How do I know if my child has asthma?

Your child may have asthma if he or she wheezes, coughs and has trouble breathing. These symptoms may get worse when your child gets sick or exercises. Your child’s doctor will look for other reasons for these symptoms before diagnosing asthma.

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Is there anything I can do to help my child avoid asthma attacks?

You can help your child avoid asthma attacks by keeping him or her away from triggers (also called allergens) and irritants that can start an asthma attack. The following are some examples of triggers and irritants:

  • Air pollution
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pet dander
  • Exercise
  • Changes in temperature
  • Some foods
  • Heartburn
  • Sulfite (food preservative in red wine, beer, salad bars, dehydrated soups, and other foods)
  • Aspirin, or ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
  • Sinus infections
  • Strong emotions
  • Perfume
  • Spray-on deodorants
  • Viruses

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How can I help my child avoid asthma triggers?

If pollen and mold cause your symptoms, use your air conditioner, and try to keep the windows of your home and car closed. Change the filter on your heating and cooling system frequently.
To keep mold down, clean and air out bathrooms, kitchens and basements often. Keep the level of humidity under 50%. You can do this with an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
People who are allergic to dust are actually allergic to the droppings of dust mites. To reduce dust mites in your home, wash bedsheets weekly in hot water (above 130°F). Cover mattresses and pillows in airtight covers, and remove carpets and drapes. If you must have carpet, you can treat it with chemicals to help reduce dust mites. Try to avoid stuffed animals, dried flowers and other things that catch dust.
Pets can cause problems if you’re allergic to them. If you have a pet, keep it out of your bedroom.
Don’t allow smoking in your house or car. Tobacco smoke can make your asthma worse.

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How can I tell if my child’s asthma is serious?

Have your child use a peak flow meter every day. A peak flow meter measures how much air flows out of your child’s lungs. People with asthma have lower air flow in and out of their lungs than other people. Measuring peak flow levels can help you see problems with your child’s air flow before he or she has any symptoms of asthma.
A meter can also help tell you and your doctor how serious your child’s asthma attack is. You’ll be able to see when your child should take medicine or when you need emergency care for your child. Peak flow readings may also help you find the triggers that make your child’s asthma symptoms worse.

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What does diaper rash look like?

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Diaper rash usually causes mild redness and scaling where the diaper touches your baby’s skin. In bad cases, the rash can cause pimples, blisters and other sores. If your baby’s rash gets infected, the rash may be bright red and the skin may be swollen. Small red patches or spots may spread beyond the main part of the rash, even outside the diaper area.

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What causes diaper rash?

Most diaper rashes are caused by skin irritation. Irritation can be caused by diapers that rub against the skin, fit too tightly or are left on for too long. Your baby’s skin can also be irritated by the soap used to wash cloth diapers, or by some brands of disposable diapers or baby wipes.
Plastic pants that fit over diapers raise the temperature and moisture in the diaper area. Heat, moisture and irritated skin make it easier for diaper rash to start and for germs to grow.

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How is diaper rash prevented and treated?

The key to preventing and treating diaper rash is to keep your baby’s diaper area clean, cool and dry.
Change your baby’s diaper often, and let him or her go without a diaper when possible to let the air dry his or her skin.
Try placing your baby on an open cloth diaper during nap time. Check the diaper shortly after your baby falls asleep, and replace it if it’s wet. Babies often urinate right after falling asleep.
See the box below for tips on preventing and treating diaper rash. If these things don’t work, talk to your doctor.
Don’t use creams that contain boric acid, camphor, phenol, methyl salicylate or compound of benzoin tincture. These things can be harmful.
Tips on preventing and treating diaper rash
Check your baby’s diaper often and change it as soon as it’s wet or soiled.
Carefully clean your baby’s bottom between diaper changes. Use plain warm (not hot) water with or without a very mild soap.
Allow your baby’s skin to dry completely before putting on another diaper.
Use products that contain zinc oxide ointment (such as Desitin Ointment) or petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) to protect your baby’s skin from moisture.
Avoid using plastic pants.
If diaper rash persists, change the type of wipes, diapers or soap you’re using.

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What if my baby has an infection?

If your baby also has an infection with the rash, the rash may not get better by following these tips alone. Your doctor might give you a prescription for a special cream to use on your baby’s rash.

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What about powder?

Talcum powder and cornstarch aren’t recommended. Talcum powder can get in your baby’s lungs. Cornstarch may make a yeast infection worse.

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Should I use cloth or disposable diapers?

The choice is up to you. Some research suggests that because disposable diapers are more absorbent they keep babies drier.
If you use cloth diapers and wash them at home, boil them for 15 minutes on the stove after washing them to kill germs and remove soap that could irritate your baby’s skin.
But remember that the most important thing about diapers is to change them often.
Call your doctor if:

  • The diaper rash occurs in the first six weeks of life
  • Pimples and small ulcers form
  • Your baby has a fever
  • Your baby loses weight or isn’t eating as well as usual
  • Large bumps or nodules appear
  • The rash spreads to other areas, such as the arms, face or scalp
  • The rash doesn’t get better after trying the tips on treating diaper rash for one week

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What causes earaches?

A tube called the eustachian (say: "you-stay-shun") tube connects the middle ear with the back of the nose. Normally this tube lets fluid drain out of the middle ear. If bacteria or viruses infect the lining of your child’s eustachian tube, the tube gets swollen and fills with thick mucus. This keeps fluid in the ear from draining normally. Bacteria can grow in the fluid, increasing pressure behind the eardrum and causing pain.
The eustachian tubes can become blocked because of allergies, or a cold or other infection. In other cases, the adenoids (glands near the ear) become enlarged and block the eustachian tubes.
Acute ear infections usually clear up within one or two weeks. Sometimes, ear infections last longer and become chronic. After an infection, fluid may stay in the middle ear. This may lead to more infections and hearing loss.

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What are the symptoms of ear infections?

The most common symptoms of an acute ear infection are ear pain and fever. If your child is too young to tell you what hurts, he or she may cry or pull at his or her ear. Your child may also be irritable or listless, have trouble hearing, or not feel like eating or sleeping.

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What is the treatment for ear infections?

The treatment for ear infections may include any of the following:
If your doctor thinks the infection is caused by bacteria, he or she may prescribe an antibiotic. (Antibiotics don’t work for infections caused by viruses.) It’s very important to follow the directions for giving your child the medicine. Pain relievers like acetaminophen (brand names: Children’s or Infants’ Tylenol) and ibuprofen (brand names: Children’s Advil or Children’s Motrin) can help make your child feel better and reduce fever. Don’t give your child aspirin unless your doctor says it’s okay.
A warm, not hot, heating pad held over the ear can also help relieve the earache. Ear drops to relieve pain are sometimes prescribed.

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What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is an infection caused by bacteria. It is called "strep," because the bacteria that causes the infection is called streptococcus.
Adults with strep throat may have a sore throat, a fever and swollen neck glands. They usually don’t have a cough or a runny nose.
Children with strep throat have a sore throat and may have tummy pain or a red rash with small spots. The rash is worse under the arms and in skin creases.

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How is strep throat treated?

Your doctor may give you or your child an antibiotic. Antibiotics kill bacteria, which helps strep throat go away a little faster. It can also prevent a few rare but serious conditions that people with strep throat might get. It is important to take all of the medicine your doctor gives you.

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Should all sore throats be treated with antibiotics?

No. Not every sore throat is strep throat. Bacteria only cause about 5% to 10% of sore throats. The rest are caused by viruses or other problems, and antibiotics will not help. Your doctor can do a test to make sure it is strep throat.

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What tests can tell I have strep throat?

Your doctor may use a test called the rapid strep test. For this test, the doctor uses a long cotton swab to take some material from the back of your throat. The results of this test can be ready in about 15 minutes.
Your doctor may also do a culture of the throat material. A sample of the throat material is sent to a laboratory. This test is called a throat culture. It takes more than 24 hours to learn the results of a strep culture.
The rapid strep test and the culture can tell your doctor if you have strep throat. If something else is causing your sore throat, these tests do not tell what it is.

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Can other people catch my strep throat?

Yes. You can give the infection to other people until you have been treated with an antibiotic for one to three days. Children with strep throat should not go back to school or day care until their fever has gone away and they have taken an antibiotic for at least 24 hours.

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What can make my sore throat feel better?

Here are some things that might help you feel better:
Taking ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin) or acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol). Children should not take aspirin. Aspirin can cause Reyes syndrome -a serious illness- and in some cases, death when it is used in children under 18 who have the flu.
Gargling with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup [8 ounces] of warm water).
For adults and older children, sucking on throat lozenges, hard candy or pieces of ice.
Eating soft foods, drinking cool drinks or warm liquids or sucking on Popsicles.

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What is a normal temperature?

A normal temperature is about 98.6ºF when taken orally (by mouth). Temperatures taken rectally (by rectum) usually run 1º higher than those taken orally. So a normal temperature is about 99.6ºF when taken rectally. Many doctors define a fever as an oral temperature above 99.4ºF or a rectal temperature above 100.4ºF.

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How should I take my child’s temperature?

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The most accurate way to take your child’s temperature is orally or rectally with a digital thermometer. In a child younger than about four years, take the temperature rectally. In an older child, take it orally.
Mercury thermometers should not be used. Mercury is an environmental toxin, and you don’t want to risk exposing your family to it. If you have a mercury thermometer at home, you should remove it and use a digital thermometer. Don’t bundle your baby or child up too tightly before taking the temperature.
Never leave your child alone while taking his or her temperature.
Be sure you use the right thermometer. Read the package instructions to see if you have an oral or rectal thermometer.
If you’re taking your child’s temperature rectally, coat the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly (brand name: Vaseline) and insert it half an inch into the rectum. Hold the thermometer still and do not let go. When the thermometer beeps, remove it and check the digital reading.
If you’re taking your child’s temperature orally, place the end of the thermometer under the tongue and leave it there until the thermometer beeps. Remove the thermometer and check the digital reading.
After you’re done using the thermometer, wash it in cool, soapy water.

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When should I try to lower my child’s fever?

Fevers are a sign that the body is fighting an infection. The main reason to treat your child is to make him or her feel better. When your child is achy and fussy, you may want to give him or her some medicine.

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How much medicine is needed to lower a fever?

Acetaminophen (brand names: Children’s or Infants’ Tylenol) relieves pain and lowers fever. How much acetaminophen your child may need depends on his or her weight and age, as shown in the chart below. When the age and weight don’t match, use the weight as the main guide. The doses in the chart may be a little higher than what’s on the medicine package. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Talk to your doctor before giving ibuprofen (brand names: Children’s Advil, Children’s Motrin) to your child. Your doctor will tell you the correct dose for your child.

Age Weight Acetaminophen dose
(every 4 hours)
0-3 mos 6-11 lbs. Ask your family doctor
4-11 mos 12-17 lbs. 80 mg
1-2 yrs 18-23 lbs. 120 mg
2-3 yrs 24-35 lbs. 160 mg
4-5 yrs 36-47 lbs. 240 mg

Tips on giving medicine:

  • Don’t give more than 5 doses in 1 day.
  • Don’t give a baby younger than 4 months old medicine unless your family doctor tells you to.
  • Read labels carefully. Make sure you are giving your child the right amount of medicine.
  • If using drops, fill the dropper to the line.
  • For liquid elixir, use a liquid measuring device to make sure you give the right dose. Get one at your drug store or ask your pharmacist.

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Why not use aspirin to lower my child’s fever?

In rare cases, aspirin can cause Reye’s syndrome in children who have the flu or the chickenpox. Reye’s syndrome is a serious illness that can lead to death. Because it may be hard to tell if your child has one of these infections, it’s best not to use aspirin.

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Are there other ways to help my child feel better?

Give your child plenty to drink to prevent dehydration (not enough fluid in the body) and help the body cool itself.
Keep your child still and quiet.
Keep the room temperature at about 70ºF to 74ºF.
Dress your child in light cotton pajamas so that body heat can escape.
If your child is chilled, put on an extra blanket but remove it when the chills stop.

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Our Location

Tenney Pediatrics & Adolescents

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6501 East 87th Street
Kansas City, MO 64138
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Phone: (816) 444-8400
Fax: (816) 444-8407
Office hours: 8am to 5pm, M-F
Appointments taken 8am to 12pm & 2pm to 4pm
Walk-In Hours 8am to 11am & 2pm to 3pm