What’s Going Around: Spring allergies, flu, strep throat

The CVS MinuteClinic in York saw less flu this week, but a spike in sinus and ear infections as well as viral illnesses.

Viruses are treated with over-the-counter medications for symptom management.  Ear and sinus infections are treated appropriately with antibiotics and over-the-counter medications.  Those medications vary as needed per symptoms, but primarily target mucous and congestion, relief of pain and fever.

UPMC Pinnacle’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill reports that even though it is March and spring is around the corner, they are still seeing many cases of influenza and strep throat. 

However, as the trees are starting to bud, spring allergies started for many of their patients the past week.  Allergic rhinitis causes runny nose, itchy nose and eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, and sometimes an itchy or scratchy throat from the post nasal drainage.  Allergies should never cause a fever.   Although some people feel a bit tired from their allergy symptoms, they should still be able to go to school and be active throughout the day.   

“If your child appears ill, feverish and complaining of a sore throat, decreased eating, and wet cough, this is not likely allergies and you should take them to their medical provider to see if it could be the flu or strep throat or some other infection,” Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said.

Most allergic rhinitis responds well to over the counter antihistamines.  Ask your doctor or medical provider which antihistamine would be best for your child. 

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics continued to see a lot of flu this week, diagnosing 41 cases.  All of those tested were the Influenza A strain. The current strains include one that is not covered by this year’s flu vaccine, though vaccinated kids do typically have a lessened course of the flu.

Fevers increased this week and the majority were due to viral illnesses and ear infections.

Strep throats were at about 45 percent of the sore throats seen. With the persistent surge in viral illnesses, they saw a lot of secondary ear infections and sinusitis.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about sinusitis:

“Sinusitis, sometimes called a ‘sinus infection,’ refers to a bacterial infection within the sinuses, which are spaces within the bones of the face that are lined with mucous-producing skin cells.

When a person gets a cold, the viral process causes an increase in mucous, which leads to congestion and runny nose. Typically, the immune system kills off the virus in three to five days, after which we feel better, and the congestion lessens and drains over the following few days.

The difference between a ‘cold’ and a true sinus infection is the involvement of bacteria. If the mucous in the nasal passages does not drain efficiently, or if the viral infection is not killed off by the immune system quickly, this creates a prime breeding ground for bacteria. This is where a cold with congestion changes into a bacterial sinus infection.

This process, however, is not particularly fast-a true sinus infection requires at least 10 days of persistent nasal congestion to allow enough time for the bacterial colonies to multiply. While a cold will cause nasal and sinus pressure, a true sinus infection cannot be diagnosed until at least 10 days of congestion.

When to take your child to their doctor for concern of sinusitis: persistent congestion at least 10 days in length without any improvement; fevers that occur after the initial five days of a viral infection; a cold that seems to start to get better after five to six days but then acutely worsens without every fully improving.”

Geisinger Holy Spirit Primary Care in Cumberland County reports a stomach virus, including vomiting, diarrhea and nausea, upper respiratory viruses with cough and cold, the flu and strep throat.

WellSpan Pediatric Medicine Physicians in Lebanon, Lancaster, York and Adams Counties are seeing cases bronchiolitis, asthma and allergy flares and sinusitis. It does appear the flu has started to slow down over the past week.

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