Mayo Clinic Health System provides Eau Claire, Wis., and the surrounding communities with a wide range of medical specialties, including comprehensive pediatric and adolescent medicine, women’s health, cardiac and trauma care services. As part of Mayo Clinic Health System we offer a network of community-based health care providers in several locations throughout west-central Wisconsin including Barron, Bloomer, Cameron, Chetek, Chippewa Falls, Colfax, Eau Claire, Menomonie, Mondovi, Osseo, Prairie Farm and Rice Lake.
Mayo Clinic Health System – Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine FAQ
Q: What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?
A: A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Its effects are usually temporary, but can include problems with headache, concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination.
Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport, such as football. Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Dizziness or "seeing stars"
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
It is important for anyone who has a head injury to be evaluated by a doctor within a day or two of the injury, even if emergency care isn't required. If your child has received a head injury that concerns you, call your child's doctor immediately. Depending on the signs and symptoms, your doctor may recommend seeking immediate medical care.
For athletes, a concussion needs time and rest to heal properly. No one should return to play or vigorous activity while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present. Experts recommend an athlete with a suspected concussion not return to play until he or she has been medically evaluated. They also recommend child and adolescent athletes with a concussion not return to play on the same day as their injury.
Q: What should I do if I have been bitten or stung by an insect?
A: Signs and symptoms of an insect bite result from the injection of venom or other substances into your skin. The venom causes pain and can sometimes trigger an allergic reaction.
Most reactions to insect bites are mild — an annoying itching or stinging sensation and mild swelling that disappears within a day or so. A delayed reaction may cause fever, hives, painful joints and swollen glands. You might experience both the immediate and the delayed reactions from the same insect bite or sting. Only a small percentage of people develop severe reactions (anaphylaxis) to insect venom.
For a mild reaction to a bite, follow these helpful tips:
- Move to a safe area to avoid more bites or stings
- Remove the stinger and wash the area with soap and water
- Apply a cold pack or cloth filled with ice to reduce pain and swelling
- If needed, try a pain reliever, such as inbuprofen or acetaminophen to ease pain from bites or stings
- Apply a topical cream to ease pain and provide itch relief
Contact your doctor if you have concerns about your insect bite or sting.
Call 911 or emergency medical assistance if you experience any of these severe signs and symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the lips or throat
- Rapid heartbeat
- Hives, cramps and vomiting
Q: At what age do children stop wetting the bed?
A: Bed-wetting is a normal part of a child’s development. Most children are toilet-trained by age 4, but there is no set date for fully developing bladder control. Most children outgrow bed-wetting on their own, but some may need a little help. And, in some cases, bed-wetting may be a sign of an underlying condition that needs medical attention.
You should consult your child’s doctor if:
During this time, it is important to be patient, supportive and understanding with your child. Bed-wetting is a source of anxiety and frustration for him or her, and getting upset or showing your frustration will only cause to elevate these emotions.
- Your child is still bed-wetting after age 6 or 7.
- Your child starts wetting the bed after a period of being dry.
- The bed-wetting is accompanied by painful urination, unusual thirst, pink urine or snoring.
Q: What kind of protection should be used for children playing outside?
A: For babies younger than six months:
For babies six months and older:
- Keep your baby out of direct sunlight. Protect your baby against sun exposure by dressing him or her in protective clothing, a hat with a brim and sunglasses.
- Apply sunscreen liberally. Avoid exposure to sun during peak hours — generally from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also dress your baby in protective clothing, a hat with a brim and sunglasses.
Q: How can I tell if my newborn is ill?
A: Infants are especially susceptible to colds because they haven’t yet developed resistance to most of the viruses that cause them. There are signs and symptoms to watch for that could indicate your baby is not feeling well. They include:
If your baby shows any of these signs or symptoms, or if you are uncertain about whether or not he or she is ill, contact your baby’s doctor.
- Baby is not feeding well (colds in newborns can be interfere with nursing or breathing through the nose).
- Baby is sleeping more than usual.
- A feeling that something is not quite right with your baby.
Q: I worry my teenager will encounter temptations to try alcohol. What can I do? Where can I get some information to be better prepared to handle this?
A: You are not alone in worrying about the temptations of underage drinking. There is a website called www.getinvolvedasap.org that has helpful resources and information about this issue.
Q: What is childhood obesity?
A: Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity can be caused by some genetic and hormonal causes, but most of the time it is caused by children eating too much and exercising too little.
One of the best ways to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the diet and exercise habits of not only your child, but your entire family. Follow these helpful tips:
- Choose fruits and vegetables when buying groceries or looking for a snack.
- Limit sweetened beverages, including those containing fruit juice.
- Sit down together for family meals.
- Limit the number of times you eat out.
- Limit recreational computer and TV time to no more than two hours a day.
- Emphasize activity, not exercise. Playing hide-and-seek, tag or jump rope are great for burning calories and improving fitness.
- Find activities your child likes to do.
- If you want an active child, be active yourself.
If you are concerned about your child’s weight level or the possible health risks associated with overweight children, you should contact your child’s primary care provider.
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Q: My child is showing possible symptoms of an ear infection. Should I take my child to see a doctor right away?
A: Symptoms of ear infections usually improve with the first couple of days, and most infections clear up on their own within one to two weeks without any treatment. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend a wait-and-see approach for the first 48 to 72 hours for anyone who is otherwise healthy and who is:
• Six months to 2 years of age with mild symptoms and an uncertain diagnosis.
• More than 2 years old with mild symptoms or an uncertain diagnosis.
However, call your child’s doctor if:
• Ear pain is severe.
• Your infant or toddler is sleepless or irritable after a cold or other upper respiratory infection.
• You observe a discharge of fluid, pus or bloody discharge from the ear.
Ear infection signs and symptoms common in children may include:
• Ear pain, especially when lying down
• Tugging or pulling on ear
• Difficulty sleeping
• Crying more than usual
• Acting more irritable than usual
• Difficulty hearing or responding to sounds
• Loss of balance
• Fever of 100 degrees Farenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher
• Drainage of fluid from ear
• Loss of appetite
Q: My baby cries for long periods of time and nothing I do seems to offer any comfort. Does my baby have colic?
A: Your baby may have colic. Colic is defined as crying more than three hours a day, three days a week for more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. In a healthy, well-fed baby, signs of colic include:
• Predictable crying episodes. A baby who has colic often cries about the same time every day, usually in the late afternoon or evening. Colic episodes may last from a few minutes to three hours or more on any given day. The crying usually begins suddenly and for no clear reason.
• Intense or inconsolable crying. Colic crying is intense and often high pitched. Your baby’s face may be flushed and he or she is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to comfort.
• Posture changes. Curled up legs, clenched fists and tensed abdominal muscles are common during colic episodes.
Colic usually starts a few weeks after birth and often improves by age three months. By ages four to five months, the majority of babies with colic have improved.
Contact your baby’s doctor if you are concerned about your baby’s crying, especially if you notice changes in your baby’s eating, sleeping or behavior. Seek immediate medical attention if your baby’s crying could be the result of a fall or injury.
Q: Do vaccines cause autism?
A: Vaccines do not cause autism. Despite much controversy on the topic, researchers haven’t found a connection between autism and childhood vaccines. In fact, the original study that ignited the debate years ago has been retracted. Although signs of autism may appear at about the same time children receive certain vaccines — such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine — this is simply a coincidence. For a list of the current vaccine schedule for children, contact your child’s doctor.
Q: Every night, my daughter begs me to stay in her bedroom until she falls asleep. What can I do to make her comfortable to fall asleep on her own?
A: To encourage your child to fall asleep alone, help him or her feel secure. Start with a bedtime routine. Give your child a favorite comfort item, such as a stuffed animal or a blanket, for company. If your child is afraid of the dark, turn on a night light or leave the bedroom door open. If your child continues to resist, you might promise to check on him or her every ten minutes until he or she falls asleep. During these “check ups,” praise your child for being so quiet and staying in bed. It is important to remember you are helping your child to learn to fall asleep alone. If you give in and climb into bed with your child, that is what he or she will remember, and probably expect the next night.
Q: Should my child see a doctor immediately if he is running a fever?
A: Fevers by themselves may not be a cause for alarm or a reason to call a doctor. However, there are some circumstances when you should seek medical advice for your baby or child.
Call your baby’s doctor if your baby has a fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or higher. You should also call the doctor if your baby:
• Is younger than 3 months of age.
• Refuses to eat or drink.
• Has a fever and unexplained irritability, such as marked crying during a diaper change or when moved.
• Has a fever and seems lethargic and unresponsive. In infants and children younger than age 2, these may be signs of meningitis, an infection and inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. If you are worried that your baby might have meningitis, see your baby’s doctor immediately.
• Is a newborn and has a lower than normal temperature — less than 97 F (36.1 C). Very young babies may not regulate their body temperature well when they are ill and may become cold rather than hot.
Children often tolerate fevers well, although high temperatures may cause parents concern. It’s best to be guided more by how your child acts than only by temperature measurement. There’s probably no cause for alarm if your child has a fever but is responsive — making eye contact with you and responding to your facial expressions and to your voice — and is drinking fluids and playing. Call your child’s doctor if your child:
• Is listless or irritable, vomits repeatedly, has a severe headache or stomach ache, or has any other symptoms causing significant discomfort.
• Has a fever after being left in a hot car. Seek medical care immediately.
• Has a fever that persists longer than one day (in children younger than age 2) or longer than three days (in children ages 2 and older).
Ask your child’s doctor for guidance if you have special circumstances, such as a child with immune system problems or with a pre-existing illness. Your child’s doctor also may recommend different precautions if your child has just started taking a new prescription medicine. Sometimes older children can have a lower-than-normal temperature. This can happen to older children with severe neurological impairments, children with life-threatening bacterial infection in the blood (sepsis) and children with suppressed immune systems.
Q: My child is a picky eater. We often have struggles during mealtime. What can I do to ensure she is eating a balanced and nutritious diet?
A: You are not alone if your child’s nutrition is a sore topic in your household. Many parents worry about what their children eat, and don’t eat. However, most kids get plenty of variety and nutrition in their diets over the course of a week. Until your child’s food preferences mature, consider these ten tips for preventing mealtime battles:
1. Respect your child’s appetite, or lack of one. Young children tend to eat only when they’re hungry. If your child isn’t hungry, don’t force a meal or snack.
2. Stick to the routine. Serve meals and snacks at about the same time every day.
3. Be patient with new foods. Your child may need repeated exposure to a new food before he or she takes the first bite.
4. Make it fun. Serve vegetables with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters.
5. Recruit your child’s help. At the store, ask your child to help select fruits and vegetables. At home, ask your child to help rinse vegetables or set the table.
6. Set a good example. If you eat a variety of healthy foods, your child is more likely to follow suit.
7. Be sneaky. Add chopped broccoli to spaghetti sauce or mix grated zucchini and carrots into casseroles and soups.
8. Minimize distractions. Turn off the television during meals and do not allow toys or books at the table.
9. Don’t offer dessert as a reward. Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which may only increase your child’s desire for sweets.
10. Don’t be a short order cook. Preparing a separate meal for your child after he or she rejects the original meal may encourage your child’s picky eating. Keep serving your child healthy choices until they become familiar.
If you are concerned that picky eating is compromising your child’s growth and development, or if certain foods make your child ill, consult your child’s doctor.
Q: What are the signs and symptoms of asthma in children?
A: Common childhood asthma signs and symptoms include:
- Frequent, intermittent coughing.
- A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest congestion or tightness.
- Chest pain, particularly in younger children.
Other signs and symptoms of childhood asthma include:
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.
- Bouts of coughing or wheezing that get worse with a respiratory infection, such as cold or the flu.
- Delayed recovery or bronchitis after a respiratory infection.
- Trouble breathing that may limit play or exercise.
- Fatigue, which can be caused by poor sleep.
Asthma signs and symptoms may vary from child to child, and may get worse or better over time. While wheezing is most commonly associated with asthma, not all children with asthma wheeze. Your child may have only one sign or symptom, such as a lingering cough or chest congestion.
The underlying causes of childhood asthma aren’t fully understood. Developing an overly sensitive immune system generally plays a role. Some factors thought to be involved include:
- Inherited traits.
- Some types of airway infections at a very young age.
- Exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke or air pollution.
Increased immune system sensitivity causes the lungs and airways to easily become swollen and produce mucus when exposed to certain triggers. These triggers vary from child to child and can include:
- Viral infections such as the common cold.
- Exposure to air pollutants, such as tobacco smoke.
- Allergies to dust mites, pet dander, pollen or mold.
- Physical activity.
- Weather changes or cold air.
Sometimes, asthma symptoms occur with no apparent triggers.
Take your child to see a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect he or she may have asthma. Early treatment will not only help control disruptive asthma flare-ups, it may also prevent permanent lung changes that can worsen asthma symptoms.