What's Going Around The Metro This Week

While colds and the flu may be quite prevalent in winter, there are a number of dangers associated with the warmer months as well. Dr. Mel Roca says in Council Bluff's- he's seeing patients coming in with terrible symptoms of muscle aches and pain, tiredness, stuffy, runny noses with productive coughing. They also have mild fevers. He says with alternating weather patterns from mild warm sunny days to cloudy, rainy wet days, viruses abound and infect the unsuspecting public. Those with seasonal allergies are badly affected. Home treatment is similar during the winter months: plenty of fluids, bed rest and fruit juices full of Vitamin C. Staying warm is also essential although counter intuitive because it's hot out. Those with allergies are best served by keeping their exposure to outside triggers to a minimum. Staying indoors, using the air conditioning, closing windows and doors to limit pollen entry, showering at bed time and after outdoor activities seem to help. Vaporizers help those with severe congestion especially at night. Nasal rinses help as well. Take over-the-counter decongestants as needed as well as antihistamines. Dr. Roca says if you're a smoker, quit smoking and avoid people who do! Wash your hands frequently if you have the summer colds. Hand sanitizers are a must especially if you work with computers with keyboards, and handle phones. Cover your mouth when you cough and avoid infecting others by staying at home if you feel very sick to go work. When to see your doctor? If you have had the following symptoms for more than 2 weeks: persistent coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath and persistent fevers.

Dr. Amy Lacroix in Midtown says she has been seeing a lot of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease in the UNMC Physicians pediatrics clinic this week. This is a viral illness that can cause discreet small red bumps that can sometimes look like blisters on the hands, feet, or sometimes other body parts and painful sores in the mouth. The skin bumps are not painful and do not need treatment. If the mouth sores are painful or if your child has fever, you can use either ibuprofen (if older than 6 months) or acetaminophen to help with symptoms. In older children, your health care provider may be able to prescribe an oral solution to help with mouth pain if it is bothersome. Symptoms usually resolve within a week. Since this is a viral illness, antibiotics are not necessary or useful.

Dr. Steve Sindelar in Bellevue says rashes are common this time of year. Outdoor play in grass and sand can expose kids to many different types of skin irritants. For active kids who are camping out with family and scouts, there's also poison ivy. Dr. Sindelar says there is an ivy block product which may be useful for older kids, especially if they have had a run-in with poison ivy in the past. Follow product instructions when using. If you or the kids do come into contact with poison ivy, the trick is to wash the oil off as soon as possible. The oil triggers the body's reaction. In addition to washing the skin, also wash clothing, jackets, sleeping bags, blankets, anything that the oil may've come into contact with. It can transfer to other materials. This is often why the rash will show up in other spots or why other members of the family develop a rash. The rash itself is not contagious - it's the oil from the poison ivy plant that hasn't been washed away.

A topical anti-itch medication or steroid cream can help relieve the discomfort. It is important to prevent scratching so a secondary infection doesn't develop. If the rash is especially large or severe - call your doctor.

School's out, so some parents are avoiding the last minute rush and getting their kids in for School/Athletic/Camp Physicals. Dr. Robert Beer in West Omaha says although annual exams are recommended for all ages, these required evaluations are what motivate most parents to get their kids in. These "well-child visits" offer kids an opportunity to interact with their doctor and to update their health history and identify any disease risk factors which may require special monitoring. Immunization updates are a dreaded, but important part of the visits, as well.

Nebraska schools require physical exam upon entrance to kindergarten and 7th grade and upon moving to a Nebraska school from another state. Certain immunizations are required, not only to protect the individual, but protect those for whom the vaccines are ineffective for various reasons. Check Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services website for immunization details.

About the Author...
Serese Cole
Serese is no stranger to the Midwest. She was born and raised in Kansas City and after years of moving from state to state - has called Nebraska home the last decade.

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