Tag Archives: swimming

Swimming, A Basic Life Skill All Children Should Know (Archived Pedcast)

Swimming lessons are a crucial for every child’s safety–drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children. As parents, you can help protect your children and lower the number of needless drownings by teaching them water safety skills. In this pedcast, Doc Smo emphasizes the importance of child swim lessons and gives parents some practical advice about teaching their children to swim.

Continue reading

The Truly Amazing Story of Ian (Article)

 

 

With the permission of him and his family, I am going to tell you what happened to a patient of mine named Ian. Three years ago on a hot summer day, Ian went to the pool with his brother to go swimming.  They played games, competing and challenging each other physically like brothers do.  During a game of “How far can you go underwater?,” Ian’s brother noticed that Ian stayed underwater too long . Tragically, an 18-year-old lifeguard and an adult neighbor dragged Ian out of the water blue, lifeless and almost dead.  Ian’s life was now in the hands of  others, his  neighbor and a teenage lifeguard.  How quickly life can change!

Unfortunately, all of the pool water that Ian inhaled severely damaged his lungs; doctors just didn’t know whether the damage extended to his brain.  He spent weeks in the pediatric ICU with all the advanced respiratory support the doctors could muster. The most extreme measures were used to keep Ian going.  Things didn’t look good; the medical staff told Ian’s parents that he had just a fifty percent chance of surviving.  While the family prepared for the worst, however, Ian fought back.

A month after entering the hospital, a frail and exhausted Ian went home with fairly good lungs and, fortunately, a great brain and spirit.  His recovery was truly miraculous, a testament to his wonderful medical care, his religious faith, and his remarkably strong strength of character.

Knowing Ian’s story, I was thrilled when his mother called me recently to tell me that Ian has a summer job.  Not only has he managed to make a complete medical recovery against very steep odds, strengthen his bonds with his family, return to school and earn good grades, but now he has a summer job as, of all things, a LIFEGUARD!  Talk about giving back, this guy is AMAZING!  When I spoke to him recently, he told me that he hasn’t saved anyone yet, but he is ready to return the life saving favor to anyone who needs him. I know he will.

 

If you have comments, log onto my pediatric blog at www.docsmo.com.  Take a few minutes to explore the literally hundreds of articles and posts on the site.  Until next time.

 

Written by Paul Smolen MD

 

 

 

 

 

From the Desk of Doc Smo- Children and the Risk of Drowning (article)

As any of my patients will tell you, I am big on swim lessons for children. I think it is terrible if a child reaches adult life and doesn’t know how to swim well enough to be safe around water.  Because of my enthusiasm for formal swim lessons for children, I read with interest an article that I saw in the February edition of Pediatrics, the journal from the Academy of Pediatrics. The authors studied the rate of hospital admission for near drowning in the US for the past 16 years. They found that during this period of time, there has been a dramatic 49% decline in hospitalizations for children who almost drowned. This must mean that children in the past 16 years have become better equipped to stay safe around water, probably because more children have access to formal swimming lessons. Great news for children.

 

I am heartened to see this improvement, but I won’t be happy until the decline is 100%. There are so many things in life over which we have no control, but prevention of drowning in children is probably not one of them. I can’t tell you how many instances I have been the physician of record during near drowning events. It is a horrible experience for everyone involved, but especially for the family of the child.

 

Here is what you can do to make sure your family doesn’t endure such pain. Make sure you maintain extremely close supervision over very young children around bathtubs, ponds, and pools, and enroll them in formal swimming lessons beginning at 4-5 years of age and not stopping the lessons until your child is a strong swimmer. By “strong swimmer,” I mean they should be able to swim long distances in deep water and know the Dos and Don’ts around water. You can also reinforce the rules about never swimming alone, never diving in water where you don’t know where the bottom is, using approved flotation devices when boating or swimming in open water, and swimming with great caution in open water, especially where there might be currents that are dangerous.

 

If you are one of those parents who thinks you can teach your children to be safe swimmers on your own, think again. I believe every child deserves formal swimming lessons taught by someone who is trained to do so. If you are one of those parents who does not know how to swim yourself, make especially sure you don’t let your own fear of water get in the way of your child learning to swim. Not only are non-swimmers at great risk around water, but they are also missing out on one of life’s truly fun activities.

From the desk of Doc Smo: Swimmer’s Ear Prevention 101 (Article)

If you have ever had it, you know Swimmer’s Ear hurts like crazy. However, most people have no idea what Swimmer’s Ear is and what causes it. Well, lets fix that right now. To understand the cause, we need to start by gaining an understanding of the architecture of the ear and how it is different than other places in the body. The ear canal is a dark tunnel lined with skin that is often very damp, especially in warmer weather. Water frequently gets in but gets trapped by the shape of the ear canal. Well, what happens to water anywhere it sits around without movement, especially when it’s at body temperature? You know it, yuk grows in it! This is especially true in your ear canal when you are in and out of water all day. Once the water enables fungus and bacteria to grow in the ear canal, it is easy to see how these microbes can infect the surrounding skin. Swelling occurs to the point that the ear canal can literally be shut, making things much worse. Oh man, that can hurt!
All of this leads to a tender ear, aching down the side of the neck, and a very miserable child. The children most prone to having bouts of Swimmer’s Ear are: those with eczema (lots of cracks in their skin), those who frequently use Q-tips, those who are in and out of water frequently (especially lake or ocean water), and those who go to bed with wet hair (yes, your mother was right on that one).

Once an outer ear infection gets started, it can be very difficult to control; prevention is the only game in town. Here is a simple way to prevent Swimmer’s Ear in your child, especially as they go off to camp and swim in lakes and rivers. First, buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol and pour half of it out. Fill the bottle back up with either white vinegar or apple vinegar. If you can get a bottle with a dropper on it, great. At the end of EVERY summer day, when no more water is going to get into your child’s ear (usually bedtime), put a few drops of the alcohol/vinegar mixture in their ears and rub it around. Dry the excess with a towel. The combination of the alcohol and acidic vinegar make a very hostile place for germs, and they simply don’t grow. Without the bacteria and fungus in abundance, the cracks don’t get infected. Make sure their hair is dry, and put those little puppies to bed. If you are religious about this, most children won’t be suffering from Swimmer’s Ear this summer. Miss a day or two and all bets are off. If they go to camp, figure out how to make this happen there. It is worth the effort.