Migraines can distract kids from school work and socialization

When most people consider migraines, they tend to think of them as an adult problem. However, up to 10 percent of children experience migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. The first episode often strikes by the time the child is 12 years old, however, the foundation reported that they may occur much sooner – even infants may experience migraines.

Migraine isn't just a term for a bad headache, it is actually a neurological disease that results in a host of symptoms apart from head pain, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, abdominal pain, mood changes and sensitivity to touch, sound, light and odors. It is a potentially serious condition that can distract children from performing well in school and may even cause them to become socially withdrawn. Pharmacy Times reported that children who experience migraines typically have twice the absentee rate as children who do not.

The stages of a migraine
Migraines consist of four separate and distinct stages, however, not all people who experience them will experience every stage, according to Pharmacy Times. The stages are prodrome, optical migraine, attack phase and postdrome.

Prodrome: In this stage, which occurs a day or so before the migraine begins, people may experience subtle symptoms that warn them of the approaching migraine. These symptoms include constipation, depression, food cravings, hyperactivity, irritability, neck stiffness and the uncontrollable urge to yawn.

Optical migraine: This stage, sometimes referred to as the aura stage, can occur immediately before or during a migraine and include visual symptoms such as blurred vision, flashing lights and zig zag lines or trails. Approximately two-thirds of migraine patients report experiencing this stage, which may last anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour.

Attack phase: This is the main stage of a migraine experienced by all migraine patients. It includes extreme head pain, often accompanied by a number of various side effects. The most common include feelings of dizziness and fatigue, and many patients have reported fainting during this time.

Postdrome: The last phase of a migraine is physical fatigue that varies in extremity and can often feel debilitating. Many patients report this feeling lasting up to a day or two after the migraine has faded.

The relationship between migraines and gender in children
While migraines may occur in any child at any point, there does seem to be a relationship between gender and incidences of migraine.

Boys tend to experience more migraines than girls before puberty, with the average onset at 7 years old. For girls, instances of migraine tend to increase after puberty, with an average onset age of 11.

By age 17, approximately 23 percent of girls and just 8 percent of boys report having experienced migraines. Medical scientists associate the increased rate of migraine in post-pubescent girls with an increase in estrogen levels.

For both boys and girls, those who report migraines during adolescence are 60 percent more likely to experience them after the age of 30. Once again, female patients are more likely to be affected.

Parents of children who are affected by migraines should seek the help of a medical professional for treatment options. While the cause of the condition isn't known, there are treatments that may help to relieve symptoms. FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that can help children take their medicine. Ask your pharmacist how you can get your child's prescription in his or her favorite flavor.

Help your child through difficult medical situations

Undergoing medical procedures is never fun, and for kids this is doubly the case. Surgeries, no matter how minor, can be intimidating to children and can prove to be a major disruption in their normal routine. If you're looking for a way to ease your child's distress and make regular visits to the hospital or doctor's office a little less scary, try some of these unique ideas.

Play music during difficult procedures or waiting periods
Music can provide a good distraction from a procedure that's taking place, and can help both you and your child relax while sitting in a sterile waiting room. Research from the Alberta Research Center for Health Evidence indicated that there is a science behind this theory, according to The Washington Post.

In a study where music was played for children while their doctors administered IVs, it was noticed that while all kids exhibited distress at the introduction of the IV, those who were listening to music had an easier time of it. Further, researchers noticed that the type of music actually contributed the amount of distress shown by the children. When soothing pieces were played, children were not sufficiently distracted. However, when more boisterous, unpredictable pieces were played, children were likely to show less distress. The takeaway? Play Holst, not Hayden.

Teach your child to meditate
While meditation has been proven to have real and positive effects on both the mind and body, not many parents think of it as a beneficial activity for kids. However, meditation can have the same soothing results on children.

Michael De La Hunt, M.D., chief of child and adolescent psychiatry for Wolfson Children's Hospital and Nemours Children's Clinic, advocated this exercise for helping children get through times of great stress. "[Meditation] is a way to encourage them to unplug, slow down, and center themselves," De La Hunt told WJCT News.

To help your child practice meditation, provide him with a quiet environment where he feels safe unwinding and letting go. Coach him through the first few sessions by playing some quiet, soothing music and giving him voice prompts to help him relax, such as, "Imagine yourself in a beautiful place," and, "Clear your mind of anything that's causing you stress." Eventually, your child will be able to lead his or her own meditation sessions, and you may even find he is eager to do so.

Make it a ritual
Children find routines comforting. When they know exactly what to expect, they're able to feel more in control of a situation and are not as likely to experience heightened distress, which in turn makes them less likely to act out in front of doctors or other medical professionals.

Children are also able to adapt to rituals fairly quickly. If your child is required to make regular visits to the hospital or doctor's office, create a ritual for him or her to help them keep her emotions under control. It could be something as simple as getting a milkshake together beforehand, or as elaborate as picking out his or her favorite outfit to wear the day of the appointment. Rewards for good behavior can also be effective. If your child gets through the entire appointment without incident, you can treat her to an ice cream cone or even cook her favorite meal.

Medical appointments aren't easy for most children, but by doing what you can to ease the situation, both you and your child can get through them more smoothly. Help make the doctor's office less scary using these ideas or some of your own. If your child is required to take medication, make that time a little more pleasant by giving it to them in their favorite flavor. FLAVORx provides medicinal flavorings that can make taking medicine less of an ordeal. Ask your pharmacist about FLAVORx flavors for your child.

How to prevent cold and flu viruses from entering your home this season

The fall weather is approaching, meaning winter isn't too far behind. As the seasons start to turn and the quality of the air changes, many individuals – and children especially – find they are more prone to illnesses such as the cold or flu. This year, the Farmer's Almanac reported we're in for a bitterly cold winter, which also means children and parents alike may be more susceptible to these conditions.

Neither the common cold nor influenza is actually caused by cold weather, however, exposure to the viruses does increase when the air outdoors is chilly. One reason is that the viruses are airborne, and most people spend these times indoors, resulting in more people circulating the same, potentially exposed air. Secondly, the cold acts as a sort of air filter, meaning that people go from breathing crisp, clean air outdoors to stale, recycled air once they step inside. Also, most people are more likely to get within close range of a person who is already infected with the virus when everyone is cloistered together indoors.

Many treatments are available for these conditions, but doctors agree that the best way to overcome these illnesses and avoid any negative effects is to prevent the viruses from taking hold in the first place.

3 steps to prevent the cold and flu
This year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended parents take three specific steps to protect their families from the cold and flu.

1. Get vaccinated:  The first, of course, is making sure every member of your family who is 6 months or older gets the flu shot. The flu shot protects against the most common strains of the flu virus each year. The source stated that pregnant women, young children and the elderly are most likely to contract influenza, as are people with conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart or lung disease. While it's recommended that every individual be vaccinated, these groups may need it more than most.

2. Take your medicine: The CDC recommended that those who do come into contact with the virus take whatever antiviral drugs their doctor prescribes. While some individuals may scorn prescription drugs, especially if the case seems too mild, the fact is that they help reduce the spread of the virus and can save other people as well as the individual a lot of suffering.

3. Limit exposure: Make every effort to stop the everyday spread of germs at home, in the workplace and in the classroom. Teach your children to limit their close-contact interactions with others while at play, and to wash their hands with soap and water at regular intervals. People should always take care to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and to use tissues as needed to contain mucus. Finally, keep surfaces clean with disinfecting soap.

Use your diet to fight seasonal illness
The best way to conquer cold and flu season is to strengthen your immunity. There are a number of immunity-boosting foods you can incorporate into family meals in order to stave off these viruses and keep your family in fighting-strong condition during the cold season:

  • citrus fruits
  • dark, leafy vegetables
  • garlic
  • orange juice
  • probiotics (like those in some yogurts).

Regular exercise can also help boost immunity. Make sure the whole family is getting enough exercise in order to help them ward off seasonal illnesses this year. If cold or flu does strike, however, remember the CDC's recommendation: Take the medication your doctor prescribes. FLAVORx makes a number of medical flavorings that can be mixed with cold and flu medicines to ensure it goes down a little easier. You'll feel better and stop the virus from spreading.

5 tips to keep your child healthy at school

It's difficult for parents to ensure that their kids are making healthy choices when they're not around, and kids spend a significant portion of their days at school, away from Mom and Dad's watchful eye. While school administrators play their part by ensuring that children don't partake in unsafe horseplay and other behaviors, it's mostly up to the kids themselves to make sure they're making healthy choices that protect their bodies from illnesses and conditions caused by poor lifestyle choices.

Here are several tips to pass on to your kids so they can make healthier choices even when you're not around.

1. Washing hands is important: Make sure kids understand the importance of proper hand-washing techniques – including when exactly they need to lather up. Most kids know to wash up after using the restroom facilities, but may not realize that it's also important after participating in group activities where shared equipment is used, such as cooking projects or art class. Teaching them to wash their hands after these events can reduce their risk of contracting a cold, the flu and other illnesses – and prevent them from bringing it home.

2. Eating healthy foods makes you feel better: Many kids, when left to their own devices, would choose to chow down on junk food all day long. It's fast, convenient and, to a child's palate, delicious. However, sugar-loaded foods will actually sap energy from your child after that initial spike, and leave him feeling hungrier throughout the day. Your best bet is to send him to school with a healthy packed lunch rather than cash, which will inevitably be spent on fatty, greasy foods like pizza and french fries. If that's not a possibility, however, make sure your child understands that, while these foods are all right once in a while, he should be opting for fruit-and-veggie based foods on a more regular basis.

3. Using tissues helps to contain germs: With cold and flu season swinging into full gear, it's important your kids know how to safely interact with other children – and this should include using tissues whenever a child coughs or sneezes. Additionally, teaching children to cough or sneeze into their elbows rather than their palms can keep hands free from germs, making them less likely to spread.

4. Exercising each day boosts immunity: Kids today don't get enough exercise, which is one reason why more American children are being diagnosed as obese. Apart from keeping weight down, however, regular exercise has a host of other benefits – including elevating mood and strengthening the immune system. Kids who exercise regularly will be healthier overall – and will be better able to focus their energy in other places, such as their schoolwork.

5. Participating in extracurricular activities helps build social skills: While it may seem obvious, participating in after-school activities can help children learn basic social skills and make new friends, which will in turn make them happier. It's important that your child chooses an activity he or she enjoys in order to reap the full benefit – but having an activity separate from both the classroom and the home can facilitate his or her development.

Teach your children these simple lessons in order to equip them with the best decision-making tools. Kids who understand how to make good choices even when Mom or Dad isn't around will be healthier and happier. In the event your child does get sick, however, FLAVORx can provide medicine flavorings to help make taking their medicine more pleasant.

Soothe your child’s fall allergies this season

Fall is peak season for allergies, and kids and parents alike can suffer from this annoying condition. Allergies affect different people in different ways, and may cause eye itching, redness and a case of the sniffles, and even external symptoms such as hives. In general, allergies also just make kids feel miserable, which can make it harder for them to concentrate on important things such as their schoolwork.

How to determine if your child is experiencing seasonal allergies
Allergies can be particularly difficult to detect in children, as their bodies – and therefore their allergies – are still developing. Whereas allergies may not have been an issue last season, this season you may start to see symptoms develop. Knowing what to look for can help you catch symptoms early so that you can provide treatment.

In some cases, allergy symptoms can mimic a mild case of the common cold. Excess coughing, sneezing and excess mucus could be the cold virus – or it could be the initial stages of allergies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If they last more than a week or two, it may make sense to see a pediatrician. Other symptoms of seasonal allergies include watery, itchy eyes, runny nose, sniffling and unusual mucus buildup.

Symptoms such as rashes, hives or swelling in the body may be indicative of an environmental or food allergy rather than seasonal allergies. More severe symptoms include gagging, chest tightness and restricted airways. These instances are potentially serious and should be checked out by a doctor, as they may also be associated with asthma.

If you suspect your child may have an allergy, whether it be seasonal or triggered by a specific substance, make an appointment with your pediatrician. He or she will give your child a battery of allergy tests to try and identify what the reaction may be caused by.

Tips for soothing side effects of allergies
If your little one suffers from seasonal allergies, here are a few steps you can take to ease the symptoms and help them get on with their day.

  • Learn what the triggers are and limit exposure: Common fall triggers include specific pollens from different grasses, trees and weeds. An example of a common allergen is ragweed. If you notice that a certain plant is causing your child distress, search your neighborhood to find out where it's located. If possible, remove the plant. If this isn't possible, teach your child how to recognize the plant that's causing the symptoms so that he or she can make an effort to avoid it. Other common allergens include dust, mold and pet dander. Make sure your home is free of these things in order to create a safe home environment.
  • Use a home air purifier: If you can't protect your child from the hazards found outdoors, you can at least create an allergy-free zone indoors. Consider purchasing a home air purifier in order to keep the quality of air in your home safe for an allergy-prone child. HEPA-type filters are best for this purpose.
  • Provide antihistamines during peak season: In some cases, allergy symptoms are more of an annoyance rather than a serious condition. At other times, however, symptoms can interfere with everyday life. If your child's symptoms become so severe that he or she has difficulty concentrating on a task, antihistamine medication may be a solution. It's best not to rely on this medicine too often, however, so that your child doesn't build up a tolerance.

Treating severe allergies
If you've taken every step to limit your child's exposure and soothe symptoms, but still find allergies to be a problem, it's time to get medical help. In addition to determining what your child's triggers are, a pediatrician can help by prescribing stronger medications to keep the condition under control. These may include prescription-strength antihistamines, corticosteroids or even immunotherapy treatments. While taking medication is never fun, medicine flavorings like those made by FLAVORx can help children get the doses they need to stay healthy. Ask your pharmacist about how you can get your child's favorite flavor to make medicine time more bearable.

Help your family avoid the September spike in head lice this year

September often sees a surge in head lice cases that coincides with the back-to-school season. These little pests, the adult variety of which measures approximately 2-3 millimeters long, are more of an annoyance than a serious medical issue, but they can be difficult and time-consuming to remove.

While many assume head lice to be a sign of poor hygiene, the American Associate of Pediatrics indicated that this is not truly the case. According to a revised clinical report published in late July, these beasties are not hazardous and do not spread disease. The report went on to note that no child should miss class time or be excluded from other activities because of the condition. The organization recommended that schools should drop their no-nit policies this year.

How to prevent head lice
Head lice are transferred through person-to-person contact and only affect humans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dogs, cats and other pets are not susceptible to head lice.

The AAP suggested that the best way to prevent the spread of lice is to be proactive. Parents should check their children's heads for lice before sending them to events such as sleepovers, summer camp and other areas where children share sleeping space. Sporting events where participants come in bodily contact are also areas that make children vulnerable to these pests.

Because lice are only spread through personal contact and not personal hygiene, increasing the amount of showers and hair washing is not an effective means of preventing lice.

Preferred treatments for head lice
If parents do encounter head lice on their children, they should seek treatment from their local pharmacy immediately, as many over-the-counter treatments are available. Parents should do their research and speak with their pharmacist to determine the safest effective product, as not all lice products have been proven non-toxic, and many are suspected to be toxic.

According to the AAP, the recommended medication for lice is 1 percent permethrin lotion. A second treatment should be applied seven to 10 days after the initial treatment in order to kill any remaining eggs or nits. If the problem persists, parents should consult their pharmacist. Oral treatments and other options are available.

Taking medicine properly can reduce hospital visits for kids

Children who suffer from asthma are currently entering emergency rooms more frequently than they need to be, according to a new Reuter's Health report. The reason? They aren't taking their medicine.

The source goes on to state that over 50 percent of children with a chronic illness are put on some type of medication, but "past studies have found anywhere from 50 percent to 88 percent" of them aren't taking it as prescribed.

A new review lead by Meghan McGrady of the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center looked at nine different asthma studies that identified a link between inconsistent medication practices and increased hospital visits. A tenth study suggested that children who suffer from type 1 diabetes experience the same circumstances.

The study used electronic monitors, family interviews and pharmacy fill records to track medication usage. Unsurprisingly, McGrady and her team found that children whose families did not fill their prescriptions were more like to require an emergency trip to the ER. In one study, families who did not fill their childrens' prescriptions were found to visit the emergency room 10 times more than those who did fill the prescription, even if it was only 1-2 times per year.

With fall asthma and allergy season coming, children and parents need to be on their guard and ensure that they have their medication prepared. Common triggers for the fall season include allergies, changes in temperature, fall leaves, and smoke from campfires, leaf fires or even indoor wood stoves, according to the American Lung Association.

Parents should also ask their doctors for written Asthma Action Plans that they can give to the school, so that the teachers and administrators can follow it in case of an emergency. Above all, children should know their individual triggers as well as their early warning signals so that they can ask for help when they need it.

FLAVORx has been helping children take their medicine for nearly two decades by providing fun flavors that make medicine taste better. Our formulas are sugar-free and non-allergenic, and are available in a variety of kid-friendly flavors. Ask your pharmacist how to make medicine time easier with FLAVORx.

Back-to-school preparations should include the flu shot this year, doctors say

Back-to-school season is officially here, and parents are jumping for joy at the thought of once again packing their kids onto the big yellow bus and sending them off to school. However, back to school means your kids will once again be mingling with the masses, and potentially bringing another concern home with them: influenza.

Back-to-school season frequently kicks off the flu season, and with your child coming into contact with so many other children on a daily basis, the chance of their picking it up and spreading it around the home is much greater. That's why this year, doctors are recommending flu shots be a part of your back-to-school routine, according to CBS News.

However, even a vaccine won't guarantee your house will stay flu-free this year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) reported that during the 2012-2013 flu season, the available vaccine was only 56 percent effective in warding off influenza.

The 2013-2013 season was particularly harsh for flu victims, who had to fight off two separate strains of influenza that year. The first strain, flu A, hit the hardest–only 53 percent of those vaccinated were able to stay flu-free. The second strain, flu B, wasn't quite so aggressive, with only 33 percent of vaccinated individuals reporting cases of influenza. All told, 44 percent of those inoculated still had to visit their doctor's office for flu-related reasons, according to the CDC.

The flu is no fun for anyone, but children are among the most susceptible to the illness. It's important that parents take every possible precaution in helping their child prevent influenza from occurring. Make sure your child is stocked with antibacterial soap to use in public places such as restrooms or the classroom. Teach him to use proper hygiene, such as hand-washing and covering his mouth while coughing or sneezing. Always ensure that your child is dressed appropriately for the weather outside, and consider sending him to school with a spare sweatshirt or scarf in case he's ever caught without. Finally, if your child is exhibiting cold- or flu-like symptoms, keep him home so he doesn't spread it to other children.

If your child does contract the influenza virus, visit your pediatrician and make sure he or she has access to the medicine needed. No one likes to take their medicine, but it's better than suffering through the flu without it. Flavored treatments like those offered by FLAVORx can help make the medicine go down a little easier, so that you can all get through the flu season together. Talk to your pharmacist about FLAVORx options available for your child.

School means socializing and sharing … germs

School is back in session and kids will be back socializing, sharing and, in some cases, spreading their germs. It is almost unavoidable – someone will get sick and it will spread with a sneeze or a sniffle or because he or she touched a railing or one of the other vast number of items kids use throughout the day. At least during the summer, parents can plan for their young ones being out of school. But for working parents, a child suddenly falling ill during the school year can be harder to manage, especially if he or she does not show any signs until it is time to catch the bus. 

To prevent this and maintain their children's health and wellness, families should try to instill a sense of good habits and hygiene into their kids, particularly during chilly autumn and winter months. 

One major habit parents should foster in their children is to stay clean. Many educational institutions offer hand sanitizer stations, which can help kill all the germs kids pick up throughout the school day. From desks to doorknobs, students' hands touch numerous objects that may not be hygienic. Washing their hands too many times can also be unhealthy, but parents who encourage them to do so before they eat and after recess or other physical activities can reduce the chance they get sick. 

Vaccinations are another important measure, and the more kids that are vaccinated, the safer that all of them will be, since sickness will have fewer avenues into a school. 

Children should also be reminded not to share combs, hats or other personal items. Parents who give their kids an extra comb on picture day may be thankful for the stress it saves them from later. 

When all else fails
Of course, sometimes sickness cannot be helped. When that happens, parents should strive to get their kids healthy as soon as possible. Some children may enjoy time off from school, but no one wants to be bedridden, and parents do not want to see their kids in pain. The Light and Champion recently suggested that parents should take their children to a doctor for an evaluation if they appear to be sick. Finding the cause of the illness will let families know the best course of action to speed up the kids' recovery. Making medicine taste better through options like FlavorX can also encourage them to happily accept their treatment rather than try and avoid it. 

Parents should vaccinate children against the flu now, not later

Summer has not yet passed, but it is swiftly fading as Sept. 21 approaches. This means preparing kids for school, a change of clothes and, for many people living in colder climes, flu season. It is not quite here yet, which is why it is important for adults to vaccinate themselves now, and their children in particular.

Now that school is here, kids will be interacting with many more people than they have in months, at a time when the chance of infection is the greatest for some illnesses. NBC News recently recommended that it is better that everyone get vaccinated sooner rather than later to ensure children's health and wellness. As relatively harmless as the flu may seem, it can potentially be fatal. The news provider reported that the illness hospitalizes about 200,000 people per year, and is fatal for up to 49,000 individuals annually. 

"Influenza virus is unpredictable, and what's most important is that people receive the vaccine soon, so that they will be protected when the virus begins circulating," Henry Bernstein, M.D., of the Hofstra North Shore – Long Island Jewish Health System, told NBC News. 

Parents should not delay flu shots in the hope of something better
Citing experts such as Bernstein, NBC News pointed out that parents should not delay vaccination in the hope of giving their kids a specific treatment. While the influenza virus has multiple strains, a complete lack of resistance will put children more at risk than at least some protection. The source noted the fact that 160 children died from the flu last year. As such, a shot is better now than later, and the more people who are vaccinated against the illness, the less of a chance it will have to spread. 

Convincing children to get a shot can be difficult. Parents can choose to use a nasal-spray flu vaccine, although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended not using it for children under 5 years of age with breathing problems, or for anyone younger than 2 and older than 50. For any other kids, though, options are a good way to give them a sense of empowerment while providing them with important protection against illness. The same is true with other medications, where choice may create the sense that they are deciding what is best for themselves. Multiple flavored treatments, of a kind that FLAVORx produces, can offer this, and making medicine taste better also encourages kids to take it.