Friday, September 27, 2013


We are starting to see patients in the office suffering from a very common illness that seems to have a spike in the fall.

The official name is Laryngotracheobronchitis, but for obvious reasons it is simply referred to as Croup. Much of the time Croup is caused by a virus.
It tends to afflict patients between the ages of 6 months- 6 years, but anyone can get it.
This illness causes inflammation in the upper airway. The air passages in the throat are narrowed due to the swelling and this often leads to breathing that is noisy and sometimes labored.

Croup is quite contagious. Usually kids will start showing some symptoms within a day or two after the exposure. Some children who are exposed will simply end up with the symptoms of the common cold.
Others get the classic croupy cough.

There are actually two distinct presentations.
Many patients will start off with a cold, sore throat, hoarse voice and mild fever. This progresses to the deep barky cough. The kids may be sick for 4- 7 days, but even when they are mostly better, it is quite normal for the cough to linger for a week or so.

Others have what is called acute spasmodic croup

With this, it is typical for the symptoms to start very suddenly in the middle of the night.
Your child may have seemed fine when they went to sleep but then they wake up in the wee hours sounding like a seal. This can freak out a lot of even the most hardy parent.

Your job is to keep your cool and do your best to keep your child from getting any more agitated.
Head into the bathroom and run a hot shower. Sit there in a steamy room (not in the actual shower) and sing softly, see if you can get them calm.
This type of croup usually lasts about three days.
The kids seem pretty okay during the day but the cough comes back at night. 
Running a humidifier during the night is often very helpful and the first night is usually the worst. 

If at any point your child is doing excessive drooling, seems agitated or is having progressively difficult breathing it is time to head to the emergency room.
More than half of the time, your child will be dramatically better by the time you get there. Somehow getting out in the night air is quite helpful.

For mild cases rest, steam and fluids will get you through.
For more severe cases your child will likely get a dose of steroids that will calm things down..

Friday, September 13, 2013

Poisonous Plant guide

Summer just zipped by and with Fall around the corner, some folks have the habit of moving some of the plants that have been enjoying the summer weather indoors.

It might be surprising just how many common house and garden plants have poisonous bulbs, seeds, berries, leaves, or flowers to tempt inquisitive babies and toddlers. Many youngsters are poisoned each year by sampling the greenery in their own houses and yards.
If you have an exploring baby or curious toddler, it is time to take a close, suspicious look at your potted plants and garden.
Keep in mind that you should check out the plants at any nanny share and/ or Grandma's house as well.

Remember the best offense is a good defense. Since one or more of these plants may be found in so many homes, gardens, or parks, try to train your child not to chew leaves, berries, or flowers. Move the very poisonous plants out of reach (watch out for fallen dead leaves too!) or get rid of it. If you are attached to a plant that is on the list, perhaps lend it to a friend or neighbor until your little one is out of the "everything in the mouth" stage. If you are a gardener, make sure that all bulbs and seeds are stored where your kids cannot get at them.

Teach your kids NEVER to eat any wild mushrooms.
Keep in mind this wonderful saying....

There are bold mushroom hunters and there are old mushroom hunters, but there are no old bold mushroom hunters. --- A wise person

So many of us have gardens full of marvelous succulents. Some of my patients have shown up with some impressive scratches from getting too close.

Just like a sensitivity to food, not all kids will be equally reactive to an exposure.
Reactions can range from mild vomiting and stomach cramps to more severe seizures and heart irregularities.

Pets can also have different reactions to certain plants. It is worth getting a list of plants that are toxic to pets from your vet.

Below is a list of some of the common house and garden plants with poisonous parts.

Plants causing severe or fatal poisoning are marked *.
Plants causing rashes are marked with°.

When in doubt, call the California Poison Action Line.

             Plants                                         Poisonous Parts
African violet                                           Leaves
Amaryllis-garden                                      Bulbs
Azalea *                                                   Leaves
Castor bean                                             All parts
Cherries *                                               Seeds and leaves
Citrus fruits                                               Leaves
Crown of thorns°                                      Milky sap
Cyclamen*                                              Tuber
Daffodil*                                                 Bulbs
Delphinium                                              Young plant, seeds
Elephant ear*                                          All parts
Figs°                                                       Milky sap
Four o'clock*                                         Root, seeds
Foxglove*                                              Leaves
Holly-English                                          Berries
Hyacinth*                                               Bulbs
Hydrangea                                              Leaves
Impatiens                                              Young stems, leaves
Iris°                                                      Rhizomes
Ivy-English, German, ground                 Leaves, stems, berries
Larkspur*                                               Young plants, seeds
Laurel-Australian mountain                      All leaves
Lily-of-the-Valley                                     Leaves, flowers
Lilies                                                       Bulbs
Lupines                                                  Leaves, pods, seeds
Mistletoe*                                               Berries
Narcissus*                                               Bulbs
Oaks                                                       Acorns, foliage
Oleander*                                              All parts
Peaches                                                  Seeds, leaves
Philodendron                                          Stems, leaves
Plums                                                    Seeds, leaves
Poinsettia*                                             Milky sap
Potato-Irish                                          Green skin on tubers
Primrose                                               Leaves, stem
Rhododendron*                                    Leaves
Rhubarb*°                                            Leaves
Sweet peas                                           Stem
Tomato                                                Green foliage
Tulip*                                                  Bulbs
Wisteria                                               Pods and seed 
Yew*                                                   Foliage, bark, seeds

 Be Safe!!