What's Going Around?

Colds and Upper Respiratory Infections

Colds, upper respiratory infections, and URIs are common terms we use to describe viral illnesses that cause nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, fever, and cough. The fever usually lasts for 2-3 days, and the cough with congestion and runny nose may last for 5-10 days. The typical preschool-age child may experience 6-10 colds per year. Most colds resolve on their own with rest and fluids, but some may lead to ear infection, sinus infection, asthma attack, or other complications. If you are concerned about the possibility of one of these complications, please have your child seen in our office for an evaluation.

See also: Colds | Sinus Pain or Congestion

Cough

We are currently seeing children and adolescents with cough, typically one of the most prominent and bothersome symptoms of viral respiratory infections at this time of year. Coughing is an important and beneficial reflex that our bodies need to clear secretions and to keep open our major airways during the course of a viral cold or upper respiratory infection. However, severe or persistent cough can be associated with asthma, pneumonia, sinus infections, and bronchiolitis, and should be evaluated by your health care provider.

See also: Asthma Attack | Asthma Attack | Chest Pain | Colds | Colds | Cough | Croup | Earache

Croup

We are currently seeing cases of croup, a viral respiratory illness that most often is caused by the parainfluenza virus. The cough and breathing that are associated with croup make it distinctly different from other viral colds or respiratory illnesses. This is because the parainfluenza virus infects and irritates the voice box, the vocal cords, and the windpipe. The cough is worse at night, and it has a distinct bark that sounds much like a seal's bark. Associated with the barky cough, your child may have difficulty when inhaling air, making a labored and whistling sound when breathing in -- called stridor. Humidified air and fluids often are the most helpful treatments.Please call the office to have your child evaluated by the doctor if he/she has symptoms of croup.

See also: Cough | Cough | Croup

Influenza

Among the many viruses we see causing respiratory illness right now, the influenza virus (commonly called "the flu") can be particularly severe. Infection with the influenza virus causes sudden onset of a fever, chills, dry cough, and muscle aches. Other symptoms include headache, fatigue, sore throat, and nasal congestion.

Some children are at increased risk of more serious illness from influenza, because of conditions such as diabetes, asthma, immunity problems, or being treated with immune-suppressing medications.  They are especially vulnerable to complications, and should get vaccinated as soon as possible. The "Seasonal Flu Shot"  or the "Seasonal Nasal FluMist" that has been administered to many people this year protects against Influenza A, B and H1N1.

Please get a vaccination if you and your child have not yet had it this year!

See also: Influenza - Seasonal | Influenza Exposure | Flu

Strep Throat

We are currently seeing quite a bit of strep throat. If your child has a fever, sore throat, headache, or stomachache without any other viral symptoms like congestion or cough, it may be strep throat. Bacteria, called Group A strep, cause this type of sore throat. To diagnose strep throat, your physician will require a swab of your child's throat, and antibiotics will be needed if the strep test is positive.

See also: Sore Throat | Strep Throat Exposure

Vomiting and Diarrhea

We are currently seeing viral illnesses that cause vomiting and diarrhea. Usually called viral gastroenteritis, the virus causes inflammation and irritation of the stomach and the intestines, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. This illness, often called the "stomach flu" typically lasts 1-2 days, with diarrhea lasting a few days longer.  

It is important to make sure that your child does not get dehydrated with this condition. Offer Gatorade, Pedialyte, or warm soda pop in small amounts every 20 minutes until your child can keep liquids down. If they are unable to keep liquids down, back off for 2 hours. the try the small amounts again.  If your child has few wet diapers and does not make tears, or appears limp or lethargic, they may be dehydrated and we will need to see them in our office. 

See also: Diarrhea | Vomiting Without Diarrhea