Healthcare providers are reporting increases in respiratory illnesses among kids. University of Iowa Healthcare pediatrician, Adam Brown, says they are seeing the common flu as well as increases in RSV.
“We have seen a spike in the last several weeks — and it’s not a real common time of year to see that — typically, it’s more in January and February. So that’s a one that we’ll see sicker kids with too,” he says. “So I think a combination of those common cold viruses, plus viruses like RSV, that can be in kids, some kids more severe. I think that’s been the big change this fall.”
Doctor Brown says you can do some things so your child avoids getting infected. “One is families, you know, can use the same measures that we did during COVID-19. So, you know, washing your hands frequently, whether it’s with some water, if you’re able to do so, or hand sanitizer, if you’re on the go. Those are both great options to help prevent transmission of viruses, common cold viruses in particular,” Brown says.
He says cases generally increase when cold weather hits as people are closer together inside. Brown says avoiding those crowds when you can will help. “If you’re going out in public where there’s large crowds, that’s a more likely environment where you could be exposed to viruses, particularly ones we’re seeing right now,” Brown says. “So you kind of kind of plan your day around, going to the store, or going to different events.”
Brown says there are some things you can look for to determine if your child may be infected. “How is your child feeding? How are they drinking? And then do you notice any what we call difficulty breathing? So you know, as your child, do you notice that they’re their chest is moving out really hard when breathing or they have fast breathing. You might notice that their belly goes in now kind of really hard or noticeably, when breathing that’s can be evidence of difficulty or increased work of breathing,” according to Brown.
He says you shouldn’t hesitate to check with your doctor if you think your child is sick. “I think it’s never wrong to call your doctor’s office and ask them say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on with my son or daughter and what do I need to do?’,” he says. “And we can help you figure out whether we need to see them in clinic. And or you can stay at home. And then I think we can also figure if you do bring them in for an appointment, we can also help you figure out hey are they okay?”
Doctor Brown says you can take preventative action by seeing that your child gets the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine. He says those can help not only prevent those diseases, but also keep kids from getting sicker.