Local doctor talks prevention, treatment
Flu season is here among other colds and viruses floating around. However, there are steps that can be taken to prevent the spread of the illnesses.
Dr. Michael Ulich of Minden Pediatrics suggests using fist bumps instead of handshakes and handwashing as great ways to prevent the spread of viruses.
“Continually wash your hands. Actually just a mild soap and warm water does well. Hand sanitizers are nice and convenient so you can use them on the go,” Ulich explained.
He also suggests school-age children change their clothes and wash their hands and face when coming from school, especially before playing with younger siblings.
For those who have already gotten a bug there are several tips. Number one, do not double up on medicines that have the same active ingredient.
“It’s important that a lot of cold medicines have a lot of the same active ingredients. You can really overdose an adult or a child by giving the same ingredients even though they’re different brands of cough or cold medicine,” Ulich said.
Ulich also says most cough and cold medicines are not approved for children under 6 years old, so be sure to check the label.
“A lot of it is symptomatic treatment. My big thing is a cold should last 3 – 5 days by that third to fifth day that fever should be breaking,” Ulich said.
If there is still fever, Ulich says patients should go to the doctor.
“I think some people, depending on the age of the child too, come prematurely to the doctor’s office. They get a little runny nose and a cough and they’re running to the doctor,” Ulich said, “The guidelines are about 3-5 days and if your child is not getting better, even with a low-grade fever, bring them in. Usually anything under 102.3 is considered low-grade fever.”
Ulich says if a child is under one year old, parents should take a low grade fever more seriously and schedule an appointment.
Underdosing children with medicine is a problem Ulich sees in his practice.
“Everytime you go into your doctor’s office, especially with children, find out the correct Tylenol dosage for their weight because as they’re growing. A lot of parents are under-dosing their children. They’re giving them Tylenol but the fever is not coming down. They might be able to give them more Tylenol and the Tylenol would work better. It’s really important to ask what does my child need for Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Benadryl,” Ulich said.
Minden Pediatrics has new testing this season that can identify the type of virus including flu and rhinovirus within the office. Testing that once took 3-5 days to get results back is done in the office and results are available in an hour or two.
“Even my parents will come in and say, Oh Doc, I’ve got this cold for a few days and a little bit of stomach ache and now my kid’s got it. They went to the doctor and got a steroid shot and antibiotics. I wind up swabbing the babies nose and find no, we don’t need a steroid or antibiotics. We just need symptomatic treatment like cough medicine and making sure our babies or children are hydrated. It really cuts down our use of antibiotics and steroids. Which in the long term will help,” Ulich explained.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu shot for every adult and child over the age of six months. In the United States, peak flu season is usually November through March.