TMH Living Well: Treating enterovirus 68 and other upper respiratory infections in kids |

TMH Living Well: Treating enterovirus 68 and other upper respiratory infections in kids

The Memorial Hospital

Dr. Kristie Yarmer

Likely you've seen a recent newscast on enterovirus 68. It's an especially aggressive strain of a common set of bugs that cause upper respiratory symptoms each fall in children and adults alike, and it's been especially active in Colorado. This year, the virus morphed into something more severe and less recognizable by our immune systems.

"The news is reporting extraordinary cases. This strain is a little more virulent, but most people who come in contact with this virus will experience only cold-like symptoms. Adults and children with underlying heart, lung or immune system challenges are at a higher risk for developing a more severe infection," said Dr. Kristie Yarmer, pediatrician at TMH Medical Clinic.

The TMH Medical Clinic has seen an increase of patients coming in and being treated with upper respiratory viral infections in the past few months. The clinic doesn't have confirmed cases of enterovirus 68, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been any. The clinic didn't start testing for it right away, as its reach was initially unknown.

"We did see a significant increase in respiratory illnesses in late August and early September with more severity than usual. The number of severe cases has dropped off in the past few weeks. We hope it pushes out of here by the end of October," she added.

Treating upper respiratory infections at home

Fall is a common time for viruses to make their way through communities, especially when school starts and lots of kids are together in one place. Common infections include croup, RSV, the common cold and bugs like the enterovirus.

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Common symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, cough, mild headache, fever early on and feeling tired and ill.

With viral infections, the best treatment is still lots of liquids and rest. Most will run their course in seven to 14 days.

"Run a humidifier or sit with your child in a steaming bathroom throughout the day. With babies, use a bulb syringe along with saline drops to clear mucus. Babies younger than 6 months haven't developed the skill to breathe through their mouths yet, so they need help," Yarmer advised.

When to call your doctor or go in

"A telltale sign that you should bring your child in for a visit is a lasting fever. A temperature of 100.4 is considered a fever. Fevers are common during the first 72 hours of an illness, but if they last longer than that, or start after three to four days of illness, it can mean a secondary infection," Yarmer stated.

Another signal that you need to see your doctor is if your child is having trouble breathing. Signs that young children are having difficulty breathing is an inability to suck a bottle, rapid breathing, retractions — pulling in their stomachs underneath their rib cage — and wheezing.

"I advise parents of babies to use the bulb syringe up to five times a day. If that is not alleviating symptoms, seek medical care even in the middle of the night," she stated.

TMH Suction Clinic clears mucus for babies

TMH started a suction clinic for babies for just these times. A respiratory therapist evaluates your child's breathing then uses a special tool to remove mucus from their nose — getting out much more than a bulb syringe can. The suction clinic is open 24/7 and can be used up to four times a day for a week on one doctor's prescription. For more information on the suction clinic, call 970-824-9411. The cost of $128 can be charged to insurance.

"What's so great about the suction clinic is the peace of mind it gives parents. If our respiratory therapist feels a child is low on oxygen or in respiratory distress, she or she can be seen by an ER doc quickly," Yarmer concludes.

This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig — improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.

Want to learn more about the enterovirus and treating upper respiratory infections?

Come hear what TMH pediatrician Dr. Kristie Yarmer has to say about treating the enterovirus and other common respiratory illnesses. Dr. Yarmer will discuss home treatments and when to seek care from a provider. She’ll teach you what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to fevers and signs of respiratory distress.

What: Community Education Seminar for Parents

Where: The Memorial Hospital Conference Rooms

When: 6 to 7 p.m., Oct. 8

Info: 970-826-3109