What’s Going Around: Pink eye, sinusitis and the common cold

Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics says they’re still seeing strep throat in pretty high numbers, as well as an increase in pneumonia. Pink eye, sinusitis, ear infections and viral colds are also still prevalent.

Flu cases are still falling, Dr. Joan Thode said, but they still diagnosed 15 cases within the last week.

Sinusitis and ear infections are secondary infections caused by the normal bacteria in the sinus cavities and ear space. For example, the bacteria can grow on the mucus in the sinuses from viral illness and create an infection.

Thode said it’s a good idea to see a doctor if congestion and runny nose have not improved after 9-10 days or if your child has a new fever after a week or so of cold symptoms.

In an ear infection, the normal bacteria grow on the extra fluid that can accumulate in the inner ear space during a viral infection. The small size of children’s skulls makes ear drainage harder than in older children and adults, which is why ear infections are more common for younger kids, Thode said.

Sinusitis is treated with antibiotics in all cases, although ear infections are not always treated with prescriptions. Tylenol and ibuprofen can be used to ease a child’s pain from an ear infection. Babies younger than 6 months should not be given ibuprofen, Thode said.

PinnacleHealth’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill is noticing more pink eye cases. The symptoms include a yellow discharge from the eye that needs to be wiped away several times a day.

Pink eye is very contagious and likely needs to be treated with prescription eye drops.

To prevent pink eye, Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman encourages frequent handwashing and cleaning all toys and surfaces that may have been contaminated.

Children with pink eye should stay out of school until they received the eye drops for at least 24 hours, Zimmerman said.

Providers at Summit Health in Franklin County report seeing a significant number of upper respiratory infections. Symptoms include cough, congestion and sneezing.

The viral infections can last up to 10 days and are usually treated with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, nasal spray and antihistamines.  However, if a cough, fever or sinus pain persists, they say you should be checked out by a medical professional.

There’s been a decrease in the number of flu and stomach bug cases in Adams, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties, according to WellSpan Medical Group. Providers there are still anticipating an increase in spring allergies in the near future.

Penn State Children’s Hospital says its lab identified the common cold as the most common virus identified this week.

There’s also been an increase of illnesses caused by hMPV, or human metapneumovirus, a virus that causes upper respiratory infections. These include bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways that lead to the lungs. Most bronchiolitis cases are being seen in children ages two and under.

Providers at the hospital in Hershey are also seeing an increase in ear infections likely triggered by all of the viral illness.

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