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December 09, 2014
Category: Family Medicine
Tags: flu   flu vaccine   flu season  

Our physicians at Palos Verdes Medical Group have been getting lots of questions regarding the flu vaccine not being very effective this season. This wonderful blog post by Dr. Tanya should help answer some of those questions you may have! If you have any other questions, feel free to comment on this post or contact our office!

The blog post below was originally posted on December 8, 2014 on Dr. Tanya's blog and can be accessed using the following link: http://www.drtanya.com/2014/12/flu 

 

Always Something New with the Flu

by Dr. Tanya

The flu has arrived! Hopefully you and your family have been vaccinated, are eating healthy, getting enough sleep and doing everything that you can to stay healthy this holiday season.  But sometimes even doing everything in your power to protect your family is not always enough.

Every year top scientists study flu patterns and try to anticipate which 3 or 4 flu strains will be most severe that year.  Sometimes they predict correctly and sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes the flu vaccine works great and sometimes it doesn’t protect as well as we’d hoped.

First, let’s get some flu facts straight.  The flu is a lung illness, not a stomach bug.  Many people mistakenly say they have “the flu” when they have vomiting and diarrhea, but that is not the actual flu (aka influenza virus).

The flu causes a high fever, cough and serious body aches. If you don’t have a fever and a cough, you don’t have the flu.  In addition, the flu can cause sore throat, runny nose, headache and fatigue.  You feel horrible, like you can’t get out of bed.  Symptoms last for about a week or two, but some people get much sicker and need to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, the flu still causes tens of thousands of deaths a year.

The best way to protect your family from the flu is with a flu vaccine, either shot or nasal spray. The CDC and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommend yearly flu vaccines for everyone 6 months of age and older.  Flu Mist (nasal spray flu vaccine) is very popular in my office (and with my own kids) and can be given to healthy people without asthma or wheezing age 2 to 49 years.

This year, research showed that the Flu Mist is more effective than the shot in kids age 3 to 8.  However, we also now know that the flu mist has not been found to be effective in protecting against last year’s H1N1 strain of the flu.  Which likely means it won’t be effective against H1N1 this year either.  Luckily we aren’t seeing much H1N1 right now in the U.S.  Also, many of us may have some immunity to H1N1 because we unfortunately caught it during the severe H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak 5 years ago.

This year’s flu vaccine covers 2 flu A strains (H1N1 and H3N2) and 1 or 2 Flu B strains (depending on the vaccine you get).  Although I would prefer to give everyone the flu vaccine that covers against all 4 strains (2 A strains and 2 B strains), there have been shortages of different types of flu vaccines this year, so the recommendation is to just get a flu vaccine.  Any type of flu vaccine is better than not getting a flu vaccine.

And even though any type of flu vaccine is better than none, last week the CDC announced that this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t protect against the most common circulating strain of flu, H3N2.  Really unfortunate since that is the strain we are seeing (around 80% of the current cases). The likely reason that the vaccine isn’t a good match is that the flu strain H3N2 has mutated since last season, which means it has slightly changed or drifted.  That doesn’t mean that you should skip the flu vaccine.  The flu vaccine may still protect partially or even fully against some H3N2 and there are other strains of the flu still covered in the vaccine.

Even with our wide spread vaccination campaigns and compliant patients, it’s looking to be a late, but potentially severe flu season. Unfortunately, the most common strain of the virus (H3N2) we are now seeing has been linked to higher rates of hospitalization and death, especially for those at high risk for complications—babies, young kids, anyone with asthma, heart problems or other chronic health conditions and the elderly.

So whether or not you received a flu vaccine (I’m still hoping you did), it’s important to keep in mind the symptoms—high fever, cough, body aches, headache, sore throat.  If you think you or a family member has the flu, call or see your doctor right away.  If caught early, antiviral medication can often be used to reduce symptoms and decrease chance the rest of your family will catch the flu.

As always, if you or anyone in your family is sick and has trouble breathing, can’t keep down fluids, has a fever for more than 4 days or looks really ill, seek medical attention right away.  And babies under 3 months of age should always been seen by a medical professional if they are sick or have a fever of 100.4 or higher.

Here’s to a healthy holiday season!

Dr. Tanya

By Palos Verdes Medical Group
August 05, 2014
Tags: Insect Repellant   Bug Spray   DEET  

Insect Repellents and Your Kids

Warmer weather means fun time outside, making memories, but it also means, bugs, bugs, bugs! One solution for repelling bugs is using bug spray, but is it safe for your children? Insect repellents come in many forms such as aerosols, sprays, liquids, creams and sticks. Some are made from chemicals, while others have natural ingredients. Repellents work for insect that bite such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers, biting fleas, but does not work for insects that sting like bees, hornets, and wasps.
 
Listed below are the different types of insect repellents on the market, as well as explanations on whether or not it is safe for your child to use them.
  • Chemical repellents with DEET: Considered the best defense against biting insects. It works for about 2 to 5 hours. Caution should be used when applying DEET repellent to children.
  • Picaridin and essential oil repellents: Works for about 3 to 8 hours. Still needs more studies to show how well it repels ticks. Since it is made from essential oils, allergic reactions can occur.
  • Chemical repellents with permethrin: A repellent that kills ticks on contact. Survives several washings and should only be applied on clothing.
  • Non-effective repellents: Wristbands with chemical repellents, garlic or vitamin B1 taken by mouth, ultrasonic devices that give off sound, bird or bat houses, and backyard bug zappers.

How to Use Repellents Safely

When using repellents for your children it is important to know how to properly use them. According to your pediatrician in Rolling Hills Estates, it is important to: 
  • Read the label and follow the directions
  • Only apply the repellent outside of clothing and on exposed skin
  • Spray in an open area
  • Use only enough to cover your child’s clothing and exposed skin
  • An adult should always apply insect repellent on your child
  • Wash your child with soap and water to remove the repellent when your child returns indoors
 
If you want to take extra steps besides using insect repellents, there are many steps that you can take to avoid insect bites. These protective measures include:
 
  • Dressing your child in thin, loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing that doesn't include bright colors
  • Encouraging your child to wear socks and shoes instead of sandals
  • Avoiding spending time outdoors during evening to early morning hours (dusk to dawn). This is when mosquitoes tend to bite the most
  • Avoiding scented soaps and other things that might attract mosquitoes and other bugs
  • Using a bug screen over your child's stroller
  • Controlling mosquitoes and other insects where your child plays
 
Using insect repellent can make playing outside much more enjoyable for your child. If you still have questions or concerns about your child and insect repellent, contact your Rolling Hills Estates pediatrician today!
By Palos Verdes Medical Group
August 05, 2014
Tags: Backyard Safety  

Backyard Safety for Your Children

Playing in the backyard is a popular pastime for children in the summertime. Just like every activity for your child, you want them to be safe and protected. There are numerous precautions you can take to childproof your backyard for safe play. 
 
According to your Rolling Hills Estates pediatrician, it is important to do the following to protect your child from harm:
 
  1. Carefully inspect your playground equipment. It is recommended that you have a proper shock-absorbing surface underneath your playground. Also be sure that the play set is properly anchored to the ground, that surfaces are smooth, that there are no protruding bolts, and that all “S” shaped hooks are closed all of the way.
  2. If you have a sandbox for your child, you will want to line it with landscape fabric to prevent weeds from growing up and to simplify water drainage. Covering the sandbox is also a good idea in order to keep pets and rodents, as well as their droppings, out of the sandbox.
  3. Be sure all landscape supplies and equipment are stored and secured in a locked shed.
  4. Pools are vital when it comes to backyard safety. Be sure your pool is properly barricaded. Install a fence that is at least four feet tall and make sure there are no weak areas that your child can squeeze through. The gate to the pool should also have a self-locking mechanism so that your child cannot open it. Pool alarms can be purchased to alert you if your child has opened the gate or if someone has fallen into the pool. Remove steps and ladders if the pool is not in use.
  5. Check the fences in your yard. Be sure there is no loose hardware, splinters, and missing slats.
  6. Outdoor furniture should be checked to make sure it is sturdy and safe. Garden swings should properly be secured to the ground.
  7. Outdoor electric outlets should have childproof outlets so that your child cannot open it.
  8. An outdoor grill or barbeque should be stored and secured when not in use. Propane tanks, matches, and lighter fluid as well as sharp utensils should not be accessible to your child at any time. Also, never leave the cooking area unsupervised when using the grill.
  9. A simple outdoor safety precaution is to ensure your child wears proper footwear and snug fit clothing. Clothing that is loose fit or has drawstrings and accessories can easily become caught on play equipment.
  10. Talk to your child about rules and boundaries when playing outside. This can help your child play safe by establishing areas that are off limits, rules for slides, play equipment, and other toys.
  11. Check out the plants in your backyard to be sure none of them are poisonous.
 
Supervising your child is also greatly recommended to avoid backyard play injuries. Although we can take many measures to ensure our child is safe, injuries can still occur that are out of our control. If you believe your child has suffered an injury, always contact your pediatrician in Rolling Hills Estates immediately.
By Palos Verdes Medical Group
June 17, 2014
Tags: Asthma  

Understanding Asthma to Help Your Child Breathe Easy

Does your child ever wheeze, cough, or feel tightness in the chest? If so, your child may be suffering from asthma. For most kids breathing is simple.  They breathe in through their nose and out through their mouths with the air going into the windpipe, which then travels through the airways and into the lungs.  However, children who suffer from asthma do not have as much of an easy time breathing, as their airways are very sensitive, making breathing a lot more difficult.  
 
And when your child has an asthma flare-up, or an asthma attack, it can be alarming and nerve-wracking.  When an asthma attack occurs, a person’s airways get swollen and narrower, making it harder for air to get in and out of the longs.  By understanding asthma, and asthma attacks, you can help your child breathe easier, and better.  
 

What Causes My Child’s Asthma Flare-Up?

Various triggers can cause your child’s asthma flare-up.  Some kids are sensitive to allergens, which are substances that cause allergic reactions in the airways.  Some common allergens for kids with asthma include:
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pollen
There are a lot of children who suffer from asthma flare-ups when they are near furry animals, such as dogs and cats because they have what is called animal dander in their fur.  This dander is a type of dandruff that is a trigger that can cause a powerful reaction in the airways. 
 
Some substances can trigger flare-ups because they irritate the airways.  These substances include:
  • Perfume
  • Chalk dust
  • Cigarette smoke

Treating Asthma 

If your child has asthma, they should try to avoid things that can cause their airways to tighten.  Some triggers, such as cats, colds, and chalk dust, can’t always be avoided.  In instances where the trigger cannot be avoided medication can help your child manage their asthma. Not everyone’s asthma is the same, but there are different types of medicine available to help treat and manage asthma.  
 
When treating asthma it is not like curing a sore throat or an earache, when everybody gets the same medicine.  Instead, your child’s pediatrician will think about the causes of your child’s asthma flare-ups, how fast they happen, and how serious they are.  With that, your pediatrician in Rolling Hills Estates will decide on the best kind of treatment for your child.  
 
Some children will take asthma medication only once in a while, when they have a flare-up.  This treatment is referred to rescue medicine because it works fast to open the airways, so that the person can breathe properly.  Other kids may need to take controller medicine every day, which works to keep flare-ups from happening.  
 
If your child is suffering from asthma, visit your pediatrician in Rolling Hills Estates for further diagnosis and treatment.  Depending on the asthma triggers, your Rolling Hills Estates pediatrician may prescribe an inhaler or other forms of treatment to help your child breathe better. 
By Palos Verdes Medical Group
June 17, 2014
Tags: Newborn Baby   Car Seat   Pediatrician  

Bringing Your Newborn Home

Preparing yourself for childbirth is important, but what about when you first leave the hospital with your newborn?  With pregnancy taking a full nine months, expectant parents need all the time they can to prepare themselves for the big event.  However, in the rush to paint the nursery that girlish pink or boyish blue, and buying baby furniture you may have overlooked some of the essentials of bringing your newborn baby home.  There is no official instruction manual for becoming a parent, but with help from your doctors and pediatrician in Rolling Hills Estates, you can ensure continual help throughout your child’s lifetime. 
 

Leaving the Hospital

Often, moms-to-be will pack clothes for the trip home before even going to the hospital.  Plan to bring loose-fitting clothing for yourself because you most likely won’t fit in your pre-pregnancy clothes.  Babies are frequently overdressed for their first trip home.  In warm weather, it is practical to dress your baby in a t-shirt and diaper and to wrap him or her in a baby blanket.  Hats are not necessary, but they can be a cute finishing touch, especially for the first picture in the hospital.   
 
If it is cold, add a snowsuit and an extra blanket for your baby.  Chances are much better that you will bring home a calm, contented baby if you do not spend too much time at the hospital trying to dress your newborn in a complicated outfit that requires pushing and pulling your baby’s arms and legs.  If you have not already made arrangements with your baby’s Rolling Hills Estates pediatrician, make sure to ask when the baby’s first checkup should be scheduled before you leave the hospital.  
 

The Car Ride Home

The most important item for the tip home with your newborn is a proper child safety seat (car seat).  Every state requires parents to have a safety seat before leaving the hospital because it is one of the best ways to protect your baby.  Even for a short trip, it is never safe for one of you to hold your baby in your arms while the other drives.  Your baby could be pulled from your arms and thrown against the dashboard by a quick stop.  
 
Infant-only seats are designed for rear-facing use only and fit infants better than convertible seats.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants and toddlers ride in rear-facing seats until they are 2-years-old or until they have reached the maximum weight and height limits recommended by the manufacturer.  Never put a rear-facing infant or convertible seat in the front seat of your car – always use the rear seat.
 

Finding a Pediatrician in Rolling Hills Estates

As a new parent, it is important to find a Rolling Hills Estates pediatrician with whom you feel comfortable.  If your child becomes ill, you want to have a good working relationship with a doctor you trust and respect, and who will be there to support you.  Since you will be visiting a pediatrician shortly after bringing your child home, you should not leave this choice for the last minute.  You have nine months to plan, so begin immediately.  
 
With your baby at home, watch for these signs that it is time to call your pediatrician in Rolling Hills Estates:
  • Breathing faster or irregular
  • Notice blueness or a darkness on the lips or face
  • Newborn has a fever
  • Newborn’s body temperature has dropped
  • See signs of dehydration
  • Baby’s belly button or circumcision area looks infected
Although most babies remain perfectly healthy after they are discharged from the hospital, it is important to watch for any signs of illness and take your child to your Rolling Hills Estates pediatrician for evaluation within a day or two of leaving the hospital.  




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The Promenade on the Peninsula
550 Deep Valley Drive, Suite 319
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274
310-544-6858

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