Managing Seasonal Allergies

We’ve managed to make it through a pretty harsh Winter (by CA standards), and Spring is now upon us.  Along with the warmer  temperatures and plentiful sunshine comes constant sniffling, sneezing, and itchy, water eyes–at least that’s what happens to me every Spring.

If you’re like me, you or your child may suffer from allergic rhinitis, or more commonly known as seasonal allergies.  Pollen is usually a trigger of the aforementioned symptoms.

Pollen counts are highest during windy days and earliest in the morning, so it is advisable to keep your child indoors during those times, if possible.  Engage your child with puzzles and games that can be played indoors.

Take measures to replace your indoor air filters every 3 months with HEPA filters that will help prevent pollen from your circulating in your home’s air supply.

There are also a number of over the counter drugs that you can take before going outdoors such as Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra that are pretty effective for treating seasonal allergies.  Each of these anti-histamines comes in a “- D” version, which denotes an additional decongestant that will help with your child’s runny nose.

Bullying and Your Child

If you’re a frequent surfer on the Internet, you’ve probably heard the story or have actually seen the video clip of Casey Heynes. Well, for those of you who have not yet seen or heard about it yet, Casey, a 12-year old boy in Australia, is being bullied by a couple of classmates in the school yard. The alleged accomplice to the bully seen on the video clip records as Casey is punched repeatedly in the face and body. After a couple rounds of punches, Casey decides he’s not going to take it anymore and picks up the bully, who coincidentally happens to be smaller physically than him, and body slams him on the concrete. For additional video commentary story, play the embedded video above.

Bullying is a form of abuse that involves act of continually physically and/or mentally abusing another person over a long period of time in order to assert power over a certain individual or groups. Everyone has probably had their fair share of bullies in their youth, and some may even have acted as bullies in their youth. As a parent, you might be quick to conclude that it is harmless, but recent studies indicate that bullying is not to be treated lightly. Research suggests that this type of prolonged abuse can lead to severe psychological trauma in children.

First, how can you tell if your child is being bullied?

Be on the lookout for these warning signs:

  • Damaged or missing clothing or other personal belongings
  • Unexplained bruises or other injuries
  • Few friends or close contacts
  • Reluctance to go to school or ride the school bus
  • Poor school performance
  • Headaches, stomachaches or other physical complaints
  • Trouble sleeping or eating

What can you do to stop the bullying?

  • Encourage your child to share his or her concerns. Remain calm, listen in a loving manner and support your child’s feelings. Express understanding and concern. You might say, “I understand you’re having a rough time. Let’s work together to deal with this.” Remind your child that he or she isn’t to blame for being bullied.
  • Learn as much as you can about the situation. Ask your child to describe how and when the bullying occurs and who is involved. Ask if other children or adults have witnessed any bullying incidents. Find out what your child may have done to try to stop the bullying.
  • Teach your child how to respond to the bullying. Don’t promote retaliation or fighting back against a bully. Instead, encourage your child to maintain his or her composure. He or she might say, “I want you to stop now,” and then simply walk away. Suggest sticking with a friend or group of friends while on the bus, in the cafeteria or wherever the bullying seems to happen. Remind your child that he or she can ask teachers or other school officials for help.
  • Contact school officials. Talk to your child’s teacher, the school counselor and the school principal. If your child has been physically attacked or otherwise threatened with harm, talk to school officials immediately to determine if the police should be involved. Don’t contact the bully’s parents yourself. You might also want to encourage school officials to address bullying — including cyberbullying — as part of the curriculum.
  • Follow up. Keep in contact with school officials. If the bullying seems to continue, be persistent.
  • Boost your child’s self-confidence. Help your child get involved in activities that can raise self-esteem, such as sports, music or art. Encourage your child to build friendships and develop his or her social skills.
  • Know when to seek professional help. Consider professional or school counseling for your child if his or her fear or anxiety becomes overwhelming.

Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Address the bullying issue head on with your child and listen to his/her concerns.  Next try to contact your child’s teacher and/or principal to discuss the issue, and if all else fails, seek professional help.


Red Cross Earthquake Checklist

The recent disasters in Japan should serve as a loud reminder to Californians to be as prepared as you possibly can for the “Big One.” The city and county of Los Angeles sits on a multitude of different fault lines that could move at anytime, triggering a massive earthquake. Take a look at this Earthquake checklist to see what you need to prepare for an earthquake (courtesy of the American Red Cross). Stay safe everyone!

Thinking of Going Organic?

Do you ever walk through a grocery store, notice all the ‘organic’ food options and wonder what the big difference was besides the higher price?

The term ‘organic’ refers to the way farmers grow their fruits, vegetables, and other produce items that you’ll find at your local grocery. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers, pesticides, plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms. In lieu of these manufactured chemicals, natural fertilizers such as manure or compost are used as well as natural organisms to control pests. Furthermore, organic farming promotes healthy use of the soil and is considered more environmentally friendly.

The immediate benefit to you and I is that we are eating fruits and vegetables that are chemical-free, and by buying organic, we’re also doing our part to preserve our environment for our children.

There aren’t any nutritional differences between organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables–an apple would have the same amount of vitamins and minerals regardless of how it was grown. The jury is still out on whether or not there are long-term health benefits of eating chemical-free fruits and vegetables. I personally do not want any additives and chemicals in my food that I do not have intimate knowledge of.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, so if you want the best bang for your buck and want to go organic, buy organic fruits and veggies that have thin outer skins such as grapes and tomatoes. You’re much better off buying the organic versions of grapes, tomatoes, and other produce that have thin outer membranes because they don’t have as thick of a barrier to protect from chemicals. For the thicker-skinned fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, you can save some money and just buy the regular versions. If you go with the regular version, I would suggest peeling off the outer skin before eating.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

A wise man (Ben Franklin) once proclaimed, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Fast forward 200 years, and the same quote still applies–especially with regard to your child’s health. We live in a world of smart phones, the Internet, busy jobs, and busy schedules. And it becomes increasingly difficult to find extra time out of the day to talk to someone about your child’s health.

Knowledge is a powerful thing as a parent, and there’s no better person to talk to about your child’s health than his/her Pediatrician. Case in point: a 10 minute conversation with your Doctor about establishing healthy eating and lifestyle habits can prevent serious diseases such as Diabetes later on in your child’s life. It’s easier to implement good habits rather than correct bad habits later on in life.

Not only will your child grow up healthier and happier, but you’ll save money and time in the long-term. It’s much easier to instill and enforce healthy habits than wait until your child is affected by a serious illness–hospital bills, continued medical treatments over a lifetime can be expensive.

Take a proactive approach to learning about your child’s health: utilize the Internet as a powerful resource, and when all else fails, talk to your Pediatrician.

Free $10 Starbucks Gift Card for Yelp Reviewers!

Providing top-notch patient care is our #1 priority, and as such, we’re always striving to improve our service and our clinic. We want to hear from our patients. What did you like? Dislike? What could we improve on?

For the week of February 21st thru the 27th, write a review for us on Yelp and receive a $10 Starbucks gift card in the mail. Click on this link to get to Dr. Gaw’s Yelp page. We’ll contact you via e-mail shortly after the review to verify your mailing address, and we’ll send you the gift card. Note that to qualify for the gift card, you must be either a regular Yelp reviewer or have written at least 2 reviews on Yelp, and have seen Dr. Gaw.

Your Child’s Vaccination Schedule

Are you wondering how often you should vaccinate your child, and what vaccines he/she should be receiving, if any? I’ve compiled the table below to give you a good idea of when and what vaccines should be administered based on your child’s age (use the vaccine legend table in the previous post in conjunction):

Age Vaccines
6 wks. – 2 mos. DtaP #1 HIB #1 Prevnar #1 Hep B #1
4 months DtaP #2 HIB #2 Prevnar #2 IPV #1
6 months DtaP #3 HIB #3 Prevnar #3 IPV #2
9 months Hep B #2      
12 months MMR #1 Varivax Prevnar #4  
15 months Hep B #3 IPV #3    
18 months DtaP #4 HIB #4    
2 years Hep A #1      
2.5 – 3 years Hep A #2      
5 years DtaP #5 IPV #4 MMR #2  
10 years Td – adult      
15 years Td – adult      

Note that there are always some mild to moderate side effects associated with any of the vaccines mentioned. It’s important to completely understand all risks before getting your child vaccinated, so call and ask! We’d be happy to talk to you about it.