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Recognizing Signs of Asthma Attacks

 

The reason some children suffer asthma and not others isn’t 100% clear but its partly genetics. Of course this shouldn’t cramp your child’s playtime! Speak to your doctor about safe and effective medications tailored just to your child’s needs and remember to write up an asthma action plan-a simple step by step guide to walk you through times of emergency-just as you has an evacuation plan, this is a plan for your child.

This video is made upon request by one of our Instagram followers who asked me what signs she should look out for during as asthma attack beside the skin tugging (which I’ll explain later). For everyone else watching, it could be a life-saver because recognizing the signs of an asthma attack and acting quickly is the goal of the day.
Asthma attacks occur when the body recognizes foreign particles entering the body and as a natural defense mechanism, limits the air flow to minimize further exposure. This air flow limitation causes the difficulty breathing, the wheezing sound you hear and the coughing fits.

Triggers include viruses or bacteria (the same ones as during a cold),passive cigarette smoke, weather changes (even when the air is coldest such as early morning or late at night), the reflux of acid and food from the stomach, and environmental irritants such as saw dust from daddy’s man cave.

Minor Signs

Where do you look to recognize the signs of an asthma attack? Immediate ones that may come to your mind include: 1) rapid breathing 2) wheezing and 3) coughing. And you would be correct. These are the early signs of MINOR attack. SIT THEM UP STRAIGHT, Pull out the Ventolin and Spacer.

Severe signs

A SEVERE attack would look a little different. Your child may or may NOT be coughing and wheezing because by now they’re exhausted from all that coughing! Think of the last time you coughed so hard it hurt! Another reason they’d be tired is because the air flow is so limited, your child will be using every muscle they have in their chest to expand those lungs. So look for signs of 4) tiredness on the face-your child may even tell you their 5) tummy is sore because of their abdominal muscles being utilized. 6) Now our friend on Instagram mentioned skin tugging, what is that? It’s when those same abdominal muscles are working over-time expanding and contracting so much so that the surround soft skin gets stretched taut giving rise to the term tugging. The medical term for this is retractions. It’s most obvious around the neck area and ribs (I’ll stick a picture here for you to see). In a SEVERE attack, call ambulance 000 SIT THEM UP STRAIGHT and give Ventolin whilst you wait.

Life Threatening Signs

Now this third and last stage during an asthma attack is rare but is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY! It is life-threatening and you must call ambulance 000 SIT THEM UP STRAIGHT and also give Ventolin whilst you wait. Signs to look out for: exhaustion, gasping for air, NO cough or wheeze-remember you’re too tired to even cough or breathe so if there’s no air flow, there’s no wheezing sound, confusion and blue lips.

If there’s ONE thing you took from this video, it’s to call 000 even when you’re unsure of the degree of asthma. Delays can be deadly.

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Can probiotics benefit children with autism spectrum disorders?

WELCOME TO THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF ‘WHAT’S OUR TAKE ON IT!?’ 

(We read scientific journals and distill the core ideas into bite-sized, easy-to-read English!)

First the formalities…todays journal is from Houston, Texas, USA and poses the question-do probiotics work for our kids with autism? Click the link below if you want to see the full article:

Navarro F, Liu Y, Rhoads JM. Can probiotics benefit children with autism spectrum disorders? World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2016;22(46):10093-10102. doi:10.3748/wjg.v22.i46.10093. Click here for original text

IMO probiotics are a confusing lot! Walk into any good pharmacy these days and they’ll present you with a 20+ selection to choose from. Combine these with the new ones coming out each year and it’s easy to fall behind. Hence why I’m looking at some research data to see if I can make any sense of it for you.

Again I’m talking about autism, a topic I covered in the last blog [insert link] because I’m starting to see more and more of it daily. I also think probiotics are cutting edge stuff yet still cloaked in mystique.

INTRO

Good bacteria live inside us. There they perform things like digest the carbohydrates (sugars) we eat, manufacture vitamins, help absorb nutrients, boost our immune system and the list goes on. Because they live in our gut, scientists believe they are involved with common symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and stomach aches. To be precise, scientists think that when there’s an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria…it can cause said problems. Their Question is: Do probiotics help kids with autism-specifically their gut problems?

BACKGROUND

When two events happen at the same time and a definite link can be found…it’s called a causation. When there is a possibility (but unconfirmed) of a link…its called a correlation. Scientists think there’s an correlation between autism and their gut problems. i.e. 40% of autistic kids have gut problems. Fix the gut fix the autism? Not so fast!

What problems?

..feeding abnormalities, gastroesophageal reflux, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fecal incontinence, constipation, and alternating diarrhea and constipation.

HYPOTHESIS

Theories abound for why autistic kids have more gut issues. One of these is inflammation. When you sprain your ankle, it starts to swell with blood; it hurts to touch-let alone walk on; and it looks pinkish-red. This is inflammation and it can happen on a smaller scale inside your gut. Scientists can measure things like cytokines and special sugars and enzymes to say Yes there’s something going on. Unfortunately the evidence isn’t clear cut. One group says one thing and another the opposite.

Another theory is that autistic kids have guts that are just more sensitive to stimuli such as various foods in our diet. Their symptoms resemble those of adults who have IBS. So maybe it’s just IBS that our kids have and the gut problems have no link to autism?

THE DATA

So if probiotics can perform wonderful things, why not just stick them in the gut? There’s a 1000 species of bacteria in our gut and in total their numbers are in the trillions. We just don’t know what does what and where (stomach, small intestines, large intestines, etc). Scientists think that it’s not so much the bacteria but the by-products bacteria produce. Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) are such a by-product which is supposed to affect our brain chemicals (neurotransmitters e.g. dopamine) as well as behaviour and moods.

Here are some examples:

Bifidobacterium bifidum – may help prevent leaky gut aka unwanted toxins getting absorbed… (tested in animals)

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) – may help reduce ADHD and Aspergers syndrome in the newborn. (tested in humans)

Lactobacillus reuteri – may help with behaviour issues (tested in animals)

 

CONCLUSION

All that said…scientists are still dumbfounded as to whether probiotics can definitely help [human] kids or not. First it’s an ethical question…if you knew your child was sick and needed treatment..would you sign them up to a clinical study where they might only get placebo tablets vs the real thing? I know I wouldn’t. So evidence is lacking. Our knowledge therefore is also lacking. Making informed decisions therefore is guesswork at best.

BLOGGER’S TAKE

So what’s a parent to do? Considering that most probiotics on the market are generally safe, my take on it is that you can trial and error your child on different brands for say 1-2 months, keep a bowel motion diary (many on iPhone/Android App stores) and stay in touch with your doctor. Exceptions to this advice would be and not limited to: those with weak immune systems e.g. HIV-AIDS, auto-immune conditions like lupus, organ transplant patients, patients with large sections of their gut removed through surgery, and/or patients with heart issues.