The warmer weather is ushering in summer viruses. I check the weather every day and not only are 90+ million people bathed in triple digit temperatures, there are a lot of “hot” and nauseated children I have been seeing in my office!
With winter long gone, summer viruses which have been lying dormant are “rearing their angry heads”. I think the most likely culprit for much of the illness we are seeing right now is an enteroviral infection. For some reason, it makes us parents feel better if we can “name that tune”. Enteroviral infections typically cause a non-specific febrile illness and with that you can see fairly high fever. In other words, just like the thermometer in 20+ states today, 101-104 degrees is not uncommon in these patients. Remember the mantra, “fever is our friend”. I think it is almost worse to have a high fever in the summer as you are even more uncomfortable because it is so hot! With that being said, if your child has a fever, don’t bundle them up with layers of clothes and blankets. It is perfectly acceptable to have your younger child in a diaper and t-shirt, and older children can be in sundress or shorts rather than long sleeves and pants. Bundling may increase the body temperature, even while you are driving to the doctor’s office. I often come into a room with a precious baby who is running a fever and they are wrapped in blankets, let them out! That hot body needs to breathe. These summer enteroviruses may cause other symptoms as well as fever, so many kids right now seem to have sore throats and are also vomiting and having diarrhea. With this type of virus you also hear complaints of headaches. The kids I am seeing don’t look especially sick, but they do feel pretty yucky! So, besides treating their fevers, treat their other symptoms. If they are vomiting do not give them anything to eat and start giving them frequent sips of liquids such as Pedialyte (for the younger ones) and Gatorade or even sprite or ginger ale. Small volumes are the key. I often use pieces of Popsicle or spoonfuls of a Slurpee to get fluids in kids. I always tried to pick drink colors for my own kids that were easier to clean up, in case they were going to vomit again, so no bright red! The cold fluids may also help to soothe a sore throat. Once the vomiting has stopped, and it is usually no more than 12-24 hours, you can start feeding small amounts of food, but I would steer away from any dairy for a day or two. Again, nothing worse than thinking your child is over vomiting, fixing them I nice milkshake (comfort food) and seeing that thrown up! Many a mother has come into my office wanting to strip after being vomited on, in a hot car no less. I don’t think there is a car wash around that can fully get rid of that smell! Most enteroviral infection last anywhere from 2-5 days. There are many different enteroviruses too, so you can get more than one infection. Your child should stay home from the pool, summer school, camp, day care etc. until they have been fever free for 24 hours. For an older child this might be a good time to get a head start on the summer reading! That’s your daily dose for today. We’ll chat again tomorrow.