Archive for the 'Health & Wellness' Category

Every body deserves a massage

back massage

What do you think of when you think “massage”? A luxury during vacation? A day at the spa? Training for athletes? Received during physical therapy after an injury?

Did you know the whole family can use massage? From infants to parents, massage has many benefits to help the entire family.

Massage is a holistic modality that can be adjusted for all family members. Adjustments can include duration, pressure, positioning or focus. Research supports massage for health and wellness, as well as an evidence-based procedure for many health conditions.


Infant massage can be performed by a licensed massage therapist or by the parents. It is recommended to create a routine and massage your baby several times a week at the same time (e.g., after bath, before bedtime, etc.). Some benefits your baby may receive include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Weight gain in premature births
  • A strong parent-baby bonding
  • Improved motor-development


Toddlers to pre-teens can benefit from massage for wellness or to help treat a specific condition. Often these sessions, like infant massage, are shortened to 15 to 20 minutes to start, and increase to 30 minutes. Benefits can include:

  • A better mood
  • Helping children relax
  • Learning about safe touch
  • Improved mind clarity


Teenagers can benefit from a wide range of benefits from massage. Whether your teenager is preparing for an exam, starting to play organized sports, or simply coping with being a teenager, massage is a great choice. Your teen may receive benefits like:

  • A decrease in headaches
  • Reduced stress from school, peers and test anxiety
  • An improved positive body image
  • Prevention of athletic injuries and an increased range of motion


We don’t want to forget about mom and dad. Whether a parent is looking to reduce stress or treat a health condition massage may be the answer.

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved sleep
  • Treatment for headaches and migraines, reducing the number of headaches and/or the severity
  • Increased range of motion
  • Decreased muscle pain

Choosing the right type

Don’t think of massage as just a “splurge” while on vacation. Massage can be a part of your family’s wellness routine or can address many conditions like headaches, fibromyalgia, oncology and arthritis. Which type of massage is right for you?

  • Clinical massage – from relaxation to area or condition specific
  • Cranial sacral therapy – a light-touch therapy that helps the body return to balance
  • Hot stone massage – heated stones to relieve stress in many layers of the body
  • Hydrotherapy – warm and cool towels used in improve circulation of blood and lymph
  • Indian head massage – an ancient technique uses massage and energy balancing along with warm oil
  • Lymphatic wellness treatment – helps renew energy and promotes a healthy immune system
  • Massage cupping – negative pressure to help reduce scar tissue and adhesions
  • Neuromuscular therapy – decrease trigger points to improve function and decrease muscle pain
  • Oncology massage – can reduce the many side effects of the treatment of cancer

Making an appointment

Beaumont Integrative Medicine offers clinical massage in Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak, Troy and West Bloomfield. Call 248-964-9200 and mention this article to receive $10 off your next massage appointment. This offer expires December 31, 2018. For more information visit us online.

Karen Armstrong, LMT, BCTMB is the manager of Clinical Massage at Beaumont Health, which includes four outpatient clinics covering three campuses.  She also manages Beaumont’s nationally recognized oncology and hospital massage program.

Sunscreens and sun safety

face with sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen

Life doesn’t settle down much in the summertime with kids. Already my children went to the beach, played soccer, climbed trees, played at the playground, rode bikes and more. They are bathing in their newfound freedom! They are also bathing in the sun’s rays for much of the day. How do we keep our kids and ourselves safe while having fun in the sun?

Sunscreen may be the first thing to come to mind, but sunscreen alone is not enough. According to warnings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we should plan outings and activities before or after the hottest hours of the day (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and broad-rimmed hats.

However, our schedules don’t always allow us to stay out of the sun at midday and it’s hot! Kids (and adults) won’t always want to wear long sleeves. Therefore, the CDC also reminds us to seek shade under a tree or use an umbrella. And always protect your eyes with sunglasses, preferably wrap-around sunglasses, that block both UVA and UVB rays.

Protective clothing and shade are especially important for infants under 6 months of age, who should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin. Yet most sunscreen products also warn against use on children younger than 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concedes, “When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) on infants under 6 months to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands.” The AAP reminds us that sunscreen takes 30 minutes to be effective and to apply cool compresses if an infant gets sunburned.

We learned as children that we can get sunburned quickly while in the water because of the water’s reflective surface. We should also be extra diligent near sand and concrete (and snow), which can also reflect sunlight and intensify exposure.

Now for the sunscreen. For optimal coverage, apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going out, then reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or even sweating. “There’s no such thing as waterproof sunscreen,” according to the Food and Drug Administration. “All sunscreens eventually wash off.” Look for reapplication instructions on products labeled “water resistant.”

Take your time reading sunscreen labels. Not all products protect equally and some may contain ingredients that are harmful to you and the environment. For help on reading sunscreen labels, we can look to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG examines sunscreen products and the latest research each year. Here are more tips for what to look for (and avoid) based on their recommendations:

  1. Broad spectrum. Experts agree we need to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
  2. Choose SPF 15 to 50+. The effectiveness of sunscreens tapers off at 50. SPF numbers higher than that can give a false sense of protection and keep you out in the sun too long.
  3. No Vitamin A. Also called retinyl palmitate or retinol. While Vitamin A is important in our diet, it’s not good on our skin. Government data shows “tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with creams laced with vitamin A,” according to EWG.
  4. Avoid oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are harmful to human health and the environment. Studies show these chemicals are synthetic estrogens that can disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system. In the water, they destroy coral reefs. Hawai’i just became the first state to pass legislation banning the sale of sunscreen products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in an effort protect coral reefs from bleaching. “An estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen is believed to be deposited in oceans annually with the greatest damage found in popular reef areas in Hawaii and the Caribbean…,” according the New York Times.
  5. Look for zinc oxide or 3 percent avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. They protect skin from harmful UVA radiation. Visit EWG’s Sunscreen database for more information on specific products. EWG’s Best Scoring Kids’ Sunscreens and EWG’s Best Beach & Sport Sunscreens.
  6. No insect repellent. If you need bug repellent, buy it separately and apply it first.
  7. Don’t spray. Sprays cloud the air with tiny particles that may not be safe to breathe.

Now hopefully I can catch my kids before they run out the door.

– Melissa Cooper Sargent is Beaumont Parenting Program blog contributor with a background in green living.

Making baby’s first haircut a good experience

baby's first haircut

Cropped image. Sean Freese, Flickr. CC license.

Preparation is key!

Start by introducing the idea of what getting a haircut is all about before taking your child to the salon. Let your little one watch you have your hair cut. Look through some hairdressing story books together or play hairdresser (minus the scissors!) at home. Introducing the concept makes the big day itself a little less daunting.

Make the big day a positive experience

  • Some kid-specific salons have special styling chairs where the child can sit in an airplane, fire truck, police car or a race car. Your child can choose to watch a video, too
  • Some kid-specific salons keep your child happily distracted with lollipops, balloons, bubble blowing and by singing songs.
  • If your child has a hard time sitting in the styling chair or is fussing, you can hold baby on your lap during the haircut. Don’t worry, you don’t have to sit in the fire truck chair!
  • Bring an extra shirt in case your child doesn’t want to wear the cape. Sometimes it helps to remind little boys that super heroes wear capes!

Other helpful tips

  • Don’t use the word “cut,” which can be scary for some kids. Say “trim” or “style” instead.
  • Use nicknames like “wind machine” for the blow dryer or “tickle” for the buzzer so they’re less afraid of the noise.
  • Choosing the right time of day is very important. If your child is overly tired or hungry, the experience will be stressful for everyone involved.
  • Be realistic. If your child has a lot of energy and isn’t particularly good at sitting still for long, then a quirky baby celeb style isn’t going to happen. Opt instead for an easy-to-maintain style until baby is older and better at sitting still for longer periods.
  • Routine is key. Try to stick to the same stylist as it helps build trust and rapport. By going for regular haircuts with the same stylist, your little one will eventually like to get a haircut as much as you do!
  • Remember to save the first lock of hair for your Baby Book! Your child’s hair will probably change in color or texture as he or she gets older. Some salons commemorate the occasion with a personalized “First Haircut Certificate” complete with a clipping of the child’s hair!

Sensitive children need special treatment.

  • If you think your child might be a candidate for excessive squirming or crying, stop by and tour the salon ahead of time. Slowly get your child comfortable with the facility and staff.
  • Book an appointment during the week as salons tend to be less busy mid-day or after 5 during the week. This is an ideal time for the appointment as there will be fewer distractions for your child, which will help to optimize their comfort level.
  • Space it out if necessary. Some kid-specific salons are happy to accommodate your child’s preferences and will space out the haircut two or three sittings over a week if required.

Remember to be patient with your little one. A haircut is a necessity and although there may be a few tears to begin with, by following these tips and making it a fun experience, your little will want to return to the salon again!

– Jodi Jaskiewicz is an owner of a children’s salon in Royal Oak. As a mom and grandma, she has a passion for providing good service for kids.

A simple guide to sunburn and sunstroke

young sunburned boy

Erin Stevenson O’Connor, Wikimedia Commons.

Now that Michigan is warming up and summer is around the corner, it is important to recognize the signs, symptoms, and differences between sunburn and sunstroke.

What is sunburn?

A sunburn is a skin burn. It happens when you are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or tanning beds. It is important to know that you are still exposed to UV light even on cloudy days. Initial symptoms of a sunburn can include skin that is red, hot, or painful. In more severe cases, blisters can form over the skin with more intense pain and fevers. Most sunburns are not life-threatening.

What is sunstroke?

A sunstroke is when the body temperature increases due to external heat (e.g., prolonged sun exposure). The temperature will rise greater than 104°F. Examples of potential exposures include when children are left in cars on a hot summer day or when sports practice occurs under the blazing sun. Important features of sunstroke include decreased energy, dry or sweaty skin, vomiting, diarrhea, delirium, hallucinations, seizures, or slurred speech. A sunstroke is a medical emergency and could potentially be life-threatening.

How do you prevent and treat sunburn?

Prevention is key!

  • Always wear sunscreen when you are planning to go outside on a sunny (or even cloudy) day. Ideally, the SPF should be 30 or greater.
  • Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Choose areas that are shaded (under trees, umbrellas for example)
  • Cover as much skin as possible (long-sleeve shirts, long pants, hat), and wear sunglasses.
  • Avoid tanning beds.

How do you prevent and treat sunstroke?

Once again, prevention is key!

  • Always have checks in place (and discuss these with other caregivers) to ensure your child isn’t left behind in the car.
  • Provide athletes with adequate hydration before, during, and after sports practice.
  • Do not allow your child to participate in sports practice if he or she feels unwell.
  • Have a discussion with coaches about the plans that are in place to remove children who are exhibiting signs or symptoms of sunstroke.

If your child has signs or symptoms of a sunstroke, the most important initial step is to remove them from the sun exposure. Call EMS or take your child to the nearest emergency room for evaluation. While you are waiting for EMS or while driving your child to the emergency department, use the following rapid cooling methods: spray the child with water, use a fan, and apply ice packs to the body (on the neck, under the armpits, in the groin region).

– Gurpal Jones, MD, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician, Beaumont Health

How to manage allergy emergencies in children

Little girl blowing her nose.

Cropped image. Oddharmonic, Flickr. CC License.

What are allergies?

  • They are abnormal immune system reactions to things that are non-threatening to most people. When a person is or becomes allergic to a particular substance, the body thinks that the substance is trying to harm the body. That’s when the immune system mounts its response and we see the physical symptoms. The symptoms can range from just annoying to life-threatening.
  • Substances that can cause potential allergic reactions are foods, dust, pollen, medications, bugs and topical preparations.

What are the signs and symptoms of allergies and allergic reactions?

  • There is a wide range of allergy symptoms that can vary in different people.
  • The life-threatening version is called anaphylaxis.
    • This can cause potentially life-threatening symptoms in seconds. It is critical to determine if the allergy is causing this type of reaction very quickly.
    • People with anaphylaxis risk must carry an EpiPen® (or other brand of epinephrine auto-injector) with them at all times. It is a good idea to have an antihistamine around as well.
  • Seasonal allergies more commonly cause sneezing, itchy nose and/or throat, stuffy nose, coughing, and/or watery, itchy eyes.
  • Insect, medications, food cause more widespread symptoms such as coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, abdomen pain, swelling, trouble breathing, wheezing, in addition to the common ones listed above.

Who diagnoses allergies?

  • The pediatrician, family doctor, allergy specialist, or stomach specialist are all able to diagnose allergies. It is best to start with your primary provider first.

Prevention is the key to reactions.

However, being prepared is the medicine to treat the reactions.

What to do when there is a reaction?

  • Stay calm.
  • If there is ever a question, call 911.
  • Call your doctor if it is your first reaction, or one that is more than you expect.
  • If the symptoms are mild, you can give an antihistamine. Call your doctor if the dose isn’t on the bottle for your child’s weight.
  • Wash the affected area if it is a topical exposure.
  • If the symptoms are severe or progressing fast, use an EpiPen if you have one. Call 911 as well. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Other pointers about severe allergic reactions.

  • Consider an allergy band for the child to wear at all times.
  • Be sure to have an updated allergy/anaphylaxis plan filed at your child’s school.
  • If your child has an EpiPen, make sure that everyone in the family is used to using it. Ask your provider to write a prescription for a trainer pen and practice with it as a family once a month.
  • Keep extra EpiPens and antihistamine wherever you might need them. Up north at the cabin, on vacations, in sports bags, in purses, overnight bags, etc. It is a good idea to write a date with the current dosage and weight on each bottle so there is no need to calculate when it is needed.
  • Become informed and educated by reading labels and telling anyone who might need to know about your child’s allergies. Making sure all the siblings know them as well.
  • Find a support group. Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor. You are not alone in the worry that comes with life-threatening allergies.

– Sarah Rauner, CPNP Chief Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Emergency Center at Beaumont, Troy

Preserve that smile: Tips for finding the right dentist for your kids

child getting teeth cleaned

Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, so finding a good dental home is paramount in achieving dental health. Much like well-visits with a pediatrician, regular dental check-ups should be a priority. And starting dental care early can help promote a positive life-long dental experience.

Getting started

Referrals are very helpful when choosing a dentist and a good place to start is by asking your pediatrician. Friends and family with kids can also be good resources. If you’re looking specifically for a pediatric dentist, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has a great search feature by location.

Both family dentists and pediatric dentists can see pediatric patients. However, a pediatric dentist received two additional years of training pertaining to pediatric dental needs and psychology; he or she may be better prepared to address pediatric-specific dental issues including thumb-sucking.

It is a good idea to consider location as well, especially when your child is new to the dentist and may need to go more frequently than every six months. Once you have some recommendations, it is a good idea to visit the practice to get a feel for the atmosphere before choosing a dental home.

Office environment

While credentials may be of utmost importance to parents, a child’s first impression will be the waiting room and staff they meet upon arrival to the dental practice. An office with books for kids to look at and cheerful imagery will go a long way in reducing anxiety. Some small things like a step stool in the bathroom, no cavity clubs, positive reinforcement treats/stickers, and sunglasses to wear when under the bright lights can make kids feel welcome too.

Ask questions to find out who will be cleaning your child’s teeth; regardless of whether it is the dentist or the hygienist, make sure that person has experience with kids of all ages. Ask how he or she responds to a child who has some anxiety at the dentist and if you think your child may fit that bill, plan ahead and see if there is anything you can do to prepare your child. Determine what is included at the first visit and how frequently the dentist typically sees a child. Inquire as to what imaging studies may be routine and how often they are recommended. Finally, ask how the dentist handles after-hours emergencies.

As we observe pediatric dental care month, take the time to find a dental home and protect your child’s smile for years to come.

– Melissa Rettmann, M.S., PA-C, has a background in pediatrics and allergy. She is the mother of three young children and volunteers with the Parenting Program.

Raising healthy girls through sports

two girl soccer friends

As the mother of two daughters, a prime focus of mine is raising them to become strong, confident women. One way to encourage this is through sports.

Even for those not athletically inclined, introducing sports from a young age encourages development of physical strength and confidence, which helps create a healthy body image and increased self-esteem. Sports can be introduced in the form of individual sports or team sports.

Fostering a love for individual sports, such as running or swimming, can provide a later groundwork for future stress relief. If you and your child share that individual sport, it is a great way to bond with your child and sharing a lifelong love of a similar activity can be beneficial later in life as a constant to bond over.

Team sports can also provide a lot of benefits for girls by encouraging teamwork and facilitating positive social interactions. Sports also help to teach discipline, which can positively impact behavior at home and in school. Introducing sports from a young age can help girls to appreciate their bodies for their strengths and not just their beauty as many stereotypes focus upon.

Getting started

Introducing young girls to sports is easy even if you aren’t passionate about sports yourself. Many individual sports such as running can be practiced at home or in a nearby park. It can be fun to use a timer to track a child’s pace, help her achieve her goals, and monitor progress.

Most team sports start as young as age 3, but it isn’t necessary to wait until kids are preschool age if you’re able to join them for some parent/daughter bonding time. Once kids are about 18 months, there are many parent and child classes offered in the surrounding communities. Some common early-organized sports available to young girls are soccer, t-ball, dance, basketball and tennis. Once girls are preschool age, many of these organized sports are offered in a team setting through local YMCAs, community centers, and studios. Public schools also are a great resource as their varsity and JV teams sometimes have outreach programs offered to introduce school-age children to their corresponding sport. And, if you’re like me when introducing something new, a great place to visit is the library. After watching a few innings of a local elementary school softball game last summer, my daughter happily checked out several books on softball and baseball.

There are also many low-cost ways to introduce your daughters to sports with minimal equipment. Many local school playgrounds are open to the public during after-school hours and in the summer. There are often basketball hoops, soccer goals and baseball diamonds available at these schools. Investing in some kid-safe equipment and joining your daughters in practicing sports can build confidence and can be a fun bonding experience. In addition, some good sidewalk chalk can go a long way in creating a baseball diamond at home, although encouraging a younger brother to run to second base may still pose a challenge!

Above all, what is most important when introducing sports to young girls is to help foster a healthy appreciation of sports. By instilling this healthy habit, girls can increase their confidence through strength and positive social interactions, which in turn can help them to become strong, confident women.

– Melissa Rettmann, M.S., PA-C, has a background in pediatrics and allergy. She is the mother of three young children and volunteers with the Parenting Program.


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