Upstate Parent gets answers to those health and wellness questions you’ve always wanted to ask. You ask us, and we ask local experts to weigh in with some answers. This month, experts from Bon Secours St. Francis Health System answer. Have a burning question? Let us know! Remember that these answers are the opinions of these specific experts and not intended as medical advice. Always consult your personal doctor about your health.

Q: What can I do to help with incontinence in pregnancy?

A: “You laughed so hard you peed your pants,” is not so funny any more. Stress incontinence of urine (SIU), the inability to hold back urine during a physical stress, affects many women during pregnancy. With the combination of hormonal changes and increased abdominal pressure, the muscles that hold back urine can become weak. Kegel exercises are used to help SIU by increasing pelvic floor muscle strength. It is important that these exercises are done properly. A good start is two times a day for 5 – 10 seconds for 10 – 20 repetitions. Eliminating bladder irritants like caffeine and artificial sweeteners is helpful, as well as avoiding constipation. Improving your strength before delivery will decrease the incidence of SIU after delivery. Be patient; it can take up to six weeks to notice a change.

— Geeta Armstrong, Bon Secours St. Francis Physical Therapist

Q: Are the different forms of flu vaccine all equally effective?

A: There are two ways to administer the flu vaccine. One is inhaled nasally and the other is administered with an injection. Many parents prefer the inhaled version but, studies have shown that there was no higher benefit with the nasal application versus the injection. During the 2014 – 15 season, the nasal vaccine was recommended for children ages 2 – 8 years, but it is now recommended that children get whichever form is available. Children 6 months – 2 years of age need to get the injection. Regardless of age, it is important that your child gets a flu vaccine yearly. Discuss the vaccine with your physician since certain conditions that may require your child get a certain vaccine formulation.

— Dr. Amanda Austin, Bon Secours St. Francis 

Q: What causes fever blisters and how can I treat them at home?

A: Fever blisters are small groups of blisters around the mouth or lips that are caused by the herpes simplex virus. They usually heal in several days to two weeks on their own. They are spread by close contact such as sharing eating utensils or razors, kissing an infected person or touching that person’s saliva. To ease the blisters, place a cool, wet towel on the sores three times a day for 20 minutes. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce pain. Use a mouth rinse that has baking soda to soothe a sore mouth. Some products like Abreva and Zilactin can speed the healing of cold sores, while Orajel and Anbesol can numb sore areas on the lips. Children ages 2 and older can be treated with Zilactin-L Liquid, Orajel Baby and Anbesol. If younger than 2, talk to your health-care provider first.

— Dr. Stacy Bizzell, Bon Secours Medical Group, Internal Medicine

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