What’s Going Around: Allergies, asthma and coughing

PinnacleHealth’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill is seeing a lot of coughing this week. In many cases, the coughing has been going on for weeks.

“If your child’s cough is ever longer than two weeks you should have them seen by their doctor,” Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said. “Prolonged coughs can be from post nasal drainage which can be caused by allergies or sinus infections. But sometimes a prolonged cough can be from a lung infection like pneumonia or from a tightening of the airways from asthma. The only way for your doctor to now is to listen to your child’s lungs.”

Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics saw an increase in seasonal allergy symptoms as the weather got warmer and many area farms started harvesting cornfields.

“More specifically, the sore throats have been a combination of strep, non-strep viral pharyngitis and coxsackieviruses, which cause ulcerations in the mouth and throat,” Dr. Joan Thode said.

They also report a sharp increase in the number of croup cases, as well as consistent rates of viral colds and sore throats.

They also saw an increase in sports and other injuries to the arms, legs, and joints as fall sports are in full swing.

Thode offered the following advice about croup:

“Croup is caused by a virus and therefore can have the fevers, runny nose and fatigue that are consistent with other viral colds. Croup is different than most other viruses, however, in that it causes swelling of the tissues near the vocal cords.

The vocal cords are designed to come together like a zipper when we speak, vibrating with air movement and creating our voice. When we need to breathe, the vocal cords are pulled apart to allow for air to freely enter the lungs. When a child has croup, inflammation prevents the vocal cords from opening fully. The cords stay somewhat close to each other and vibrate when the child breathes or coughs. This vibration causes the characteristic “barking” cough and hoarse voice. It also can cause a buzzy noise when the child inhales, giving the sense that he or she can’t breathe easily.

If your child has these noises and starts to breathe quickly or has the sense that he or she cannot breathe, they need to be seen promptly by a physician. Steroid treatment may be needed to acutely reduce the swelling at the vocal cords.

If your child has only a periodic barking cough and otherwise has no respiratory distress, some ways to help alleviate the cough at home include breathing in cold, dry air – open the freezer door and allow the child to take deep breaths in the cold air – or warm, moist air, such as a steamy bathroom with a hot shower running.”

Penn State Children’s Hospital said a few physicians reported that patients with asthma are experiencing some challenges with the fall allergy season. The allergies are actually making their conditions worse.

Dr. Ben Fogel said it’s important to make sure your asthmatic child is taking their proper medications.

This week, WellSpan Medical Group providers are seeing an increase in colds and other viral upper respiratory infections in York, Adams, and Lancaster counties. For prevention, WellSpan Medical Group providers recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your elbow. If in a home with someone affected, disinfecting surfaces such as counters and doorknobs is also recommended.

Summit Health is continuing to see many of the same bugs as last week, including coughs, sore throats and upper respiratory infections in school-aged children.

They want parents to know that now is the time to schedule a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control encourages everyone six months and older to get the annual vaccine.

Getting a flu shot is easier than ever, Summit officials said, with there drive-thru clinics. For more information on the clinics, visit www.summithealth.org.

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