Trains, Planes and Automobiles – With Kids!


Whether you’re spending a vacation day at local attractions or touring for weeks across the world, you’re going to have to travel to get to your summer destinations. When your child experiences motion sickness, it can ruin your whole excursion. 

Alzein Pediatric Associates is here to help you avoid and treat motion sickness to keep your family happy and healthy, no matter where you’re going this summer. 

Motion sickness is a common malady for kids ages 2 to 12. It happens when the brain gets confusing signals from the inner ears, the eyes and the nerves in the feet and hands. For instance, if a child is positioned in any vehicle – a car, bus, plane, ship or train – where he can’t see the outside, his inner ear can sense the motion, but his eyes and extremities can’t. All three senses must send the same signals of movement to the brain to avoid motion sickness.  Motion sickness is characterized by an upset stomach that could lead to vomiting, a cold sweat, paleness and fatigue. 

First, take steps to avoid motion sickness in the first place. If it’s a short trip, keep your child’s stomach empty. For longer trips, give your child a very light meal or snacks of bland food like saltine crackers – nothing greasy, rich or spicy. Avoid fast food. 

Prohibit your children from watching movies, playing with smartphones or tablets, reading, drawing or coloring while traveling. Keep your child’s attention outside the vehicle far in the distance through the front window, not the side. Play games such as The Alphabet Game, finding letters in order on billboards, the memory game I Took A Trip or Twenty Questions, which is easily adaptable for kids of all ages. Start a story with “Once upon a time”, letting each traveler add to the plot, line by line. Visit your local library for children’s books on CD. 

If at all possible, start your travel right before nap time or bed time, so children sleep during travel. 

Make sure your child tells you as soon as he feels sick, so you can do all you can to make symptoms tolerable.
• If possible, stop the vehicle and let your child walk around. Continue to take frequent breaks as you travel.
• Wrap ice in a clean cloth and place it on his forehead with eyes closed.
• If possible, open windows for fresh, cool air.
Help your child take slow, deep breaths to ease nausea.
• Bring along a cloth moistened with mint or ginger essential oil, placed in a plastic ziplock bag. Let your child breathe in that aroma.
Have your child sip ginger ale.
Apply light firm pressure to the inside of the wrist, or be ready with an acupressure wrist band. 

If your child has experienced motion sickness before that does not respond to these conservative treatment methods, talk to your Alzein medical professional. We may recommend ginger extract or guide you through administering over-the-counter Dramamine in children older than two. In severe cases and in cases of very long trips, we may prescribe Zofran to ease symptoms. 

It’s best to be prepared when traveling, even if your child had an iron stomach on your last trip. While most children outgrow motion sickness by the age of 12, a variety of factors including the intensity of motion and the level of stress or excitement can make symptoms appear unexpectedly. 

When you have questions about staying healthy while traveling, we are here to help. Call your Alzein Pediatric Associates medical professional at 708-424-7600 today.

Put down that aspirin!

Round white pills and plastic pill bottleWinter brings a raft of viral infections to homes, schools, daycares, churches and other gathering places. Your Alzein Pediatric Associates medical professionals know that these colds, flus and other illnesses make your family miserable, and that you’d like to use over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve fevers, muscle pain, upset stomaches and more.

While there are, of course, a variety of safe, effective medicines, we here at Alzein remind you to never give your child aspirin or any OTC drugs containing aspirin, unless specifically prescribed by your physician.

The use of aspirin in treating viral illnesses in children under the age of 20 has been strongly linked to the potentially fatal Reye syndrome. Reye syndrome causes swelling in the liver and brain, permanent damaging and disabling your child. Without treatment, Reye syndrome is fatal within days.

Do not give your child any medications that lists as an ingredient:

  • Aspirin
  • Acetyl salicylate
  • Salicylic acid
  • Salicylate
  • Subsalicylate

Read labels carefully, as OTC medicines such as Pepto-Bismal, Kaopectate and Alka-Seltzer and their generic equivalents contain aspirin. 

Rarely, Reye syndrome can develop in children who have a metabolic condition, or who may have been exposed to toxins such as paint thinner, weed killing chemicals and insect killing chemicals.

You’ll notice Reye syndrome developing after your child has started a cold, the flu, or other illnesses, anywhere from a day or two to two weeks. Watch for:

• Diarrhea

• Rapid breathing

In children younger than two

• Frequent and persistent vomiting

• Aggressive, violent or irrational behavior

• Confusion, hallucinations, slurred speech

• Seizures or convulsions

• Fatigue and overall sleepiness

In children over two

Early diagnosis and treatment will save your child’s life. If you suspect your child has Reye Syndrome, or that someone has given your child aspirin or a product containing aspirin to treat a recent illness, call our office or go to the Emergency Room immediately. 

Medical professionals will order diagnostic tools that may include blood and urine tests, a spinal tap, biopsy of the liver or skin, a CT scan or MRI. Your child will remain in the hospital for treatment, receiving fluids and medications to increase urination, decrease swelling and prevent bleeding. Your child may receive machine assisted breathing help if needed.

Prevent Reye syndrome by stressing to all your children’s caregivers that, to a child under 20, aspirin can be deadly. Give only acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). Keep aspirin and aspirin related products well out of the reach of your children.

If you have any questions about Reye syndrome, or about prescription medications containing aspirin that your child may be currently taking, call our office at 708-424-7600. We are always happy to answer your questions, keeping your family in optimal health and safety.

Heart Murmurs In Children

Alzein heart murmur

During every visit to Alzein Pediatric Associates, be it a regular check-up or an appointment for an illness, we listen to our young patient’s heart. We’ll listen in a variety of spots across the chest and back for that familiar “lub dub” that indicates a healthy heart. In growing children, we’ll often hear an extra sound, which is known as a heart murmur.

For many parents, hearing that their child has a heart murmur can be upsetting, as they imagine a drastic lifestyle change or managing a chronic condition. Knowing the truth about murmurs can calm fears and clear up confusion.

In fact, many children have a heart murmur at some point of their lives. As blood flows normally from atrium to ventricle to atrium to ventricle in a young, healthy heart, there may be sounds beyond that “lub dub.” These “innocent” or “functional” heart murmurs may come and go throughout childhood, depending upon your child’s position while being examined, any fevers, or heart rate. These murmurs pose no health threat and will disappear as your child grows. Innocent heart murmurs do not require medication, special diets or activity limitations.

Heart murmurs can be, occasionally, symptoms of more serious heart issues such as valve abnormalities, heart muscle disorders and congenital heart defects. Septal defect, a hole in the heart’s septum, may close on its own but does require regular monitoring. Symptoms of serious illnesses include, in infants, rapid breathing, difficulty feeding, failure to thrive and cyanosis or blueness in the lips. Older children may experience chest pains, unusual fatigue, and difficulty when doing physical activities.

When there is any indication that a murmur is more than innocent or other symptoms are present, Alzein Pediatric Associates’ pediatric cardiologist Dr. Nida Yousef will perform a thorough examination and a pain-free, non-invasive echocardiogram to ensure a complete diagnosis.

Heart murmurs, for many children, can be an ordinary part of growing up. If you have any concerns about your child’s heart health or overall wellness, call us at 708-424-7600. We will be happy to answer your questions.