What’s Going Around: respiratory issues could be attributed to recent weather

This week, WellSpan Medical Group providers are seeing more upper respiratory infections and asthma cases. Providers believe the recent change in weather may be a contributing factor to both conditions.

Over-the-counter allergy medication, decongestants and sinus washes may help with upper respiratory infections. For more information on asthma and asthma care, click here.

Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics saw a large number of viral colds with fevers in all age groups.

They have continued to see moderate numbers of ear infections, which come along with viral illnesses. They also saw an increase in sore throats, and among those cases, a proportional increase of strep cases, compared to viral sore throats.

Croup cases in younger kids remained consistent with last week, so croup is definitely still going around, they said.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about fevers:

“Treatment of fevers with Tylenol or ibuprofen is based on comfort of the child, not the number of degrees.

Taking away the fever can make a child feel better and become more likely to drink and stay hydrated. However, if your child has a 103-degree fever and is otherwise happily playing or eating, it is not imperative to treat the fever. The body will not “cook” itself to a deadly level; rather it is using the higher temperature to make it harder for a virus or bacteria to survive, thus helping the immune system win the battle.

The aim during a fever is hydration and comfort for your child.

All fevers lasting five consecutive days should be evaluated by a physician in the office and likely will involve additional testing.”

Thode also offered the following reminder to parents of younger children:

“As the weather becomes colder, it’s typical to break out the puffy coats and jackets to keep our kids warm. But puffy coats are dangerous when worn in a car seat or booster seat, because they prevent the full tightening of the car seat straps or seat belt against the child’s body.

In an accident, the velocity of the child’s body will quickly compress the volume of the coat, and the extra space between the child’s body and the straps will allow for more body movement, increased injuries and possibly even ejection from the seat.

It’s best to place your child snugly in the seat in their indoor clothing and lay the coat or a blanket on their lap to keep them warm. When you reach your destination, the coat can be put on once the child is out of the car seat.”

UPMC Pinnacle’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill reports that bronchiolitis remains a high concern.

“One of the viruses that causes bronchiolitis is RSV and another is influenza,” Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said. “If your child has not received an influenza vaccine yet they should get one as soon as possible. It takes about two weeks for the body to build up immunity after the vaccine.”

Bronchiolitis affects mostly babies and younger children. It starts as a typical cold the first few days with a lot of nasal congestion and nasal discharge and sometimes a fever. Then after a few days to a week, the cough becomes deeper and wheezing begins.

Wheezing is caused by a tightening and inflammation of the airways. This can result in fast, shallow breathing, a whistling sound with breathing, and coughing spells. If your child is showing any of these signs, call your medical provider.

Treatment for bronchiolitis is supportive; there is not a medicine that will make it resolve faster. However younger children and babies can worsen to the point of needing to go to the hospital because of low oxygen levels or respiratory distress. So if you think your child is wheezing, be sure to call immediately.

Prevention is difficult because these viruses are spread through the air and can be easily picked up in public enclosed places such as grocery stores, offices, church, airplanes. If you have any of these symptoms, you should avoid going to public places as much as possible.

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