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Healthy Hearing Habits

27 Sep

Healthy Hearing Habits

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Hearing Disorders (NIDCD), noise-induced hearing loss is one of the number one preventable causes of hearing loss. Harmful noises and prolonged exposure to loud sounds can cause noise-induced hearing loss, and by learning how to avoid these things, you can protect yourself from hearing damage down the road.

What Causes Hearing Loss?

Our ear is lined with many hair cells – small, sensitive structures that convert sound energy into electrical signals and then send them to the brain. Once damaged, hair cells cannot grow back. Every day sounds, such as environmental and household noises, normally do not cause damage to our hair cells because our ears have adapted to them, but extremely loud noise and exposure to loud noises can cause damage. Therefore, learning habits of healthy living is very important to preserve your hearing so that you do not lose it.

What sounds cause noise-induced hearing loss?

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused one of two ways. It can either be caused by a one-time exposure to an intense “impulse” sound, like a loud explosion or a gunshot, or it can be caused by the continuous exposure to a loud sound over an extended period of time. In order to protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss, avoid working in areas where you will be exposed to loud noises on a regular basis, such as wood working shops. If you must work in a loud area, wear hearing protection.

Ways to Protect Your Hearing

It is vitally important to protect your hearing, because once damaged, it is impossible to get back. After losing your hearing, a hearing aid or hearing aids can help you hear at the optimal level; however, it is best to preserve your hearing before you suffer from hearing loss. Through healthy living habits, you can easily help prevent hearing loss. Avoiding loud noises is the number one way to protect against hearing loss. Turn down the volume on loud music, and reduce the amount of time spent listening to music or television that is loud. Also, keep your blood pressure and blood sugar under control, as these can affect your hearing. Do not put objects into your ear or blow your noise forcefully, as both of these things can affect your physical eardrum health.

Guest Post by John O’Connor

Do you or your children suffer from hearing loss? Let us know how it has affected your lives!

Image courtesy of  M I T C H Ǝ L L (flickr)

Vaccine Schedule

28 May

What are vaccinations and why are they given?

Babies and young children are especially vulnerable to infectious disease because their bodies have not yet built up a resistance. A vaccination helps the body to develop its own immune response that helps defend and protect it against that particular disease.

The World Health Organisation has an Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI), which has been adopted by the South African Department of Health. These are in the normal schedule of vaccines that are available free of charge. In addition to EPI vaccines, there are other vaccines that are available in the private sector. Below are detailed charts of the EPI and private vaccination schedules.

Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI)

Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI)

Private Immunisation Schedule

Private Vaccine Schedule

What are the possible side-effects of vaccinations?

The likelihood of side-effects has reduced dramatically within the last couple of years, due to newer and better vaccinations. These are the most common side-effects that can possibly occur within 24 – 48 hours after the vaccination has been given:

  • Redness, warmth and swelling at the site of injection
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Sleepiness
  • Irritability and persistent crying
  • Disinterest in food
  • Body rash


What do the different vaccines protect you against?

  • OPV: Oral polio vaccine drops
  • Pentaxim: Diptheria, Tetanus, accellular Pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type b and Polio
  • HBV: Hepatitis B
  • Infanrix-hexa:  This 6-in-1 injection immunizes against Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b, Polio, Hepatitis B
  • dT: Diptheria, Tetanus
  • PCV (Prevenar) Pneumococcal Vaccine: Prevention against Pneumococcal bacteria which can cause pneumonia, septesimia, otitis media and meningitis which could be fatal in children.
  • Synflorix Pneumococcal Vaccine: Prevention against Pneumococcal bacteria which can cause pneumonia, septesimia, otitis media and meningitis which could be fatal in children.
  • Rotarix: Prevention against Rota-virus (gastro in babies and children)
  • Rouvax: Measles
  • Varilrix: Chickenpox. It is recommended that this is given with the Measles vaccine. Because they are both live vaccines they have to be given together. If they are given separately, they have to be given a minimum of 4 weeks apart.
  • Avaxim: Hepatitis A vaccine
  • Priorix: Measels, Mumps, Rubella
  • Gardasil: The only Quadrivalent HPV vaccine (HPV= Human Papillomavirus). It protects against HPV 6, 11, 16 + 18 (Cervical, Vulvar and Vaginal Cancers and Genital warts).
  • Cervarix: An HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine for protection against HPV 16 + 18 (Cervical, Vulvar and Vaginal Cancers and Genital warts).


What vaccines are provided at Baby Guardian Vaccination Clinic?

Baby Guardian has both the state supplied vaccines and also the alternative private ones that are completely optional. We also supply flu vaccines that help protect your body against the most current strain of flu (these are not advised for babies less than 6 months). With every baby wellness visit, the consultation takes about 30 minutes. During this time your baby will be weighed, measured and checked according to developmental milestones. Any questions or concerns you may have will also be discussed.

Will my medical aid cover the cost of vaccinations?

Most vaccines are covered by medical aid, but you will have to claim back for it as most clinics only accept immediate cash payments

A Working Parent’s Guide to Dealing with Sick Kids

22 May

sick child stay at homeIf you’re a parent, especially a working one, I bet you’re dreading the seasonal changes and the associated onset of common colds & flu. I’m already sitting with a snotty 2-year old, and before I can even say the word “tissue”, his face looks like five slugs have had a 10cm race across his face! Joy! Luckily for me I’m able to work from home so I can take care of him and make sure he gets the necessary medication and rest he needs. But I remember being in the office full-time. Flu season was disastrous! My kids always seemed to pick an EXTREMELY-important-office-meeting day to come to me with big bleary eyes and tell me they’re not feeling well. “Sniff, sniff”.

I hate to think that work would ever be a priority over a child’s health, but sometimes our impending deadlines seem a lot scarier than a runny nose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your child is really THAT sick that they need to stay at home. A sore throat always sounds worse in the morning, right? If you’re a working parent and you can’t decide whether to take the day off work or send your child to school, here are some pointers to make your decision a little easier:

  1. Determine whether it is in fact a cold or flu and not just a sore finger or some ploy to avoid a school assignment!
  2. If your child starts showing signs of colds and flu, address it immediately with the proper medication. Find out more about Symptoms of Colds and Flu.
  3. The best option now is to let your child take the day off school and get some proper rest.
  4. Find someone who can watch your child for the day, like a granny, friend, family member or domestic lady. Be sure to let them know what medication your child needs.
  5. If you can’t find someone for the day, try finding someone who can watch him for the morning so you can work a half-day.
  6. If there’s no one to watch your child, then make that call to your boss and take a day off work. You are completely entitled to this and should not feel bad about it (sadly so many of us do), especially when it comes to looking after your children. You have your phone for emergency purposes! And if you have access to the Internet and email at home then use that to get some work done. Your child should be resting so you shouldn’t have to run around after him all day.
  7. If there’s no chance of anyone watching your child, and you simply CANNOT take a day off work then you could take your child to work with you. This depends entirely on what kind of environment you are working in and whether your boss will allow it.
  8. The last option is to send your sickling to school. This isn’t a great option because your child needs proper rest, and they could end up making the other children sick (putting other moms in your unpleasant situation)! But this is a last resort that many of us have to take, and I have to admit that I have done it before. If you send him to school, be sure to keep your phone close by; you might get a call from the school requesting that you take your sick child home.
  9. Make sure you guard yourself against any viruses by taking immune boosting supplements. Read 13 Ways to Avoid Colds and Flu for some more useful tips!

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions that could also help working parents deal with sick kids, please share them with us. We’d love to hear from you!

Symptoms of Colds & Flu

21 May

symptoms of colds and fluColds and flu are both common winter viruses, but isn’t always easy to distinguish between the two and we often confuse one for the other. The major difference is that flu can be lethal.

Flu is not just a common cold. Flu is caused by the highly contagious influenza virus that is spread though coughing, sneezing and hand-to-hand contact. It affects up to 10% of adults and 30% of children ever year.  And if it is not properly treated, it can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people, especially babies, toddlers, older people and people with other underlying medical conditions.

Influenza viruses can infect the nose, throat, sinuses, upper airways and lungs. Although symptoms vary from person to person, here is a general guide you can use to tell if you have the flu:


  • Fever (39-40°C)
  • Aches and pain (including headaches)
  • Cough (a severe cough that may overlap with bronchitis or pneumonia)
  • Tiredness (extreme fatigue)
  • Sudden onset

New strains of the influenza virus are discovered every year. You can avoid catching the flu virus by having a yearly flu vaccine.

Those of you living in Johannesburg North, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria and surrounds will be glad to hear that get your flu vaccine at Baby Guardian Vaccination Clinic.

Foods that Fight Flu

17 May

In our article 13 Ways to Avoid Colds & Flu we mentioned some foods that are great flu fighters. Get your science caps on, because here are the reasons why!


Yoghurt is well-known for its pro-biotic qualities. The key ingredient in preventing flu is Lactobacillus reutri, a pro-biotic that stimulates the white blood cells to fight infection. In a Swedish study, workers who took Lactobacillus reutri were 33% less likely to get sick! So when you buy your next tub of yoghurt, be sure to look for one that has Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidus and L. rhamnosus.


Garlic has several infection-fighting compounds, including allicin, which fights bacteria and acts as a decongestant. Garlic is also believed to act as an antioxidant and destroy free-radicals – the active oxygen molecules that damage cells. Studies have shown that people who take a daily garlic capsule or 12 weeks are two-thirds less likely to catch a cold or flu. And if they did catch a cold, they had it for 3 ½ days less. You don’t need to take this as a supplement. It’s more effective, and a lot tastier, in its food form. It is recommended that you have 1 – 3 cloves of cooked garlic in your food every day.

garlic_food that fights flu


Mushrooms contain 300 compounds (including beta-glucan) that increase immunity and the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms are the best immune boosters, but regular mushrooms will do the trick too.

Fatty Fish

Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids. The two main forms of omega-3, DHA and EPA, benefit the immune system by absorbing nutrients and removing toxins. The acids also increase activity of phagocytes — cells that “eat up” bacteria.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits increase your vitamin C intake. It is recommended that fresh fruit should be eaten on an empty stomach (preferably about 30 minutes before breakfast) to receive the full benefits. The fruit acts as a cleanser and helps rid the body of unnecessary toxins. Grapefruits, tangerines, oranges, lemons, limes and naartjies are examples of great citrus fruits that you can to add to a meal.

citrus fruit_food that fights flu

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato are one of the most nutritional vegetables. They boast potassium, vitamins A and C, and calcium – all helpful in staying healthy and fighting off cold and flu symptoms.

Brazil Nuts and Almonds

Nuts in general are healthy, but brazil nuts and almonds are great immune boosters! Brazil nuts contain an antioxidant called selenium, and almonds are rich in vitamin E.

Black tea

A Harvard study shows that drinking 5 cups of black tea a day for 2 weeks will turn your immune system T cells into “Hulk Cells” producing 10 times more interferon – a protein that fights colds and flu. You may be glad to know that Green tea works just as well; and you can still enjoy the benefits without drinking as many as 5 cups a day!

Already have a cold or flu?

We don’t have a natural miracle cure, but we can suggest some more healing foods that will boost your immune system and ease some of your symptoms!

chicken soup_food that fights flu

  1. Chicken Soup helps clear clogged airways and will give you vital energy. Add plenty of veggies and garlic for extra nourishment!
  2. Hot and spicy food like horseradish, chilli and spicy sauces can help ease congestion.
  3. Fresh ginger root can soothe coughs, sore throats and fever. Try making ginger tea by adding boiling water to 2 tablespoons of grated ginger and let it brew for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Honey can help suppress your cough and has been known to stop the growth of bacteria. Add some to hot water or a lightly brewed tea.
  5. Vitamin C isn’t only found in citrus fruit. Other foods that are high in vitamin C include green peppers, potatoes, strawberries and pineapple.
  6. Fluids. Stay hydrated with plenty of liquids, especially water and pure fruit juices. Hot beverages like chamomile or peppermint herbal tea, or hot water with a slice of lemon work well too.


A daily routine of skipped meals, lots of caffeine, high-fat and high-sugar junk foods can make you more susceptible colds and flu. So make your diet a priority and eat plenty of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and low-fat protein to strengthen your immune system.

13 Ways to Avoid Colds and Flu

17 May

Capt. Edward A. Murphy and his ridiculously accurate law have struck again. I’m scheduled to write an article on how to avoid colds and flu and I’m now doing so with a box of tissues close at hand! After the last 2 days of dosing myself up with immune boosts & paracetamol, I assure you the best way to deal with a cold or flu is to AVOID, AVOID, AVOID!!

The number 13 is often considered an unlucky number. Let’s hope the following 13 steps will help you avoid colds and flu!

  1. Get a flu vaccine from your local pharmacy, clinic, hospital or GP.
  2. Eat flu-fighting foods like yoghurt, garlic, mushrooms, fatty fish, citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, brazil nuts and almonds, and drink black tea. Learn more about how these foods can fight flu.
  3. Wash your hands often, and don’t touch your nose, eyes or mouth unnecessarily.wash hand to avoid flu
  4. Use your elbows instead of your hands to hit elevator buttons and open public bathroom doors. Try not to touch objects around you when you’re in public places, like the rail of a staircase or escalator.
  5. Disinfect surfaces and items in your household and office, especially counter tops, telephones, computer keyboards, light switches, door handles and remote controls. Make this at least a weekly routine, because germs can stay on surfaces for 3 days!
  6. Use a paper towel at home. Wiping your hands on dish towels will create germ hotspots.
  7. Get the right supplements. Vitamin D, vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids, Ginseng and Zinc are all fantastic in fighting flu.
  8. Quit smoking and avoid people who are smoking. Smoke makes you more vulnerable to complications of respiratory infections.
  9. Moderate exercise for 20 – 30 minutes every day (or every other day) will help to increase blood flow, send nutrients to your cells, and decrease the stress hormones. Stress uses up that Vitamin B that is needed by your immune system to fight viruses.
  10. Get at least 7 hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation puts your immune system at risk.sleep to avoid flu
  11. Get social. Research shows that people who are sociable tend to be more positive; causing them to have a strengthened immune system. BUT make sure you are socializing with healthy people!
  12. Minimise exposure to viruses by avoiding close or prolonged contact with people with a cold or flu. Flu has an incubation period of 1 – 4 days and a contagious period of 7 days or longer, so it’s best to avoid any person with flu for at least a week.
  13. “Contain” sneezes and coughs with disposable tissues (and make sure to dispose of them asap!) and wash your hands afterwards. My daughter was taught at school to sneeze and cough into her elbow and not her hand. Not a bad idea!

Avoid the Flu this Winter – Get Vaccinated!

17 May

flu vaccinationIt’s that time of year when we salvage our heaters from storage and abandon our flip-flops for toe socks. Winter is fast approaching and along with it those ghastly snot bugs, ferocious fevers and headaches from hell; all thanks to common colds and flu!

Although often confused with the common cold, flu is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, and it can be deadly! Every year up to 10% of adults and 30% of children catch the flu. It’s highly contagious and spreads through coughing, sneezing, and hand-to-hand contact; infecting the nose, throat, sinuses, upper airways and lungs. Although some cases of the flu can be very mild, it can prove to be fatal for babies, toddlers, the elderly and people with underlying health issues. Not something to be ignored!

Children are especially prone to picking up viruses because their little bodies have not developed the kind of immunities that adults have. Children in crèche and school under the age of 12 are the most likely to get flu. And when they catch it, they bring it straight back home to their families…every mom’s nightmare! Closed communities, such as homes for the elderly, university campuses and military bases, are also prone to outbreaks that run their course over a few weeks.

You’ve heard it before: Prevention Is Better Than Cure.

So how can you protect your family against flu and the common cold this winter? The easiest and most effective way is for your entire family to receive a flu vaccine (yes moms and dads, you too!). Making a quick visit to your local pharmacy, hospital, clinic or GP could be the smartest thing you do this year. And every year for that matter! Even for the healthiest person. Why? Because the flu virus strains are constantly changing. Each year, before flu season, the most recent circulating viruses are identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and are included in a new vaccine formula that offers the best protection. And with the onset of the Swine Flu in the last few years, you’ll be glad to know that the flu vaccine will protect you against that ghastly H1N1 virus!

If you’re worried about scary side effects, don’t be! Flu vaccines are safe and generally well tolerated. The vaccine will not give you the flu. The vaccine is made up of small inactive, non-infectious particles of the season’s flu virus, which merely alert the body to the threat of the virus. In that way, your body makes antibodies and builds up its own immunity against the circulating flu viruses. The most common reaction to the vaccine is just a mild soreness at the site of the injection.

Did you know that people considered to be in high-risk groups can get their flu vaccinations for free from government clinics or hospitals? Now you do!

The high-risk groups include:

  • Pregnant women (past their first trimester)
  • People over 65 years of age;
  • People with chronic heart disease, diabetes or chronic lung disease, especially asthmatics
  • People living with HIV/Aids or other reduced immune system related conditions

PLEASE NOTE there are people who should NOT have the flu vaccine, which includes:

  • Babies under the age of 6 months
  • Women in their first trimester of pregnancy
  • People who are allergic to eggs, because the vaccine is grown in hens’ eggs.

So what are you waiting for? Avoid the headache of having headaches, bins full of snotty tissues and fuzzy days out of action. Do the smart thing and visit your local pharmacy, hospital, clinic or GP today! Prevention really is better than cure!!

You can get your flu vaccine at Baby Guardian Vaccination Clinic.

Contact Sr. Andrea to book an appointment.

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