The Kid's Doctor

By Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Sure, coughs and colds are nasty, but antibiotics are not the answer

The prescribing of antibiotics is highest for young children. But, antibiotics need to be used appropriately in order to ensure that they're effective, as well as to prevent antibiotic resistance. The whole country is just entering the "cough and cold season" and most of these illnesses are caused by viruses. Antibiotics can only cure bacterial - not viral - illnesses.

Taking an antibiotic for a viral illness will NOT cure a child's cough and cold, nor will it help the child feel better any faster. It also will NOT keep others from catching a child's viral illness. These maladies include colds, influenza (flu), RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), most sore throats (unless strep) and most sinus infections. Not all ear infections may need an antibiotic to resolve, especially in children over the age of 2 to 3 years.

Although many people "believe" that green mucus indicates a bacterial infection, as the body's immune system works to fight off a viral upper respiratory infection, mucus can change color. It's quite common for the color to change from clear to yellow to green before the viral infection resolves. This doesn't mean that the patient - whether a child or an adult - needs an antibiotic.

Lastly, while antibiotics may be life-saving, there are potential complications, including tummy aches, diarrhea and serious allergic reactions. You want to only take antibiotics when they're really needed.

For more tips on how to help when your child has a viral illness, check out this CDC site:

( Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show. Submit questions at

Dee Woods: Connection between Rx drugs and mass murder?

By Dee Woods

It's something rarely discussed, yet it's out there for all of us to discover. What is the real reason behind shootings at workplaces and schools?

It's easier to make this a political issue than it is to address what may be the shocking truth that prescription pharmaceuticals may be a contributing factor in many of these incidents.

I recently saw the math regarding drugs and reports of violence associated with those drugs. Admitting the possibility that prescription drugs, illicit drugs or even violent movies might play a role doesn't help people's political agendas - so there are few such reports.

Thanks to Dr. Julian Whitaker, the figures are right there. In his February newsletter, Whitaker points to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Adverse Events Reporting System's figures. Between 2004 and 2011, there were 12,755 reports of psychiatric medications related to violence. The statistics show there were 359 homicides, 2,795 episodes of mania and 7,250 incidences of aggression; and let's not forget the 9,310 suicides.

If you think those figures are large, get this tidbit- the FDA acknowledges that fewer than 10 percent of adverse reactions are actually reported to the FDA. So, multiply those figures by 10! This is a list of incidents related only to prescription drugs.

Whitaker writes about a "litany of murder and mayhem" as he relates individual cases where it is certain that both children and adults were on pharmaceuticals at the time they committed murders. He lists case after case compiled by The Citizens Commission on Human Rights that clearly shows the nexus between psychotropic prescription drugs and violence. Even in the case of Columbine there was prescription drug usage by at least one of the young mass murderers.

Science Daily began the warning in 2008, exposing the fact that "American children are about three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children in Europe." Science Daily also reported that "a team of researchers from the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands investigated prescription levels in the three countries. Antidepressant and stimulant use was three or more times greater in the U.S. than in the Netherlands and Germany, while antipsychotic prevalence was 1.5 to 2.2 times greater."

One thing certain: drugs that may help adults can do just the opposite when used by children, teenagers and young adults.

Dr. Joseph Mercola writes: "So widely accepted is the practice of drugging our children that state-mandated, forced medication has become a growing trend. In one case, without the presence of a single doctor, a court decided to put a 6-year-old child with mild autism on five powerful antipsychotic drugs, even though none of the drugs had been approved by the FDA for use in children, and despite the mother's adamant wishes not to do so.

"Believe it or not, your child can actually be 'diagnosed' with mental health 'maladies' such as mathematics disorder, caffeine disorder, malingering, telephone scatialogia, and disorder of written expression. And if they can be diagnosed, you can bet that they can also be given a drug to 'fix' the problem."

This is not to say that some children don't absolutely require medication, but why are youths in the United States three times more likely to be prescribed medications than children in Europe?

There are many variables involved in violent crime, but prescription drug use appears to play a role. Attempting to turn this mental health issue into a gun issue for political gain is unconscionable. Don't look to the politicians or BigPharma, research on your own.

Dee Woods is available to give presentations about alternative health treatments and healthy living. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Wine Guy: Fruits of the Earth are forgotten remedies

Best of The Wine Guy

The Wine Guy
with Anthony Scarano

For the first 5,000 years of civilization humans relied on foods and herbs for medicine. In the past 50 years we have forgotten all of this in favor of patent medicines and pharmaceuticals.

We must remember the well documented, nontoxic and inexpensive healing properties of food such as: honey, which has antibacterial properties and is a mild sleep aid, sedative and tranquilizer; and kale, a rich source of anticancer chemicals with more beta carotene than spinach, twice as much lutein as any vegetable and can help regulate estrogen levels and fight off colon cancer.

Oats can lower cholesterol levels by 10 percent or more and stabilize blood-sugar levels. Oats also have estrogenic and antioxidant properties, and contain psychoactive compounds that can help combat nicotine cravings and depression. High doses of oats can cause gas and abdominal bloating and pain in some people.

Olive oil also lowers "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins, or LDL) without lowering "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins, or HDL). It protects arteries from plaque buildup, reduces blood pressure, regulates blood sugar and contains potent antioxidants. Olive oil is the best oil to use in salads and for cooking.

Onions (including chives, shallots, scallions and leeks) were thought by the ancient Mesopotamians to cure virtually everything. They contain exceptionally strong antioxidants and are full of numerous anticancer agents (onions block cancer dramatically in animals). The onion is the richest source of quercetin, a potent antioxidant in shallots and yellow and white onions that is linked to inhibiting stomach cancer. Eating onions can help thin the blood, lower LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol (preferred dose is half a raw onion per day), ward off blood cots, and fight asthma, chronic bronchitis and hay fever.

Onions are also essential in the diets of diabetics and can help defend the body against arteriosclerosis and infections. They have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties, and are believed to have diverse anticancer powers. On the down side, onions can aggravate heart burn and may promote gas.

In recent years, dozens of studies from all over the world have associated moderate consumption of alcohol with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, decreased mortality rates and improved health conditions. This worldwide research has resulted in certain changes in how people think of alcohol.

Richard Doll, a British medical doctor and scientist, wrote in the British Medical Journal, "The consumption of a small amount of alcohol reduces mortality from vascular disease by about onethird."

A glass or two of wine with your meals can give you so many health benefits - so many that there is not enough space here to tell you about them all. I wish good health to all you wine drinkers.

Anthony Scarano is not a doctor. He is an 88-year-old Evergreen Park resident, winemaker and certified naturopath. Suggestions in this space are solely the opinions of Mr. Scarano based on years of independent study and personal experience, and may not be beneficial to health. Wine should be consumed in moderation, as overindulgence may be harmful to health.

Mayo Clinic

Steps can be taken to make wrinkles less noticeable

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I'm a 42-year-old woman, and lately I've noticed more wrinkles starting to show on my face. Ads for "amazing" anti-wrinkle potions are everywhere. Is there anything that will really work to lessen the wrinkles I have and prevent new ones from appearing?

ANSWER: Wrinkles are a normal part of aging. Although you can't eliminate wrinkles completely, you can take steps to make them less noticeable.

Two big risk factors for developing wrinkles are aging and ultraviolet light. You cannot control the aging process, but you can reduce your exposure to ultraviolent light. The best thing you can do for your skin is to habitually use sunscreen on all exposed body parts. On days you're not out in the sun for long periods, use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30. When you spend time outdoors on a sunny day, use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50.

Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing wrinkles, in addition to being bad for your health in many other dangerous ways. Smoking has by-products that break down the collagen and elastin that help support the tissue in your skin. That can speed up the aging process and make your skin more wrinkled. If you are worried about how your skin looks and you smoke, you should stop.

Another key step to reducing wrinkles is to keep your skin well moisturized. Dry skin creates wrinkles. Use a high-quality moisturizer on your skin twice a day, once in the morning and once at night before you go to bed.

Picking a good moisturizer can be challenging because there are so many choices. Keep it simple. Avoid lotions that contain perfume, dye or glitter, or that have a lot of preservatives, as these can irritate your skin. A higher price is not always a sign of higher quality. Most basic ingredients in moisturizing lotions are the same across brands. If you're buying a moisturizer for your face, get a product designed for that purpose. A body moisturizer usually will not work well on facial skin. Finally, buy one that has SPF included, so you don't have to apply sunscreen in addition to your moisturizer.

Anti-wrinkle creams that are available without a prescription usually have only a modest effect on wrinkles. If you try one, make sure it contains vitamins C and E. These ingredients may help reduce wrinkles somewhat, but they depend on one another to work. If a cream has only one, it won't be as effective.

If you want an anti-wrinkle cream that has been shown to reduce wrinkles and prevent new ones, you will need to see your doctor. Prescription anti-wrinkle creams derived from vitamin A, called retinoids, can reduce fine wrinkles, splotchy pigmentation and skin roughness. In addition to creams and lotions, some procedures may help reduce wrinkles. They include chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, botulinum toxin type A (Botox) and soft tissue fillers. None is a permanent solution for wrinkles, and all have potential side effects. If you're interested in one of these procedures, talk to your primary care doctor or a dermatologist to discuss what is right for you.

Keep in mind that the three most important things all people - old and young, men and women - can do for their skin to decrease the signs of aging are to moisturize frequently, wear sunscreen and, please, don't smoke. - Dawn Davis, M.D., Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

( Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn't replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or write: Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic, c/o TMS, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y., 14207.)

The Kid's Doctor

By Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Wheezing and respiratory distress call for quick action

What's that hissing sound? Plenty of wheezing and coughing have ushered in the cold and flu season, and with all that noise, I'm on the lookout for respiratory distress. As I see more and more sick kids, my office is filled with a cacophony of coughing. While many of the coughs sound horrible, fortunately most patients don't have serious problems. Those who do need help fast.

I'll spend a lot of time this season talking to parents about the symptoms of respiratory distress. As with many aspects of effective parenting, observation is key. Watching your child's breathing when they're coughing or wheezing is the most important thing you can do. Recognizing genuine respiratory "distress" or "shortness of breath" means you need to know what to watch for.

A little girl, my first patient of the morning, had a history of wheezing episodes, and did have a nebulizer and medications at home. She'd been well all summer and her mother hadn't thought about wheezing, but noted that her daughter had started to cough over the previous weekend. Her condition then worsened and the child coughed all night, prompting an early appointment the next morning.

When I walked into the room, I knew immediately that the girl was in respiratory distress. Not only was she coughing (which every other patient seemed to be doing), but she was also retracting or "pulling"; while still happy and playing, you could tell she was "working" to breathe. Her tummy was moving in and out, and her ribs were doing the same. Gladly, she was still well-oxygenated and pink.

The mother had not looked at her daughter's chest and had forgotten about the nebulizer (out of sight out of mind), since she hadn't used it for 6 months and wasn't "clued" in yet to the new cough and cold season.

After a quick review, she remembered what we'd discussed the previous winter and realized she should have pulled out the nebulizer at the first sign of trouble. Repetition helps you remember the "home wheezing action plan."

Any time your child is coughing - whether the youngster is 2 days or 20 years old - observe their skin color (pink, not blue) and look at their chest. Check to see if they're using their ribs or tummy to breathe. The sound of the cough is not as important as LOOKING at the chest. Whether it's daytime or the middle of the night, take off their shirts and look.

Any sign that the child is struggling to breathe should direct you to call and visit your pediatrician or a hospital emergency room. Coughs are usually OK, but never respiratory distress.

( Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show. Submit questions at