Don’t Kiss the Girl

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Eva Alessia, D.O.

In the Disney classic, “The Little Mermaid,” a crab named Sebastian sings “Kiss the Girl” to the Prince. It’s a good thing he didn’t succeed, or else he may have caught mono! Mono, also known as the “kissing disease,” is a virus that is spread through contaminated saliva, hence the nickname. Once the virus enters your body, symptoms may not show up until 30 to 50 days after exposure! The symptoms can overlap with other diseases, like strep and the flu. A person with mono feels lousy and tired, with muscle aches, headache, stomach ache, sore throat, nausea and fever.

To diagnose mono, a simple finger prick in the office is usually enough. Sometimes, blood has to be drawn. Since mono is a virus, there is no medicine to make the virus go away faster. Time, rest and fluids are generally all that are needed. Sometimes, the sore throat is so severe that we prescribe steroids to shrink the swelling of the throat, so the patient can eat and breathe more easily. In half the patients, the spleen is enlarged. Sometimes we can feel the spleen on exam and sometimes we can’t. A lot of blood passes through the spleen. If a patient with an enlarged spleen gets hit in the stomach, it can make the spleen tear. That can be very serious! For that reason, we do not let patients with mono participate in PE, sports or any activity where they could be hit in the stomach for four weeks.ariel-eric-prince-eric-22300657-1280-720

Ok, you finally feel better—now what? Even after you feel 100 percent, the virus is in your saliva for six months! And up to 20 to 30 percent of previously infected people can spread the virus in their saliva at any particular time, even years later! Even more important not to “Kiss the Girl – or Guy!”


Safety First

Nicole Keller, D.O.

Nicole Keller, D.O.

Keeping our kids healthy, growing and developing well and safe are major goals for parents. We discuss their health a lot on this blog and at their doctor’s visits. Their growth and development are key points to most well visits. So, for this blog, I’d like to talk about basic safety that might get overlooked or skimmed over at otherwise busy check-up appointments.

Newborns and Toddlers

  • Preventing falls: be careful with kids on beds, couches, around windows or stairs and on diaper changing tables – tumbles happen quickly and without notice – always keep a close eye and when in doubt put the baby on the floor where they can’t fall. Never use walkers with wheels as it makes for increased risk of a baby wheeling their way down a staircase or tipping over and hurting themselves.
  • Childproofing: this means putting up gates, locking cabinets and removing small or easily breakable (and swallowable!) items from children’s reach. Get down on the floor at their level to see what hidden dangers you might be missing. Be especially careful with cabinets that have potential poisons that babies can get to (cleaning products, medications, soaps/detergents, pest control, etc). If you have older kids in the home, make sure they know to keep their small toys away from the younger babies and toddlers to avoid choking risks.
  • Water safety: never leave a young child alone around water. This includes during bath time, in/around swimming areas (pools, lakes, retention ponds, etc), near buckets of water or any other source of collected water. Burns from hot water and drownings happen quickly and without notice. Always designate a “water watcher” to make sure an eye is kept on your little one at all times when around water. Set your water heater in your house to a max of 120°F to help prevent the likelihood of severe burns if water temps change quickly during bath time.

School Age Children

  • Outdoor safety: make sure your child knows to never go anywhere without parental consent (or escort). They should know to look both ways when crossing a street and hold a responsible person’s hand when crossing. Also, remind kids of stranger safety – never get in a car or go anywhere with a stranger no matter how nice they look, if they have a cool car, or if they are offering candy – be specific with your little one and make sure they know these specific tricks that a stranger may try to engage them with.Glowing Neon Safety Sign
  • Recreation: helmets are a must for any sport with wheels – this includes skateboards, bikes, scooters, ATVs, etc. All it takes is one head injury to spell disaster. Please make sure your kids have appropriately sized helmets for these activities. A helmet should fit snuggly and not move when your child nods their head. Make them “cooler” by allowing your child to decorate them with puffy paint or stickers so they are more likely to want to wear them. Feel free to add in elbow and knee pads while you’re at it too!
  • Bullies: make sure your child knows what to do if they or someone they know is being treated inappropriately. Designate a few people that they know to go to if they need to alert someone about these bad behaviors to help empower them to seek help in a safe and comfortable manner without delay.
  • Water safety: see above! Hopefully your child has had some type of swim exposure at this point to make sure they know how to be safe around water and swim/wade in water as well as float when needed.


  • Bullies: see above! Bullying can happen at any age – make sure your child is comfortable seeking help if needed.
  • Recreation: see above – helmets are still important!
  • Water safety: see above! Swim safety is a must at this age – floating and being comfortable in the water should be the minimum goal to shoot for.
  • Internet/phone safety: keep a close eye for these hidden dangers with parental monitoring apps and locks and discussing openly with your child internet/phone safety and expectations. Phones, tablets, computers and use of the internet is a privilege and should be treated that way. If your young adult knows these expectations from the start, safety can be more reasonably monitored. Lastly, no texting while driving! They should know this themselves and for their friends who are driving them around as well.
  • Alcohol, drugs, smoking: while this seems obvious, you have to start talking to your kids EARLY so they know from the beginning the dangers of these products. There is no safe amount of alcohol for a child, no safe cigarette, and no safe drug. Engaging in these behaviors at home with an adult monitoring them is no better. Be a good role model and make sure your young adult understands the danger that comes along with these risky behaviors. Make sure they know to never get in a car with someone who has had something to drink or has done drugs. Ensure they feel comfortable always talking to you as their parent to help them out of a situation like this in case they ever accidentally find themselves in harm’s way.
  • Communication: it is ever important to keep lines of communication open and honest between you and your tween/teen. If they feel comfortable talking to you as their parent, they are more likely to come to you if they get stuck in a risky situation. Make sure expectations are clearly discussed and rules are laid out and enforced. Be the person they can come talk to if they are in trouble and hopefully they’ll seek you out before things ever get bad.


There’s a Fungus Among Us!

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Eva Alessia, D.O.

With the hot, humid summer upon us, kids are more susceptible to fungal infections especially “athletes foot” and ringworm. Here is a little more about the “fungus among us!”

Fungal infections of the feet are commonly known as “athlete’s foot.” The skin of the feet is red and scaly; sometimes the skin cracks, especially between the toes. It can be itchy and have an unpleasant odor. To prevent athlete’s foot, the feet should be as dry as possible. Dry feet thoroughly after taking a bath/shower, or coming out of the pool. Pay attention to in between the toes. Wear shoes and socks that can “breathe,” such as cotton socks, leather shoes or sandals.

Contrary to the name, ringworm is not caused by a worm. Ringworm is a fungal infection of the body. The fungus thrives on warm, moist skin.  It is a circular pink patch with a scaly, raised red edge or border. As the patch gets larger, the middle starts to “clear” and look more like the child’s usual skin tone. It can be itchy as well. Sometimes one can get ringworm from affected puppies or kittens.

Both can be contagious, either from direct skin-to-skin contact or a break, like a scratch, in the child’s skin coming in contact with a surface that has the fungus on it, such as a wrestling mat.feet

Both are treated with over the counter anti-fungal creams and lotions; the feet can be treated with anti-fungal powder also. Treatment is about four weeks. However, if the fungus is on the scalp or nails, creams or anything applied directly to the skin will not work. In those two instances, the child needs to take an anti-fungal medicine by mouth.


Flaming Hot No-No’s!

Vrinda Kumar, M.D.

Vrinda Kumar, M.D.

Crunchy junk foods have always been tempting “treats” among young and old alike, and let’s be honest…we all indulge every now and then even though we know that these processed, fried, crunchy snacks are terrible for us. Over the past few years, however, there has been an evolution of this genre of foods that now involves the “Flamin’ Hot” flavors and other “flaming” or “spicy” flavors of cheese puffs, potato chips and even popcorn.

It turns out that these savory snacks may be the WORST of the worst snack foods, especially for our children. These spicy snacks contain cayenne powder in addition to the usual offenders found in crunchy junk foods (sodium, fat, oil, preservatives).

The spicy heat (cayenne) in these snacks release endorphins in the body, which are the same substances released by the body in response to exercise or in response to basically anything that makes the body feel good or makes us feel “warm and fuzzy.” Fatty/greasy foods do the same (which is why “comfort foods” are exactly that, ”comforting” and most of these tend to be unhealthy as well). When something causes the body to release endorphins, the body wants more of that thing. So, in turn, these fatty, fried, salty, spicy foods become ADDICTIVE.

Flamin’ Hot snacks are fried, salty, and spicy, so these tend to be REALLY addictive. The fact that these snacks are mostly fried, they can lead to significant weight gain quickly. The high sodium in these snacks can lead to high blood pressure, especially in children. The spice can cause stomach pain and gut irritation. Not only can this dangerous trifecta of fat, spice, and sodium cause/worsen symptoms of indigestion (acid reflux), but eating enough of these can cause gastritis (inflammation on the lining of the stomach). Severe gastritis can eventually lead to stomach bleeding or even ulcers.

There are a lot of unhealthy snacks surrounding us, and we should probably try to stay away from most, if not all, of them. With the rising popularity of spicy crunchy snacks, it is important to acknowledge that these, in particular, may be causing children significant
health issues and should be avoided completely.

Wait to ‘Just Keep Swimming!’

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal. It’s often caused by water that remains in your ear after swimming, creating a moist environment that leads to overgrowth of bacteria. The risk factors for getting swimmer’s ear include:

  • Having a very narrow or hairy ear canal
  • Living in a warm, humid climate
  • Having little or no earwax
  • Having a history of of ear infections
  • Having eczema or dry skin
  • Suffering from swimmer’s ear before.

Swimmer’s ear can be very painful. The pain is worse when you touch/move the earlobe or another part of the outer ear or when you chew. It hurts to lie on the affected ear. Other symptoms can include itching, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and discharge from the ear. The ear canal may be swollen and red. In severe cases, the outer ear can be red and swollen too.

No worries though! Swimmer’s ear is easily treated with antibiotic ear drops for a week. The only downside: you can’t go swimming while you are being treated.

Some tips to try and prevent swimmer’s ear:

  • Shake your head after swimming to try to remove as much water as possible.
  • Aim a hairdryer on low setting at your ear to evaporate the excess water.
  • Mix equal amounts of vinegar and rubbing alcohol and put a couple drops in your ears after swimming. Let the drops sit for 3-5 minutes. The alcohol helps the water evaporate and the vinegar keeps the pH of the ear canal balanced.
  • Over the counter drops (exact same thing as the rubbing alcohol-vinegar combo).Enjoy the summer swimming fun and if you use the tips above, then you too can “just keep swimming!”