Viral illnesses increase as kids head back to school

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UPMC Pinnacle’s Heritage Pediatrics reports seeing a lot of children with symptoms of anxiety as school has started. The start of school year is exciting but can also cause stress in children for a few reasons.
 
1. Children often spend more time with their parents in the summer, including longer nights and more time at home or on vacation. The transition back to school can make them feel homesick or experience separation anxiety.
 
2. They worry about grades and homework.
 
3. They worry about who their friends will be, worry about bullies, or worry they may have a “mean” teacher.

 

Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman offers the following advice:
 
“It’s important for parents to recognize the signs of stress and anxiety because everyone can act differently.  Some children will act out and be irritable  Some may seem more quiet or distracted. Many children will have physical symptoms such as belly pain or headaches or fatigue.
 
Parents should talk to their child before school starts to open the door for conversation about their worries. Often just talking about it makes them feel better. 

Parents should avoid keeping their child home from school, even if they have some minor symptoms. Once children miss school for anxiety, it is often much harder to get them to go back to school.

Write out a schedule with your child for the week and a plan something for them to look forward to after the school day.
 
For most children, once they’ve been in school for a few weeks, they build confidence and familiarity with their routine and the anxiety lessens. If your child does not seem to improve or if they are refusing to go to school, see their doctor as soon as possible. The sooner school anxiety is managed the quicker it will resolve.”
 
Providers at the CVS MinuteClinic in York said they continue to see wellness and vaccine visits as well as an uptick of sick visits.

 

Visits for stings and contact dermatitis, including poison ivy, viral sore throats, conjunctivitis and one case of pneumonia.

 

Stings are generally treated with over-the-counter medications to relieve itching, pain and swelling.  Ice, anti-histamines, pain medications and sometimes topical steroids can be used to relieve symptoms.

 

Contact dermatitis is typically treated with topical or oral steroids, anti-histamines and over-the-counter products to soothe the skin.

 

Viral sore throats are treated with over-the-counter medications, gargles, and lozenges to help with pain and healing.

 

Community acquired pneumonia is treated with oral antibiotics and cough medications and over-the-counter pain medications as needed for discomfort and fever.

 

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics saw a steady increase in viral pharyngitis, as well as strep throat cases.

 

Viral illnesses, with or without fever, were seen in greater numbers as kids went back to school and shared all of their germs.

 

Hand, foot and mouth virus continues to make the rounds in daycares. Also in the younger age group, croup is on the rise.

 

Roseville saw a bump in the number of asthma exacerbations, more than half of which were related to a concurrent cold.
 
Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice on flu shots:

 

“The other thing that’s ‘going around’ the LG Health system is flu shots. The CDC put out a statement this week that suggests that kids and adults alike should strive to have their flu shots by the end of October. This ensures the conferred immunity by the beginning of November, which is often when the flu starts to hit hard. It takes about two weeks after a vaccine to have immunity.

 

Some other important flu shot facts:
-Egg allergy is not a contraindication to get the flu shot.
-During the first year that a baby or child gets the flu shot, they will need a second booster dose at least one month after the first. After that year, they will need only one flu shot per season.
-Babies can get the flu shot as early as six months of age.”
 
Geisinger Holy Spirit Primary Care in Cumberland County reports fevers, sore throats, coughing associated with upper respiratory colds, rashes, bug bites and sports injuries.

 

With the continuing heat and humidity impacting central Pennsylvania, WellSpan Medical Group providers are seeing heat-related illnesses as well as outdoor activity-related injuries such as sprains and strains.
 
WellSpan providers recommend having drinking water available for all outdoor activities; keeping cool or limiting time outdoors during extremely hot or humid days; and for those who participate in sports, to consider a sports drink to help replace electrolytes. However, those with diabetes should keep a close eye on the sport’s drink sugar content.
 
Heat-related illnesses are often caused or made worse by dehydration and fatigue. Exercising during hot weather and working outdoors increase the risk for experiencing a heat-related illness. Drinking alcohol also increases your risk of dehydration. Home treatment is usually all that is needed to treat mild heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps. However, more serious issues, such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke, need immediate medical treatment and in some cases can be life-threatening.

 

This week, providers at Penn State Children’s Hospital and Penn State Health Medical Group in Camp Hill have been seeing some cases of strep throat, along with a lot of bug bites, particularly mosquito bites.

 



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