What’s Going Around: COVID-19, influenza, stomach bug

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics reports a rise in COVID-19 cases this week. They also saw strep throat, pneumonia, a stomach flu with vomiting and diarrhea, and an increase in wheezing.

Some cases of wheezing are known asthmatics who have exacerbations with a viral illness, and others with wheezing as a new symptom for them due to pneumonia that responds to a virus

dr. Joan Thode gave the following advice about wheezing:

Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound, either on inhalation or exhalation, that is related to inflammation in the lungs. Inflammation is caused by the immune system attacking a threat or perceived threat, and the result can be partial or complete closure of the small airways.

Asthma is a chronic condition of either frequent flare-ups of this inflammation or more persistent, smoldering inflammation. Asthma cannot technically be formally diagnosed until after age 2, although infants and young toddlers may develop wheezing due to specific viral or bacterial lung diseases. These children are not guaranteed to have asthma later in life, although they should be watched more closely.

Bronchiolitis is an inflammation of the smallest airways caused by a virus. This usually only affects infants and toddlers. The small airways can swell / fill up with mucus, so that eventually no oxygen can get into the air sacs.

Any case of wheezing should be evaluated by a physician, as wheezing, regardless of the source, indicates inhibited airflow through the lungs. Many, but not all, cases of wheezing can be resolved with nebulizer or inhaler treatments, although other interventions are sometimes required. If you find that you have persistent rapid breathing using the abdomen for breathing, have an exaggerated expansion of the rib cage with each breath called contractions, and/or are unable to eat or drink because of the rapid breathing, take contact your child’s doctor immediately.

UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics in York and Spring Grove continues to see cases of flu, stomach flu, RSV and sore throat.

Patients who have the flu often begin to show symptoms of high fever, chills, watery eyes, body aches and fatigue. The fever can last up to five to seven days. A sore throat, runny nose and coughing also develop in the first 24 hours and the cough may get worse over a period of a week or more. The flu is highly 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 or health care provider to determine if your child needs to be seen.

Most cases of gastrointestinal viruses begin with loss of appetite and then frequent vomiting for the first one to three days. Diarrhea has also been linked to stomach ulcers. The stomach pain and loss of appetite can stay on and off for up to a week. It is important to rest the stomach for at least 30 minutes after vomiting and to take small sips of fluid every five to ten minutes, about one to two tablespoons. Clear liquids like Pedialyte are the best. If the abdominal pain is severe, your child is unable to keep sips of fluids, or your child is urinating less than usual, they should be evaluated by their doctor or health care provider as soon as possible. Over-the-counter diarrhea medications are not recommended as they allow the virus to stay in the system longer.

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital pediatricians see COVID-19, upper respiratory infections, bronchitis and the common cold.

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