What’s Going Around: Viral illnesses, influenza, strep throat

What's Going Around

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics reports a lot of viruses this week, some cases of COVID-19, croup, seasonal allergies, and hand, foot and mouth.

Strep throat cases are increasing in addition to skin impetigo.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about coughs:

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“Coughs can have a variety of sounds, ranging from dry and hard coughing to more of a seal-like bark to a very wet cough. Though it’s important to use our ears when evaluating coughs in our kids, it’s more important to use our eyes to evaluate what the child looks like when coughing and how the cough affects the child’s ability to function.

The most important thing to look for in a coughing child is whether they seem to be struggling to breathe easily. A terrible-sounding wet cough in a child who is otherwise breathing easily, playing and eating fine is of much less concern than a child whose cough sounds much less severe but the child seems to be gasping and struggling to take a breath easily.

Also use your eyes to evaluate how quickly the baby or child is breathing: Sustained rapid breathing beyond a minute or two is concerning, as is the level of effort being used to breathe. If the baby or child seems to be expanding their chest or belly in an exaggerated way for more than a minute or two, the level of concern should rise.

As a parent, often your instincts will tell you that something isn’t right about how your child is breathing or coughing. In this season of increased coughs and colds, do not hesitate to call your child’s doctor with questions and concerns. We would much rather answer your questions than have your child not get needed evaluation.”

WellSpan Pediatric Medicine Physicians are seeing continued cases of asthma flare-ups, sports-related injuries, viral illnesses that were not COVID-19, and a slow reduction in COVID-19 cases starting to show.

This week UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics in York and Spring Grove are seeing many illnesses that have similar symptoms, including strep throat, RSV, upper respiratory tract infections, viral fevers that are not COVID-19 related, viral pharyngitis, allergic rhinitis, and the first cases of influenza.

Allergic rhinitis causes runny nose, itchy nose and eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, and sometimes an itchy or scratchy throat from the postnasal drainage. Allergies should never cause a fever, and although some children feel a bit tired from their allergy symptoms, they should still be able to go to school and be active through the day.

If your child appears ill, feverish and complaining of a sore throat, is eating less, or has a wet cough – this is not likely allergies, and you should take them to their medical provider to see if it could be the flu, strep throat, or some other infection. Most cases of allergic rhinitis respond well to over-the-counter antihistamines. Ask your doctor or medical provider which antihistamine would be best for your child.

Strep throat is very contagious, and it needs to be treated with an antibiotic. Strep throat typically causes a sudden onset of sore throat, painful swallowing, headache, decreased appetite, and sometimes vomiting. Often there is a fever, and sometimes there is a fine, red rash on the face, chest, and groin as well. If your child has these symptoms, they should be seen by a medical provider.

Symptoms of viral illnesses may include sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and often a fever. If the fever is not easily reduced with over-the-counter fever reducers, OR if the fevers go on and off for more than three days, then you should see your doctor or medical provider. If your child’s cough or symptoms are worsening and they are less playful and eating less, they should also be seen.

Like other viral illnesses, flu symptoms often include a high fever. However, patients with flu frequently experience chills, watery eyes, body aches, and fatigue as well, as well as longer fevers lasting five to seven days. A sore throat, runny nose, and cough also develop in the first 24 hours, and the cough can worsen over a period of a week or longer.

If you or your child appear to have the flu, your doctor may decide to treat you with anti-flu medication, Tamiflu, if it is appropriate. Tamiflu only works if given in the first 48 hours of symptoms, and even then, it only reduces symptoms for one to two days. Tamiflu has side effects, so it may only be recommended if you are considered high risk based on age and chronic ailments. The best way to prevent influenza is the flu vaccine. Although it may not work 100 percent of the time, it does reduce the chances of getting the flu and of having dangerous flu complications.

Influenza is very contagious and spreads through the air, so if you have flu-like symptoms you should try to avoid being in public and around other people, especially babies and the elderly. Call your doctor to see if you qualify for treatment or if you need to be seen.

This week, pediatricians at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital and Penn State Health Medical Group locations in Cumberland County are seeing COVID-19, RSV, colds, hand, foot and mouth disease, runny noses and coughs.

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