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Keep Your Family Healthy

Advice from the Best Doctors in Hawaii.


(page 1 of 3)


Does this involve shots? Dr. Michael Sia soothes a pediatric patient.

Photo: Rae Huo




With the debate  on health insurance raging, it’s hard not to have healthcare on the brain. But congressional and policy arguments aside, everyone can agree that when it comes to your loved ones, you just want them to be healthy. In search of advice on how to best keep Island families healthy, we turned to some of the physicians who appeared on our most recent list of Hawaii’s Best Doctors (July 2008 issue). For more on why these doctors were selected by Best Doctors in America, visit Best Doctors 2008.





Babies and Children

Pediatricians treat children from birth to age 21,  but they also care for other important patients: Mom and Dad. “You’re creating a family partnership,” explains Dr. Michael Sia, of the Department of Pediatrics at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children (945-9955). 

A classic dilemma is, “How can I tell if my child is sick enough to go to the doctor?” According to Sia, parents should look at the basics: eating, sleeping, elimination and crying. “For infants or toddlers, if something drastically changes, then have a conversation with your doctor,” Sia says. Newer parents tend to come in to his office faster, while “more experienced parents may wait and see, do a little TLC and chicken soup.” TLC and soup are often effective, Sia notes, saying that one of the nice things about his field of medicine is that, “Kids are pretty resilient.”

During office visits, Sia routinely discusses good health habits with children and parents: hygiene, accident prevention (particularly drowning), avoiding obesity and smoking. This fall, many parents are also concerned about the H1N1 flu virus. “You don’t have to wear a mask,” Sia says. “The masks aren’t nearly as important as a good hand-washing.”

Specialists for Children

Pediatricians most commonly refer patients to:
• Allergists
• Ear, nose and throat specialists
• Orthopedic doctors
• Neurologists
• Endocrinologists
• Gastroenterologists. (When it comes to pediatricians, “We’re all fixated on poop!” laughs Sia.)

In October or early November, he anticipates an offshoot of the normal flu shot that will specifically target the H1N1 virus.  “It’s coming separately, through the Department of Health. It’s two doses with a period of a month in between.”

“I’m really excited about how we’re able to adapt to looking at public health threats,” says Sia. “I think the biggest enhancements in our lives have come from our vaccination program. It’s gotten poor PR from our end of the spectrum, and people can see [vaccines] as doing more harm than good, but we’re seeing things that used to routinely cause death and now don’t.” 

Biggest Myth?

According to pediatrician Dr. Michael Sia,  many parents are overly concerned about fevers in their children. They’re worried that “fever will kill you or fry the brain. Fever is only a symptom, not a diagnosis,” he says. “A high number doesn’t mean it’s a bad bug or germ. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rush to the emergency room.” So parents, by all means call your pediatrician, but don’t panic based solely on a thermometer number.



Dr. Galen Y.K. Chock is chief of pediatrics  at The Queen’s Medical Center’s Department of Pediatrics and also president of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and sees patients from birth through their teen years. (521-6030).

Pediatrician Dr. Galen Chock gave the magazine advice about adolescents.

Photo: Rae Huo

Regular checkups are important.

Chock: “Most doctors would prefer to see adolescents once a year. For girls, we worry about scoliosis in particular. They’re going to get a growth spurt as puberty starts—that might be as young as fifth grade, and as late as eighth grade—and if their backs start to get a little bent, we like to diagnose that earlier rather than later. It can occur with boys, but it’s much more common with girls.”

Teens need even more exercise than adults.

Chock: “This is an important time to be exercising. They’re growing, and it helps with bone and muscle development and coordination. The recommended physical activity level is 60 minutes, five days a week, moderate intensity. We find that a lot of kids are not getting even close to that. By comparison, the recommended activity level for adults is just 30 minutes, five times a week.”

Don’t forget about vaccines.

Chock: “There have been a lot of new vaccines coming out geared to adolescents. There are three we like to give out: A tetanus booster, the meningococcal vaccine and, for girls, the Gardisil vaccine, which is very effective against HPV infection, which can lead to cervical cancer decades down the road.”

Having problems? They might not be getting enough sleep.

Chock: “It’s not uncommon to see adolescents getting four to five hours of sleep a night, and thinking that’s normal. The recommended amount for high-schoolers is seven to eight hours a night. But many students are dealing with a lot of homework, so rather than just looking at the total number of hours of sleep, we ask questions like, do you need a nap in the afternoon? Do you fall asleep in class? Are you grumpy? Are you getting headaches? Those can all be signs you’re not getting enough sleep.”

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