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

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

Strep throat cases are increasing in addition to skin impetigo.

dr. Joan Thode gave the following advice about coughing:

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

The most important thing to look out for in a coughing child is whether they have trouble breathing easily. A terrible-sounding wet cough in a child who otherwise breathes, plays and eats well is much less of a concern than a child whose cough sounds much less severe but the child appears to be panting and having trouble breathing easily.

Also use your eyes to assess how fast the baby or child is breathing: sustained rapid breathing for more than a minute or two is worrisome, as is the effort required to breathe. If the baby or child seems to be expanding their chest or abdomen excessively for more than a minute or two, the concern should increase.

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

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

This week, UPMC Children’s Community Pediatrics in York and Spring Grove are seeing many illnesses with similar symptoms, including strep throat, RSV, upper respiratory infections, viral fever unrelated to COVID-19, viral pharyngitis, allergic rhinitis, and the first cases of the flu.

Allergic rhinitis causes a 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 while some kids are a little tired of their allergy symptoms, they should still be able to go to school and be active all day.

If your child seems ill or feverish and complains of a sore throat, eating less or having a wet cough, this is probably not an allergy and you should take your child to the doctor to see if it could be the flu or strep throat. or any other infection. Most cases of allergic rhinitis respond well to over-the-counter antihistamines. Ask your doctor or health care provider which antihistamines are best for your child.

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

Symptoms of viral illnesses can include sore throat, stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and often fever. If the fever is not easily reduced with over-the-counter fever reducers, OR if the fever goes on and off for more than three days, you should see your doctor or health care professional. If your child’s cough or symptoms worsen 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 the flu often experience chills, watery eyes, body aches and fatigue, 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 get worse over a period of a week or more.

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

Influenza 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 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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