Plum Creek Medical - Closer to Home ... Committed to Caring Since 1987


published on 12-18-2008

KIDS' KORNER…by David C. Simon, M.D., pediatrician

The cold…flu…upper respiratory season is here!
simon_d_001_3x_150Dr. Simon, "How do I keep my child from catching all this stuff?" "Why don’t you get sick when you are around colds and flu all the time?" As parents you ask good questions. The answers, however, are not so simple. The reason now that I do not catch most of these diseases is that I came down with them all early in my pediatric training and now I am immune to most childhood viruses. Next, I wash my hands between each patient which reduces the chance of my catching the infection and passing the virus onto my next patient. For your child the answer is more difficult, but here are a few tips: Avoid nurseries, daycare, and crowded places with your newborn infant for the first two months of life if at all possible; do not send your child to school if she/he is ill…be kind to their classmates; have your child wash his/her hands before eating or putting fingers near mouth or nose; provide your child with an antibacterial like Purell to use periodically at school. You might submit a request to your child’s school or day care center and ask them to install hand sanitizer dispensers in each classroom. I personally believe that if each student would wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer at each class break that we could reduce the spread of many common diseases by 25-50 percent.
Below I have listed just a few respiratory illnesses about which you should be aware:

Asthma (Reactive Airway Disease) complicated by a respiratory infection
is a combination that can be serious with mucous trapping in the airways, decreased oxygen concentration in the blood with possible pneumonia. Start his/her asthma medications immediately and come to our office…we will perform an oxygen saturation test (painless and quick), review and probably upgrade medications, consider a chest X-ray and instruct your child/you on the use of a peak flow meter (a simple gadget that helps monitor asthma medications at home) and can provide you with a home instruction packet of information.

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) bronchiolitis
is more than a simple cold. It occurs most frequently under the age of 2 between the months of November and April. See one of us if your child has: Fast or difficult breathing, wheezing, thick gray/yellow/green nasal discharge, lips or skin are gray or blue, high fever, listlessness or your child is unusually fatigued with a "wet or tight" cough . RSV is frequently mistaken for asthma.

Influenza or "flu"
- most of you know the symptoms…cough, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, runny nose, sore throat…which in a younger child (under that age of 2 or 3) may appear as a common cold. Influenza usually occurs between December and March and is treatable with an anti-influenza medication if diagnosed within 72 hours of the presenting symptoms. The flu can cause a severe pneumonia. We recommend that all children 6 months of age and older get the flu vaccine. Call us to schedule you child’s "flu" injection. Parents…YOU TOO NEED YOUR "FLU" VACCINE.

Unfortunately, the younger the child, the more difficult it is to discern the differences between the aforementioned respiratory infections due to (a) the child’s inability to give an accurate illness history and (b) the symptoms frequently seem to blend together in younger children. Listening to the chest and a few simple tests in the office can clarify the diagnosis so as to provide the best treatment.

I do hope you have a blessed and meaningful 2009.

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