What’s Going Around: Flu, croup, stomach bug, asthma concerns


WellSpan Pediatric Medicine Physicians across Central Pennsylvania are seeing a stomach bug, flu-like illnesses and even a few cases of influenza, and sore throats.

UPMC Pinnacle in Camp Hill is seeing croup this week. Croup is a viral upper respiratory infection that causes a very barky cough, hoarse voice, sore throat and usually a fever for the first three to five days. The cough with croup is worst in the middle of the night and early morning hours.

The virus that causes croup causes swelling and mucous around the vocal cords. This creates a hoarse voice and the classic croup cough that can sound barky like a dog or seal.

The younger the child is, the more difficulty they have with this cough. In young children they can have stridor, which is a loud breathing sound from the vocal cords.

“The best thing to help the cough is moisture, such as running a cool mist humidifier in the room while they sleep,” Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said. “Also offering cold or warm clear liquids to drink. If a young child is upset and crying, this will make the stridor worse, so calming them should help. Sometimes sitting in a steamy bathroom can help. If your child appears to be having trouble breathing and none of these things help, you should call your medical provider immediately

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics continued to see a lot of viral illnesses with coughs and fevers.

They continue to see sinusitis and ear infections in moderate numbers. Strep throat had a slight increase, though 65 percent of sore throats seen were attributed to viral illnesses.

Bronchiolitis continues to increase. Asthma exacerbations also continue to increase. They expect a continued increase in asthma “attacks” with the cold weather.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about asthma safety:

“Asthma is a disease caused by persistent inflammation in the lungs. It can be a deadly disease and therefore warrants respect for the potential severity, as well as preparatory steps to prevent exacerbations.

As the weather turns very cold, it’s important to remember that cold air is one of the top asthma triggers. If your child is an asthmatic, be sure to have all of their medications refilled and available wherever your child is. They should never be more than a minute away from their rescue medication. Kids and even most teens need a spacer to adequately administer their inhaler medication. Make sure their spacer is with their medication at all locations.

It’s also important to ensure that all caregivers are knowledgeable about your child’s asthma medications and how to administer them. All asthmatic children should have an Asthma Action Plan created with their primary-care physician and printed for all caregivers.”

There’s much of the same going around this week at Penn State Children’s Hospital. Pediatricians are still seeing a lot of common colds and upper respiratory viruses. They are seeing an increase in the number of patients with both since last week.

This week the CVS MinuteClinic in York treated ear infections, a possible scabies case and viral upper respiratory infections. They also administered the flu shot.

The CVS MinuteClinic Lancaster reported the following this week:

“Gastroenteritis – We have seen across all ages a stomach virus with rapid onset vomiting and/or diarrhea. Symptoms can last 24 to 72 hours. We recommend not taking anti-diarrheal medications. Eat a bland diet, drink sips of fluids to stay hydrated. Take Tylenol for any body aches or fever. Prescription nausea medication can be prescribed in more severe cases. Follow up care is needed for dehydration, including no wet diapers for babies or not being able to make urine.

Pharyngitis aka Sore Throat – We have seen many patients with sore throat. Strep throat is a bacterial infection warranting antibiotic therapy. If fever, severe sore throat, headache and lack of other cold symptoms is present a rapid strep test would be recommended. Some sore throats are viral and improve with rest, fluids, ibuprofen, hot teas. Strep has been prevalent in the school age population and consideration of flu versus strep is important this time of year during peak flu season.

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