April Newsletter Emailed 4/17/13
In case you were wondering about all the vomiting and diarrhea this past winter, it is because of a new strain of virus, called norovirus GII.4 Sydney. New strains of norovirus develop all the time but this seasonâ€™s strain appeared to have been particularly troublesome. The virus was first identified in Australia (hence the name) and rapidly spread to Japan, the Netherlands and the US, accounting for over 60% of diarrheal episodes in December and January. Norovirus is a particularly challenging disease because 30% of people are asymptomatic, but are still shedding billions of particles a day. Since it only takes 18 particles to cause illness, it is easy to understand why this virus caused so much illness this winter.
Senders Says: Fortunately, the mini epidemic is on the wane now. But not a minute too soon as 10% of those affected were hospitalized. As reported in an earlier newsletter, the challenge in producing a vaccine like the one we currently give newborns to protect against rotovirus is that there are so many strains and they mutate so rapidly. So since 51% of all cases are caused by direct person to person contact, the only message is to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating any food, including and especially, snacks in the car.
Treating pediatric allergic rhinitis (allergic runny nose) significantly improved asthma symptoms in patients with both conditions. In an evaluation of 16 controlled studies that evaluated more than 3000 children aged 2-18, the use of nasal steroids not only improved nasal symptoms, symptoms of sleep apnea and memory, but it also improved symptoms of asthma.
Senders Says: This is really news we can use especially as April showers bring May flowers and May allergies. Patients who suffer from allergies, either throughout the year because of dust and mold allergies or just during tree, weed and ragweed seasons, and who also suffer from asthma, can benefit from using nasal steroids. If your childâ€™s asthma is out of control during the spring allergy season, come on in and we should be able to help you. And if your child is wheezing a bit more lately, it may be time for a spring asthma tune-up!
32% of Americans say they put off medical treatment for themselves or for their families because of the cost according to Gallup up from 19% ten years ago.
Senders Says: Recent studies suggest that the best bang for your buck is a well visit during which multiple issues can be discussed. So donâ€™t forget to schedule your childâ€™s well visit today. And remember, we are very sensitive to the costs of medications and medical testing and we try to give you the lowest cost medication with the best potential outcome. If you are ever confronted by a medication that â€œcosts too muchâ€, let us know and we will help you look for an alternative.
Eczema is more than just dry skin. With the prevalence in the first 2 years of life rising from 9% to 20%, the search continues for a good explanation. One current theory borne out by genetic testing suggests that there is a mutation in the filaggrin gene. Filaggrin gets broken up into sponge like substances in the skin that holds onto water. 28% of Caucasian children with eczema were found to have mutations in this gene, leading to drier skin and more itching.
Senders Says: The most recent research suggests 3 beneficial interventions. 1) Use of bleach baths 1-2 times a week. Use Â¼ capful of bleach per bathtub of water and the chlorine kills many of the harmful germs that worsen eczema like symptoms 2) Aggressive treatment with moisturizers prevents the skin from being so permeable and reduces the likelihood of allergy sensitization and the subsequent development of other allergic symptoms. We like Cereve, a cream that penetrates the dead layer of skin and forms a natural barrier. 3) Because children with eczema have more emotional and behavioral issues as well as ADHD, we are very aggressive in insuring that your child with eczema gets a good night sleep. If you are concerned about lack of sleep in your child with eczema, let us know.
Reading in the dark does not harm us like our mothers said it would according to Jim Sheedy, Director of the Vision Performance Institute at Oregonâ€™s Pacific University in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (April 9 edition). Darkness causes the eyes to dilate, resulting in a smaller field depth and the need to change focus which causes the eyes to feel tired and the body to be more exhausted. But isnâ€™t that the goal of reading under the covers?
Senders Says: Another treasured axiom bites the dust. Because information like this is readily available on the web, your kids probably already know that reading in the dark doesnâ€™t cause any long term damage and doesnâ€™t predispose them to wearing glasses. Understanding the mechanics of eye adaptation to the dark also helps explain a fascinating piece of minutiae - why pirates wear eye patches. The eyes adapt quickly when going from dark to light but take about 25 minutes to adjust in the opposite direction, when going from bright light to deep darkness because they have to regenerate photo pigments. â€œSeamen must constantly move between the pitch black of lower decks and the bright sunshine above. Smart pirates wore a patch over one eye to keep it dark adapted outside,â€ according to Dr. Sheedy. This way if a battle broke out, the pirate could drop onto the lower deck, simply switch the patch to the outdoor eye and he could see in the dark right away, allowing him to battle right away. Neat trivia to share with your kids!
Scientists now understand more about the biochemical basis behind trust. Scientist, Paul Zak has found that oxytocin, the chemical commonly used to induce labor, is at the heart of the generous and caring response that every culture identifies as the â€œgolden ruleâ€. Many group activities such as singing, dancing and praying cause an increase in oxytocin and this helps promote connectiveness and caring. Those who produce the most oxytocin are the happiest and healthiest because they are the most connected.
Senders Says: In his book, The Moral Molecule, (Penguin Press, 2012), Dr. Zak describes a zany experiment that he has been doing for a number of years. He warns visitors to his lab that before they leave, he will be giving them a hug. By forecasting a hug, he is indicating how much he trusts his guest which increases their oxytocin levels, making them more likely to move out of their comfort zone and deepening the intimacy of the discussion. Try the hug idea yourself. It really works.
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