What’s Going Around: Another stomach bug, allergies, more suspected flu cases

PinnacleHealth’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill says there is a gastrointestinal virus going around. It starts with belly pain and vomiting, with diarrhea often starting on the second day. In most cases, the vomiting is the most frequent in the first day and then resolves or occurs intermittently in the following days.

There is no prescription that will resolve the virus. Parents are urged to have their children drink clear liquids, including Pedialyte electrolyte solution. Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said it is important to sip slowly and not try to drink until 30 minutes after vomiting. If your child can tolerate liquids, then bland foods like crackers, rice and bananas can be tried, she said.

Zimmerman said to watch for signs of hydration in your child, including a wet mouth, tears and urinating every four to six hours. If your child is not urinating at least four times per day, then you should call your doctor immediately.

Following confirmed and suspected cases of the flu in York, Adams and Lancaster counties last week, this week WellSpan Medical Group providers have seen additional suspected flu cases in that same region.

In addition, WellSpan Medical Group providers are now seeing a spike in allergic sinus issues, or sinusitis, possibly related local harvests. For those affected, over-the-counter allergy medication and decongestants may help.

Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics says strep throat is on the rise, along with pneumonia.

They have also continued to see a high number of viral colds, non-strep sore throats, and croup.

With the warm weather perfect for outdoor play, they’ve also diagnosed several concussions this week.

While there have been confirmed cases of the flu in Lancaster County, Roseville doctors have not yet formally diagnosed a flu case.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about sore throats:

“A sore throat is a common manifestation of a strep infection, but it also can cause headaches and belly pain with or without vomiting. In older teens, strep can appear to be almost flu-like in the way it presents.

If a child or teen has two of the three symptoms of a sore throat, belly pain with or without vomiting and headache, they should be tested with a strep swab.

More common viruses, like those that cause the common cold, also can give a bad sore throat. However, these viruses do not typically cause belly pain or nausea.

We would expect a viral pharyngitis to resolve in the same time frame as congestion and other cold symptoms.

Any sore throat that makes it hard to swallow or forces the child to talk in a nasally, slurred voice should be immediately evaluated by a doctor.”

Providers at Summit Health in Cumberland and Franklin counties report continued upper respiratory infections.

These illnesses should be evaluated by a medical professional, they said. While some are simply viruses, others may require an antibiotic.

Providers are urging parents of children to understand the importance of responsible antibiotic use. They said the use and abuse of antibiotics for viral illnesses such as influenza or the common cold has led to strains of bacteria resistant to a variety of often-prescribed antibiotics. As a result, healthcare providers at Summit Health are working to change the way patients think about medications when ill and the way providers prescribe or don’t prescribe when treating a patient.

“People often think that because they were previously prescribed an antibiotic for an illness like bronchitis, they will need it again if they are having the same issue years later,” explained Dr. Stephen Flack, who practices at Summit Primary Care.

Dr. Flack said it’s important to remember antibiotics are effective for treatment of a range of bacterial infections, including strep throat and pneumonia. For viral illnesses such as bronchitis, ear infection or flu, antibiotics aren’t necessary and will not cure the illness or help a person feel better.

“You could have inflammation of the nasal passages, sinusitis for 10 days, but it may be related to a viral problem, not a bacterial issue,” Flack said. “We don’t want to use antibiotics in a case like that.”

Unnecessary use of antibiotics only increases a person’s risk for more serious illness.

“The more antibiotics you take, the more risk you may have for treatment-resistant, ‘super-bug’ bacteria unable to be treated by certain common antibiotics,” he said. “That’s a problem because, at present, there are not a lot of new antibiotics being developed. So, if you use too many of the ones available now and bacteria becomes resistant to those, it gets harder to effectively treat your illness.”

Dr. Flack and other providers are taking steps to prescribe antibiotics only when absolutely necessary and if they are, prescribing them differently.

“Our bodies contain good and bad bacteria. Providers try to choose an antibiotic what will target the specific bacteria making you sick instead of a broad-spectrum antibiotic,” explained Dr. Flack. “That way, the good bacteria is not disrupted.”

“It’s better to be inconvenienced by a short-term, nuisance illness than to potentially become seriously ill if something requiring an antibiotic doesn’t respond to the medication,” Flack continued.

If you do get the flu, providers sometimes prescribe antiviral drugs that can help treat it. In other cases of viral infections, those who are ill can take a number of self-care measures to help feel better:

· Drink fluids
· Rest
· To help alleviate congestion, use a cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray
· To ease throat pain, try crushed ice, spray antiseptics or lozenges. Note: young children should not be given lozenges.

The pediatricians of Penn State Children’s Hospital report seeing a number of patients with asthma who are experiencing some worsening of symptoms due to fall allergens.

They’re also still getting reports of rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, as well as adenovirus and parainfluenza, both of which cause respiratory infections.

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