Your frequent questions answered by the experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital

I know hand washing is supposed to be the best deterrent for catching colds, but how do you get preschoolers to wash their hands correctly? Is there anything else I can do with vitamins or diet to help ward off colds?

Regular hand washing is a practical way to prevent many upper respiratory infections, and preschoolers are great at hand washing when they have a routine.
Washing hands prior to meals and snacks and after bathroom visits is a great habit to develop.Show them through example and have fun scrubbing together.Sing a song while washing to make it enjoyable and give them 15 to 20 secondsto get their hands squeaky clean.
Also make sure the faucet is easy to reach and turn on with soap available, so the job clear and easy, and something that they can accomplish with pride.
In addition to hand washing, keep your child healthy with proper nutrition, adequate sleep, outdoor play and lots of love and affection.They are well designed to fight off minor illnesses. So, focus on keeping kids well overall and letting their bodies' immune systems do what exactly they were designed to do.

Dr. Wendy K. Anderson is a member of the Section of Ambulatory Pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital. She practicesat Close toHome Clinics and her focus is on teens.

My son plays football, and every time I see him get tackled, I'm worried that he'll suffer from a concussion. How can I tell if he's had a concussion and how are they treated?

A concussion happens when a child's head or face is impacted, or if a child's head changes directions abruptly. Most concussions do not result in loss of consciousness.

Early symptoms include headache, confusion, dizziness, appearing dazed, poor balance, inappropriate behavior or just not seeming to be "quite all there." Later symptoms include sensitivity to light and sound, fatigue, inability to concentrate or focus, memory problems, agitation and depression.

After a suspected concussion, the child should be removed from the event, be prohibited from returning that day and seek medical attention promptly. The brain needs dedicated rest and energy to heal itself.

There is an uncommon, tragic phenomenon called second-impact syndrome where the brain will swell instantly after a "second impact." This has only been described in young athletes, and the fatality rate is estimated at 50 percent. So remember: "When in doubt, sit them out!"

The child should also be followed by a physician trained in concussion management. One of the tools used at Nationwide Children's Hospital Sports Medicine to follow the brain's recovery is computerized neurocognitive testing. Neurocognitive testing allows us to monitor and document the brain's return to normal function.

A child should never be released back to activity after their symptoms resolve without first completing a specific protocol to safely and gradually progress them back to play.

Dr. Thomas L. Pommering is the Medical Director of The Nationwide Children's Hospital Sports Medicine Program and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. He heads a team of Sports Medicine Specialists who see young athletes in their sports concussion clinic every day of the week.

One of my son's classmates has cystic fibrosis and sometimes has to miss school when he gets ill. How can I help my son understand his friend's disease better?

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary condition which causes a change in normal cellular salt and water movement.

Children with CF have problems primarily with their respiratory tract and digestive system, and with clearing their secretions, or mucus, normally. This can cause chronic infection, requiring the child to cough or use other methods to remove the mucus from his or her body.

It's important to note that the germs that cause CF are not harmful to people without CF (they are, however, potentially dangerous to others with CF). In fact, coughing is normal and encouraged.

Explain these facts to your son, so he can understand what his friend is going through. Ask that he be kind and supportive of his friend, especially when he needs to cough.

Over time, these infections may progress and cause lung damage, which can shorten life. However, in recent years, there have been dramatic advances in CF treatments, and the length and quality of life has improved. There are even medications which can normalize the basic defect in cellular water and salt movement. With advances like these, children with CF can potentially be cured.


TIP OF THE MONTH
Staying Healthy for the Holidays

You can stay healthy despite the busy holiday schedule. Here are a few tips to boost your body's defenses:
Protect yourself - get a flu shot (pictured) and wash your hands a lot. This year, the flu vaccine includes the H1N1 vaccine. The Center for Disease Control recommends children 6 months of age and older receive the vaccination each year. Children under 2 years old should get the shot. Children 2 years and older without chronic medical problems can receive the flu mist. Eat healthy. Make it a priority to eat five or more fruits and vegetables a day. Chill out. If you feel stressed about the holidays, stop what you're doing and take five deep breaths. Get some Z's. Eight and a half to nine hours of sleep a night (10 to 11 hours for kids between 5 and 12) can strengthen your immune system, making you less vulnerable to stress. Remember, the holidays only come once a year. Get out, have fun and forget about the tough stuff for a while.

Watch Pediatric HealthSource at 5 p.m. Thursdays on 10TV News HD. To learn more about Nationwide Children's Hospital, visit www.NationwideChildrens.org