Nosebleeds are common in children for the following reasons:
- frequent colds
- nose picking (and other injuries to the nose)
- dry air (especially in the wintertime)
The reason these situations lead to nosebleeds is because they all irritate the lining of the nasal septum (this is the name of the cartilage that separates your nostrils).
The best way to prevent nosebleeds is to deal with the underlying condition. In addition, it helps to moisturize the lining of the nasal septum by rubbing a thin coating of petroleum jelly along the septum. (Some of my ear, nose, and throat colleagues prefer saline gel products that can be purchased without a prescription.) Most kids prefer to do this themselves because they do not want anyone “messing with” their nose. If your child falls into this category, show her how to do this by demonstrating the technique on yourself: the product can be applied with a cotton swab or with an index finger after your child washes his hands. Apply the lubricant once or twice a day as needed to keep the problem under control. If your child continues to get nosebleeds, discuss the situation with your doctor.
Most people do not know the proper way to stop nosebleeds. The methods I hear about most often include putting a cold compress on the bridge of the nose, leaning forward, or having the child tilt his head back so his nose is pointing up in the air. The reason such remedies abound is because people do not realize that 95% of the time, the bleeding is coming from the nasal septum (this is the name of the cartilage that separates your nostrils).
The best way to stop bleeding is to put direct pressure on the area that is injured. Therefore, the way to stop a nosebleed is to pinch someone’s nostrils with medium pressure for five minutes without peeking. Once the bleeding stops, ask your child to refrain from picking or blowing his nose because that would dislodge the clot and the bleeding could start again.
If your child’s nose continues to bleed after five minutes of constant pressure, repeat the pinching procedure for ten minutes. If that does not work, call your doctor.
Up until a few years ago, poison control numbers were regional and people had to call 411 to get the local poison control number if they needed help when they were out of town. Because this made the system inefficient, the poison control network now has a national number: 1-800-222-1222. This means that regardless of where you are in the country, if you call this number, you will automatically be connected to the closest poison control facility. Not only does this number belong on every phone in your house, but you should also program it into your cell phone. The reason for this extra precaution is that children sometime ingest poisons while they are outside of the home, and you may not be thinking clearly in this situation.
Most parents know that certain symptoms that can be associated with serious medical conditions. The most common ones are as follows:
- stiff neck may mean meningitis
- abdominal pain may mean appendicitis
- bad cough may mean pneumonia
Testicular torsion is a rare condition that most parents have never heard of. However, as with the problems noted above, it is important to get urgent medical attention for the condition. Although testicular torsion can occur at any age, it is most common in 12- to 18-year-olds.
In order to prevent the testicles from twisting, they are anatomically anchored within the scrotum. Sometimes, this anchoring is in the wrong place, which allows the testicle to twist 360 degrees. If this happens, the artery that supplies blood to the testicle will twist thereby cutting off its blood supply. Shortly after this occurs, a child will experience pain and swelling because the testicle is being deprived of oxygen. Although this is not a life-threatening condition, the testicle itself may die if the problem is not diagnosed and treated within eight to ten hours.
Although doctors know about the importance of diagnosing and treating testicular torsion as soon as possible, lay people don’t. In addition, since adolescents may be reluctant to discuss genital symptoms with their parents, further delays can occur before the diagnosis is made. You can remedy this situation by asking your doctor to discuss the problem at your next checkup. If a teenager knows that testicular pain is an emergency, he will hopefully be more proactive reporting the problem to his parents.