What to look for and how to deal with each of the more common health problems is the topic of Health Mart Pharmacy’s Christine Jacobson on Studio 5
Symptoms of swine flu are like regular flu symptoms and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have diarrhea and vomiting with swine flu. Those symptoms can also be caused by many other conditions. Lab tests can determine whether it’s swine flu.
If you only have mild flu symptoms and you’re not at high risk, you don’t need medical attention unless you begin feeling worse. High risk populations (pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, young children, and elderly people) should check with health care providers immediately at the first sign of flu-like symptoms.
It’s important children get urgent medical care if they have trouble breathing, aren’t taking liquids, aren’t waking up, have severe or persistent vomiting, are very irritable, have flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough, have fever with a rash, or have fever and then have a seizure or sudden mental or behavioral change.
The CDC recommends:
• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Or, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
• Avoid close contact with sick people.
• Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Stay home, and when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Afterward, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
Keep informed of what’s going on in your community. Local health departments have important information on understanding and handling flu in your location. Parents should also plan how to work with their school should the H1N1 flu appear.
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Pinkeye or conjunctivitis is redness and inflammation of the clear membranes covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids. Often it’s caused by a virus or bacterial infection. But allergies, toxic agents, and other diseases can also play a role.
Pinkeye is extremely contagious. Spread through poor hand washing or by sharing objects with someone who has it, it can also spread through coughing and sneezing. Your child should stay home from school for a short time.
Red eyes are the main symptom of pinkeye. Though it’s a common condition, it’s rarely serious and won’t cause eye or vision damage, especially if you take care of it quickly. Bacterial pinkeye usually affects both eyes. Viral pinkeye usually starts in one eye then moves to the other eye within a few days.
Swelling eyelids is a common symptom with bacterial and allergic pinkeye. You have an itchy, burning feeling in the eyes. Bacterial pinkeye is treated with antibiotic eyedrops, ointment, or pills to clear the infection. Viral pinkeye has no treatment — just let the virus run its course, usually four to seven days.
Lice are tiny insects that live on humans and feed on blood. When a large number of lice live and multiply on a person, it is called an infestation. Lice spread easily from one person to another through close contact or through shared clothing or personal items (such as hats or hairbrushes). A louse cannot jump or fly.
The most common symptom of lice is itching. There are different symptoms, depending on which type of lice you have.
• Head lice may not cause any symptoms at first. Itching on the scalp may start weeks or even months after lice have started to spread. Scratching can make the skin raw. The raw skin may ooze clear fluid or crust over, and it may get infected.
• Pubic lice cause severe itching. Their bites may cause small marks that look like bruises on the torso, thighs, or upper arms. If pubic lice get on the eyelashes, the edges of the eyelids may be crusted. You may see lice and their eggs at the base of the eyelashes.
• Body lice cause very bad itching, especially at night. Itchy sores appear in the armpits and on the waist, torso, and other areas where the seams of clothes press against the skin. The lice and eggs may be found in the seams of the person’s clothing but are generally not seen on the skin.
Scratching could cause a skin infection. In the most severe cases of head lice, hair may fall out, and the skin may get darker in the areas infested with lice.
A doctor can usually tell if you have lice by looking closely for live lice or eggs in your hair. He or she may look at the lice or eggs under a microscope to be sure.
Your doctor can also find pubic lice and body lice by looking closely at your body or your clothing.
Treatment comes from either an over-the-counter preparation or a prescription cream, lotion, or shampoo. You put it on the skin or scalp to kill the lice and eggs. In some cases, you may need treatment a second time to make sure that all the eggs are dead. If two or more treatments don’t work, your doctor may prescribe a pill called ivermectin.
Head lice are usually found in hair, mostly on the back of the neck and behind ears. Common in pre-school and elementary school age. Pubic lice may also be found on facial hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, armpits, chest hair and rarely on the scalp. Body lice live and lay eggs (called nits) in clothing seams. They are on the body only when they feed.
Cold Sores or Impetigo
Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection, causing red sores that can break open, ooze fluid, and develop a yellow-brown crust. These sores can occur anywhere on the body but most often appear around the mouth and nose. It’s one of the most common skin infections in children. Impetigo is contagious and can be spread to others through close contact or by sharing towels, sheets, clothing, toys, or other items. Scratching can also spread the sores to other parts of the body.
Impetigo is caused by one of two kinds of bacteria-strep (streptococcus) or staph (staphylococcus). Often these bacteria enter the body when the skin has already been irritated or injured because of other skin problems such as eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, chickenpox, burns, or cuts. Children may get impetigo after they have had a cold or allergies that have made the skin under the nose raw. However, impetigo can also develop in completely healthy skin.
Your child may have impetigo if he or she has sores:
• On the skin, especially around the nose or mouth. The sores begin as small red spots, then change to blisters that eventually break open. The sores are generally not painful, but they may be itchy.
• That ooze fluid and look crusty. Sores often look like they have been coated with honey or brown sugar.
• That increase in size and number. Sores may be as small as a pimple or larger than a coin.
Your health care provider can usually diagnose impetigo just by looking at your child’s skin. Sometimes your doctor will gently remove a small piece of a sore to send to a lab in order to identify the bacteria. If you or your child have other signs of illness, your doctor may order blood or urine tests.
Impetigo is treated with antibiotics. For more serious impetigo, a doctor may also prescribe antibiotic pills. After three days of treatment, your child should begin to get better. A child can usually return to normal activities after 48 hours of treatment. If you apply the ointment or take the pills exactly as prescribed, most sores will be completely healed in 1 week.
At home, you should gently wash the sores with soap and water before you apply the medicine. If the sores are crusty, soak them in warm water for 15 minutes, scrub the crusts with a washcloth to remove them, and pat the sores dry. Do not share washcloths, towels, pillows, sheets, or clothes with others and be sure to wash these items in hot water before you use them again.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection in the throat and the tonsils. The throat gets irritated and inflamed, causing a sudden, severe sore throat. It’s caused by streptococcal (strep) bacteria and there are many different types of strep bacteria. Some cause more serious illness than others.
Although some people are quick to think that any painful sore throat is strep, sore throats are usually caused by a viral infection and not strep bacteria. A sore throat caused by a virus can be just as painful as strep throat. But if you have cold symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or a runny or stuffy nose, you probably do not have strep throat.
The most common symptoms of strep throat are:
• A sudden, severe sore throat.
• Pain when you swallow.
• Fever over 101F.
• Swollen tonsils and lymph nodes
• White or yellow spots on the back of a bright red throat.
You may also have a headache and belly pain. Less common symptoms are a red skin rash, vomiting, not feeling hungry, and body aches.
Strep throat can be passed from person to person. When a person who has strep throat breathes, coughs, or sneezes, tiny droplets with the strep bacteria go into the air. If you come into contact with strep, it will take 2 to 5 days before you start to have symptoms.
The doctor does a physical exam, ask and does a rapid strep test to diagnose strep throat. Sometimes another test, called a throat culture, is also needed.
If the rapid strep test says that you don’t have strep (the test is negative) but your symptoms suggest that you do, your doctor may want to do a throat culture to be sure. This is because rapid strep tests are not always accurate. To do a throat culture, the doctor will swab a sample of cells from the back of your throat. The sample will go into a special cup (culture) where the strep bacteria can grow over time. If strep bacteria grow, the doctor knows that you have strep.
If the rapid strep test is positive and says that you do have strep, there’s no need to do the throat culture. Strep throat will go away in 3 to 7 days with or without treatment. Doctors usually treat strep throat with antibiotics even though they may not make you well faster. Antibiotics shorten the time you are able to spread the disease to others (are contagious) and lower the risk of spreading the infection to other parts of your body.
For these and other health issues for your children, be sure to check with your personal health care provider or pharmacist. Your local Health Mart Pharmacist can help. Go to www.healthmart.com for a location near you.