Common Winter Illnesses Pediatric Practices Treat

When the temperatures begin to drop during the winter, the immune systems of many people begin to weaken as well. As a result, many people get sick for a few days. With that in mind, it is important that everyone continues to practice good health habits during the season, such as washing hands properly with soap and water.

However, young children with developing immune systems are especially vulnerable to illnesses during the winter, even if they do practice good health habits. If your child begins to exhibit symptoms of any of the following common winter illnesses, be sure to see a pediatrician for treatment as soon as possible:

Strep Throat

Symptoms of strep throat include severe sore throat, pain when swallowing, and swollen neck lymph nodes. Strep throat can be either a bacterial or a viral infection. The only way to tell the cause of strep throat is to visit a pediatrician

Flu

Flu symptoms often include fevers above 101°F, chills, aching muscles, and coughing. If your child exhibits severe flu symptoms, be sure to immediately bring him or her to a pediatrician as your child might have contracted a complication of the flu like pneumonia or bronchitis.

Colds

Cold symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion, overproduction of mucus, coughing, watery eyes, and a mild fever. Standard over-the-counter cold medicines are enough to relieve cold symptoms, although it might be wise to consult a pediatrician before administering them to your child.

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Pediatricians Now Offer Child-Friendly Flu Shot

According to public health officials and experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children six months and older should be vaccinated for the flu. The flu vaccine aims to prevent young children from contracting the sickness, especially since they are the most susceptible to it.

Since many children are afraid of vaccinations because of the needle involved, vaccine makers have removed the needle from the equation and have supplied pediatricians with an effective flu vaccine in the form of a nasal spray. A pediatrician will simply have to spray the formula into the nasal cavity. This type of vaccine is painless.

Although it isn’t guaranteed that a child will not contract the flu if he or she is vaccinated, multiple studies have shown that children who have gotten flu shots experience much milder bouts of flu. Additionally, vaccinated children are much less likely to develop complications such as bronchitis and pneumonia, the leading causes of flu-related death.

If your child has yet to get vaccinated, be sure to bring him or her to a pediatrician as soon as possible. The body typically needs two weeks after receiving the flu shot to create flu antibodies, making it important to get vaccinated early on.

Pediatrics Administer Child-Friendly Flu Vaccines

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control in the United States, more than half of the child population in the country was given flu shots in 2012. Although CDC officials claim that the number has improved compared with that of 2011, a shade above 50 percent is still a low number.

In an effort to keep children protected, many vaccine developers have found new ways to administer flu vaccines:

Nasal Spray

Just as the name suggests, the flu vaccine is administered via a nasal spray. This type of flu vaccine is virtually painless, making it a great option for children who have a phobia of needles.

Egg-Free

There used to be a time when children with egg allergies could not be vaccinated because eggs were a component of flu vaccines. This is no longer the case as vaccine developers have found a way to create egg-free flu vaccines.

Although flu vaccines do not guarantee an impenetrable defense against the flu, studies have shown that people who have had their shots and came down with the flu after that had only very mild symptoms and were able to recover faster than people who were not vaccinated. As the temperatures begin to drop, keep your child protected by having him or her vaccinated at an accredited pediatric clinic.

Don’t Believe the Myths, Get the MMR Vaccine

Before the creation of the MMR vaccine in 1988, measles, mumps, and rubella were common diseases throughout the world. All three diseases were highly contagious and had the ability to develop fatal complications such as meningitis and encephalitis.

Thanks to the MMR vaccine, cases of measles, mumps, and rubella began to drop worldwide. However, just as the vaccine was close to eliminating the diseases, a study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield claiming a relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism in children was published. This sparked a massive controversy as many parents decided to skip immunization shots for their children altogether.

In an effort to confirm the results of Wakefield’s study, many researchers followed Wakefield’s process in an attempt to reproduce his results. Curiously, not a single researcher was able to reproduce Wakefield’s results. This led to a thorough investigation, which revealed that Wakefield had manipulated his study to get the results he wanted.

Although doctors, scientific experts, medical journals, and Wakefield’s colleagues have already disproved the findings of Wakefield’s “study”, many parents still refuse to have their children vaccinated for MMR.

While doctors have acknowledged that the MMR vaccine can still allow children to contract any of the three diseases, the chances of it happening are extremely lower in those who were immunized than in those who weren’t. In the rare case that a person who has gotten the MMR vaccine contracts any of the diseases, the severity will be significantly less, allowing patients to recover much faster.

Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreaks Are Common

Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease is a common childhood illness that causes sores to appear either in or on the mouth of an infected child, as well as in the hands and feet; hence the name. This disease is caused by an enterovirus, and easily spreads via coughing, sneezing, or exposure to infected stool. Due to the various ways that the disease can spread, community outbreaks of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease are a common occurrence.

Not to be confused with Foot-and-Mouth disease, which is common among livestock, Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease symptoms usually appear anywhere from three to seven days after exposure to the enterovirus. After this incubation period, a child may begin to experience a sore throat, fatigue, or a fever. The trademark blisters associated with the disease often appear within a day or two after the onset of the initial symptoms.

Typically, Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease is not a serious illness, with the sores usually disappearing on their own after a week. However, the virus can easily stay in a child’s stool for a few months after symptoms disappear. As such, teaching children to wash their hands properly and often, and covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing can help prevent the rapid spread of the disease.If you suspect that you’re child has Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease, contact your pediatrician for proper diagnosis, and to ask for other tips that can help relieve the discomfort of your child.

Children and Pink Eye

Conjunctivitis, more commonly referred to as pink eye, is one of the more common medical conditions that children experience. Pink eye involves a swelling of the conjunctiva; and can easily be identified by the characteristic reddening of the white of the eye, and by the presence of a colored discharge that often crusts over the eyes. Pink eye can be brought about by a viral or bacterial infection, or from overexposure to an allergen, such as dust.

Pink eye, especially when caused by a virus, is very contagious. A simple touch of an eye can instantly infect a healthy person. As such, parents should impress upon their children the importance of washing their hands before and after touching their eyes, especially if another kid from the child’s school has been diagnosed with pink eye.

Although pink eye is typically not a very serious illness, and usually resolves itself on its own, parents who suspect their child is suffering from pink eye should see a pediatrician to determine the cause of the condition, and if any special treatment is necessary. If the child experiences a sensitivity to light, blurred vision, experiences severe eye pain, or has a weak immune system, he has to be brought to a pediatrician immediately.