putting food in her grocery basket.

She has also lost more than 72 pounds and is determined to double that. “I feel so much better now,” says Whitfield. “I’m not breathless now, and exercising is getting easier.”

 “She really owned it and became more determined than ever to lead a healthy lifestyle.” – Susana Harrington, nurse practitioner at Nebraska Methodist Hospital

What women need to learn from this is that the development of cardiovascular disease is a lifelong process and that prevention is a lifelong effort, says Amy Arouni, M.D., cardiologist at Alegent Creighton Health. Controlling your risk factors very early in life can help prevent the development of heart disease later. This includes quitting smoking if you smoke, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a diet low in saturated fats with lots of fruits and vegetables, and watching your blood pressure and cholesterol. In fact, women can lower their heart disease risk by as much as 82 percent just by leading a healthy lifestyle, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Prevention is important because heart disease is the No. 1 killer of all women, claiming the lives of approximately a half million women each year.

The main difference between men and women is that women are more likely to develop heart disease in their 60s and 70s, about 10 years later in life than men.

That’s because after menopause, risk factors tend to rise in women, especially blood pressure and cholesterol levels and rates of obesity, says Eugenia Raichlin, M.D., cardiologist at The Nebraska Medical Center. Other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, and family history also raise a woman’s risk.

“The longer you wait, the greater the potential to suffer significant damage to the heart.” – Amy Arouni, M.D., cardiologist at Alegent Creighton Health

The consequences of heart disease also tend to be more severe in women. For instance, “a greater number of women die of sudden cardiac death before their arrival at a hospital (52 percent) compared to 42 percent of men,” says Dr. Raichlin. “Women often require more hospitalizations compared to men, have lower ratings of general well-being, and limitations in their abilities to perform activities of daily living. As a result, heart disease in women presents a unique and difficult challenge for physicians.”

In addition to prevention, women should also be aware of the symptoms of heart disease and the subtle changes in their bodies, says Dr. Arouni. “Unlike men, women’s symptoms tend to be more vague and atypical and may include mild neck, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal discomfort; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; sweating; lightheadedness or dizziness; extreme fatigue and/or a jaw ache that travels down the neck,” she says. “Because the symptoms tend to be vague, oftentimes, women will stay at home and ride it out.”

This is one of the key areas where women go wrong. “Getting help quickly is critical,” says Dr. Arouni. “The longer you wait, the greater the potential to suffer significant damage to the heart.”

While the development of heart disease in a woman’s 30s is less common, it does happen, especially when other risk factors are involved such as family history, obesity, or diabetes.

Whitfield feels fortunate that she and her doctors took her symptoms seriously and that she sought help early on. Now, she hopes she can help other women avoid the same fate by taking control of their health at a young age. “I feel very grateful to my family and friends and to the doctors and nurses that helped me get through this,” she says. “When you’re young, you don’t think anything can happen to you, but now I know differently. I don’t take my health for granted anymore.”