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Pediatrics

What is pediatrics?

Pediatrics (spelled paediatrics in the U.K.) is the name for the branch of medicine that deals with the health of children from birth to adolescence. There are many major physiological differences between the bodies of children and those of adults. Size is the most obvious difference, but there are vast disparities below the surface, including chemical levels and the function of certain organs.

Common Pediatric Issues

Pediatricians are equipped to deal with all child health issues, but there are a few pediatric issues that occur more frequently than others. Here's a quick rundown of some of the most common concerns parents have about the health of their children:

  • Pediatric asthma. A disease that causes constriction in the body's airways, asthma is common in children. Smoke, dust, allergens, viruses and even heightened emotions can trigger an attack. If your child is having difficulty breathing, immediately seek emergency medical care.
  • Pediatric constipation. Mild constipation is common in children. The usual cause is dehydration. Other contributing factors can include a lack of fiber in the child's diet or a diet high in foods known to cause constipation, such as cheese and bananas. If your child complains of painful bowel movements, discuss treatment options with your pediatrician. Changes in diet are often enough to alleviate symptoms, but your child may require a stool softener as a dietary supplement.
  • Pediatric head injury. It's perfectly normal for youngsters to bump their heads from time to time. Usually, it's nothing to worry about. However, if your child appears confused following a blow to the head, complains of a bad headache or vomits repeatedly, you should take your child to the emergency room. Undiagnosed concussions can lead to permanent brain damage.
  • Pediatric diabetes. At one time, it was thought that children were only at risk of developing Type 1 diabetes (previously called juvenile diabetes), but we now know that children can develop Type 2 diabetes as well. As obesity rates rise, more children are at risk than ever before. If your child loses or gains weight quickly, drinks or eats a lot, urinates a lot or complains of always being tired, he or she may be suffering from diabetes. Ask your pediatrician if he or she recommends a blood test.

Disclaimer

If you've found this article, there's a good chance it's because you were online searching for information about one of several common pediatric health concerns. Remember that information on the Internet (such as this article) is great at providing you with basic facts, but it can never replace the expertise of a trained physician. If your child is displaying symptoms that concern you, don't hesitate to call your pediatrician to ask a question or to book an appointment.

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