Just about every parent on the planet has spent nights trying to ease a child's ear or throat infection. In fact, ear infections are responsible for more sick child visits to pediatricians then any other illness.
Pediatrician Dr. Marvin Gans joined Balance Television host Dr. Marla Shapiro to help clear up some of the misconceptions people have about ear and throat infections.
"When you're alone at night and your kid is screaming, it's really difficult," Gans said. "The most important thing for most parents to remember is, you don't need to run to the emergency department in the middle of the night with your child with an ear ache - you need to give them pain relief. The thing that's making them scream is the pain."
For pain relief, Gans recommends ibuprofen or something with codeine if you happen to have it in the house. The infection part can be treated the next day.
Most ear infections are bacterial, Gans said. There are new recommendations for children over the age of 2, he explained.
"If they had a sore ear last night, and they come to your office today and you look in the ear and it is a little bit red but not terrible, and they're not having a lot of pain, the best thing is to not treat them if you can," he said. "What I tend to do is give mothers a prescription for some antibiotics, tell them not to fill the prescription, put in their pocket, and as long as little Johnny is getting better, don't treat it."
The child is re-examined in 10 days. To the surprise of doctors and everyone else, the vast majority of those children get better without therapy.
If they start to scream or suffer pain, the parent has the prescription and can go ahead and get it filled and treat the child.
For children with recurrent ear infections, after 3-5 infections, pediatricians will likely use ventilating tubes. This remedy must be determined on a per-case basis. Taken into consideration is the time of year.
"As we approach the spring and the summer, we know that the likelihood is children will get better, the number of infections will decrease and they'll be fine," Gans said. "If they had one infection in September and they settle down and they're fine for a couple of months and they have another in January, then another in March or April and their ears have cleared in between, that's not a big issue."
On the other hand, if they have three bouts of infection in a short interval and the ears aren't clearing up in between, Gans said that's when you have to look at doing more, especially in the fall. Congestion from teething or a cold can increase a child's risk of getting an ear infection.
Swimming does not cause ear infections, Gans said. It's a myth.
The vast majority of throat infections -- approximately 80 per cent -- are viral. The rest are strep. Strep is the only treatable throat infection, for which penicillin is prescribed.
The gold standard for diagnosing throat infections are throat cultures. Doctors get the cultures back in 24 hours. Gans said there's no harm in waiting that time and deciding on a proper course of treatment, thus potentially minimizing antibiotic use.
We polled family doctors from across the country, and they laid down the law on eight things they wish we'd do—or stop doing.
According to our panel of general practitioners, Canadians aren't always doing what they should to make the most of doctor visits—and skipping out on these crucial tactics could lead to a delay in diagnosing serious conditions. Here's what our experts say you should add to your patient checklist.
1. Stop feeling shy
Many of us hesitate to talk to our physicians about sensitive issues (think substance abuse or sexual health—or even gender identity). But honesty and openness are important, both for fostering a good doctor-patient relationship and for ensuring that you get the best care, says Dr. Laura Pripstein, medical director of the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto and a staff physician on the family health team. That's why it's OK to try out a doc before committing. Dr. Pripstein recommends booking an initial visit to see if your potential doctor is a good fit. "You want to see if this person seems like someone you can talk to, someone you feel comfortable with," she says. And if you don't think your doctor understands or respects your concerns, don't be afraid to find someone new. "If you feel you can't ask questions that might be embarrassing, you don't have the right provider," says Dr. Pripstein.
2. Don't come to your appointments unprepared
Get the most out of your time—and your doc's—by arriving at your appointment with a clear plan for what you want to discuss, says Dr. David Ross, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "It's good to have patients think about their problems from when the issue began, then look at it chronologically to the present," says Dr. Ross. Making a prioritized point-form list in advance helps ensure that you don't forget anything or mix up the order of events, he says. Then, work with your doctor to address the most serious issues first.
3. Choose your family doc over the walk-in clinic whenever you can
Yes, a clinic is convenient, but what we gain in easy access, we lose in familiarity. "I think it's really valuable if people can connect with a family physician who they'll be able to see long term, rather than just looking for the quickest way to access care," says Dr. Maurianne Reade, a physician with the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team in Mindemoya and M'Chigeeng First Nation, Ont. A family doctor will know your medical history and will keep it in mind when suggesting treatment—so, for example, if you've recently taken several courses of antibiotics for a UTI, your physician will likely look for a different course of action if you come in with another infection. According to the most recent statistics, about 4.5 million Canadians don't have a regular family doctor. If that's you, contact your provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, or check to see if your region has an online registry (Ontario has Health Care Connect, while Quebec launched a web-based family doctor finder last year). "It's important to know that we doctors are privileged to share in your stories and to help you through difficult times," says Dr. Reade.
4. Share what's happening in your life
There's a reason your doctor wants to know where you're working, if you're dating and how the kids are—and it's not just because she likes you. (Though she does, we're sure.) Physicians need a picture of their patients' lives beyond their specific health symptoms and conditions, especially when they're first getting to know you, says Dr. Stephen Wetmore, the family medicine chair at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in London, Ont. "Doctors need to know these things to understand how your lifestyle and habits may be influencing your health," he says. So when you're talking about your exercise habits, your health history and whether you smoke, drink or use drugs, mention your employment status, family obligations and intimate relationships, too, says Dr. Wetmore.
5. Be a better googler
Doctors know you do it (hello, late-night web searches), but they would prefer you to ask about good sources of information, rather than going rogue online. They also want you to be honest about your fears if you've read something particularly upsetting. Physicians can't address your concerns or point you in the right direction if they don't know what your fingertips have been up to. "The thing we want our patients to do is ask us for the most reliable Canadian websites to go to as resources," says Dr. Heather Waters, an assistant professor of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton.
6. Don't think your symptoms are "no big deal"
If you've noticed you are having more headaches than usual or are sleeping more or are eating less, you might not think to tell your doctor—but you should. There's no set of rules for determining which symptoms are worthy of investigation or discussion, says Dr. Wetmore, but make a note to mention anything that is new or has changed since your last appointment. "You should bring up things like sudden weight loss or fatigue that seems excessive," he says. "It could be a sign of a larger problem, or the cause of a developing problem." Evenif it doesn't end up being serious, seeing your doctor will help ease any anxiety you might be feeling, and that's worth the visit, too.
7. Talk about what you're taking
Tell your physician about any herbal medications and alternative treatments you take, says Dr. Mel Borins, a University of Toronto associate professor and author of A Doctor's Guide to Alternative Medicine: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why. It's important for patients to share what's working for them and for doctors to be open-minded about therapies outside their own practice or traditions, he says. This is also a concern when it comes to conventional meds, especially if you're pregnant; there are only 23 medications specifically approved for use during pregnancy— yes, out of every available drug—which can leave women feeling anxious about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs when they're expecting, says Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Bridgewater, N.S. But don't stop taking your meds as soon as your pregnancy test comes back positive. "It's really important to talk to your doctor instead of stopping cold turkey," says Dr. MacQuarrie. Physicians can help you determine the risks and benefits of using different drugs, and they can let you know when the effects of not taking a medication while pregnant may be worse than taking it— which is the case with some antidepressants.
8. Avoid diagnosing yourself
You know doctors don't like it when you come in prepared with a diagnosis you've made thanks to the aforementioned Dr. Google. But do you know why? It's not because they think you're encroaching on their territory! Rather, they worry that a serious medical problem might get missed or you'll cause yourself unnecessary anxiety over something not serious. That's because not everyone has the most common symptoms of a particular condition. Plus, men, women and different ethnicities can have varying symptoms for the same problem. For instance, Dr. Reade's community has a large proportion of people with diabetes, which can affect the warning signs of cardiac disease, a major killer in Canada. Instead of the usual pain or pressure on the left side of the chest or arm, men and women with diabetes may instead have spells of profuse sweating with weakness. And, of course, women who don't have diabetes can have differing symptoms, too; sometimes, a heart attack can feel like acid reflux or come with sudden nausea, vomiting and lightheadedness. So always tell your physician if your symptoms are surprising or strange—like a headache that feels different than usual, for example. And if you're worried about a specific diagnosis, be sure to bring that up, too.
While every Canadian faces his or her own unique set of health hurdles, there are a number of ailments that have become pervasive in Canada. Though medicine has advanced over the years, our modern lifestyles have introduced a new set of health challenges. Here are some of the top health problems that Canadians face today.
From cold showers to the best must-have products, here's our best fashion and beauty advice.
The most fashionable people know how to mix old and new. Anyone can swipe plastic at a department store, but it takes a strong sense of style—and creativity—to score a treasure at a vintage or thrift shop. Try this approach to building an outfit: Pick one key vintage piece (when shopping, look for intricate beadwork, embroidery and luxurious materials) and pair it with newer items in your closet. That rare vintage find will get you tons of compliments, trust me!
Hot showers may feel great, but they're a real bummer for your skin and hair. They strip away skin's natural defences against dryness and irritants and can weaken hair and make it susceptible to breakage. Lukewarm water, on the other hand, leaves skin hydrated, while cool water helps to close the hair cuticle so tresses look shiny.
"When I have to be fast, I skip traditional eyeshadow and use a shadow stick instead. It blends seamlessly, looks flawless and there isn't any powder fallout... A lifesaver!" - Jodi Urichuk, hair and makeup artist
If you've ever fallen in love with an almost-perfect item of clothing, you know the value or a good tailor—a hemmed pant leg or nipped-in waist can upgrade an entire outfit. But some fixes are easier than others: It's best to buy a coat or blazer that fits properly at the shoulders and then hem the sleeves if necessary. Even with a good tailor, taking in a shoulder seam can be risky.
Tip to toe
Not sure how to ground an outfit? Take a modern approach to pairing and juxtapose styles. If you want to show off your bare legs with a hem that hits midthigh or higher, go for a chunky heel. If the base of your outfit has an obvious masculine look (wide-legged trouser, cargo pant or cuffed jean), opt for a dainty heel.
Tools of the trade
1. Teardrop-shaped sponge
Use it to blend foundation, cream blush or highlighter by lightly bouncing the sponge across skin—the pros call this technique stippling.
Breathe new life into this wardrobe staple with a bit of style inspiration.
There's a reason why we love the white button-down. Whether it's oversized, fitted, short sleeve, cropped, silk or cotton, it's always a chic—but unfussy—way to embrace classic style. But, like even the most stylish women, we sometimes get stuck in a fashion rut. Which is why we pulled together some great white button-down shirt looks from some seriously stylish women. Discover new and fresh ways to wear a white button-down below.
There's nothing chicer than a casual white button-down shirt under a blazer. Keep the look modern with boyfriend jeans and patent brogues—extra points for embracing metallic.
You can make this borrowed-from-the-boys piece feminine in an old school way by pairing it with a pleated midi skirt and sharp kitten heels.
If you're worried about a white on white look, just remember to play with texture. The silk shirt paired with crisp denim and leather shoes makes this look a winner.
Embrace the menswear vibe of this piece by pairing it with a classic black blazer and trousers—though we might recommend ditching the tie to avoid any waiter confusion.
Keep this piece cozy by topping it with an oversized knit. We especially love the addition of a statement piece of jewellery.
Pair your button-down with tailored separated for the office. A pencil skirt (in a fun print or colour) plus chic heels is a no-brainer when it comes to professional dressing.
This look is for the bold. Pair statement pants and shoes with a white button-down and a classic blazer. Think of this as business on top and party on the bottom.
Put a little prep in your step with trousers, loafers and fun socks. For the extra preppy, add a fisherman knit and drape it over your shoulders. Very refined gentleman, no?
Wrapper, mac, gabardine, slicker—a trench coat by any other name is still a wardrobe classic.
The sartorial legacy of Breakfast at Tiffany's is, of course, that little black dress. The sight of Holly Golightly, munching on a pastry while admiring the jewels from the street, is iconic. But it's not the best fashion moment of the film. Instead, think of the final scene: Audrey Hepburn drenched in the rain, sharing a passionate kiss with Geroge Peppard, wearing a trench coat knotted at the waist. The trench, you see, if not typically the tool of romance, which tends to lean in the direction of soft, romantic ensembles.
Prior to its Hollywood boom, the trench coat was largely a man's garment. In fact, the coat got its start in the early 19th century as waterproof outerwear for military and civilian use—though when the First World War began, it became primarily associated with British military officers. Burberry, the brand synonymous with the classic wardrobe staple, is often credited with the trench coat's invention, though it likely shares that honour with Aquascutum, as both companies outfitted soldiers.
Postwar, the trench permeated Hollywood. Leading men such as Humphery Bogart (remember his goodbye scene with Isla in Casablanca?), Peter Sellers (in The Pink Panther) and Robert Redford (in The Way We Were) all counted the topper as part of their uniform, and the item began to be linked with a more worldly, quiet man, instead of the soldier. The trench's masculinity is often associate with detectives—intelligent but brooding solitary men who give off mysterious vibes.
It didn't take long for women to co-opt the trench for their personal style statements, thanks in large part to many ladies embracing a more masculine and casual wardrobe in the mid-'60s. This decade was its turning point for casual dressing, which saw a major shift toward unisex styles. Hepburn was hardly the first woman to make the garment her own; Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren all donned the topper, in A Foreign Affair, Babette Goes to War and The Key, respectively. But it's that scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's that's the defining trench moment for women. Strong, proud Holly Golightly found love, and it wasn't her LBD that did the trick; it was the trench—practical, genderless, classic.