Ear Infections and How to Spot Them in Your Child

Spotting an Ear Infection in Your ChildNo matter what you do to help keep your child healthy, he or she may be at risk for a common childhood ailment: ear infections. The most common cause of earaches, this type of infection may occur several times throughout childhood. Prompt medical attention is strongly advised, particularly if your child is under six months of age. Here are some tips for spotting this condition in your child.

Be On the Lookout Following An Illness

If your child has recently suffered from an upper respiratory infection, be watchful for any symptoms of an earache. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, ear infections are typically caused by bacteria and may commonly follow a cold or a sore throat. Infected fluid may linger behind the eardrum following an illness, causing inflammation that may lead to severe pain and discomfort.

Ear Infection Symptoms

Very young children are still building their immune symptoms, which is why they may be more susceptible to complications following a cold or other respiratory illness. Additionally, the channels between the ear and throat that drain fluids in adults are more horizontal in children, which can lead to fluid build-up. The chances are that your child’s first upper respiratory infection and subsequent complications will occur before they are old enough to speak. Thankfully, children may use a variety of nonverbal cues to demonstrate that they are not feeling feel. These can include:

  • Ear drainage
  • Trouble hearing
  • Tugging on one or both ears
  • Trouble with balance
  • Poor appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fever

In young children, you should also be on the lookout for vomiting or diarrhea. However, it is important to note that your child may not exhibit one or more of these symptoms. Watch for any changes in behavior, including fussiness, being clingy, or crying more than usual. These behaviors may indicate a possible illness or infection.

When to Seek Medical Help

Although this condition is common in children, it should not be left entirely untreated. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics to prevent the spread of infection in young babies. Antibiotics also may be recommended if your older baby or toddler is experiencing severe symptoms or is not better within two to three days. Mild infections should be monitored closely at home. Children’s pain medicine may help with pain, fever and inflammation, while a warm (not hot) heat pack can help soothe the area.

Pediatric Urgent Care

If you or your child is experiencing symptoms of an ear infection, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. You should also consider seeking medical advice before administering over-the-counter medicine or medicated ear drops to young children. When your child becomes ill, choosing the right medical provider is important; eMedical Urgent Care makes it easy to get the help you need, from pediatric health services to treating sinus infections in adults. Call to learn more about our services in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, and Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.

Strep Throat vs. Sore Throat

Checking Sore Throat, Acute PharyngitisSore throats are common for people of all ages, and particularly in the cooler months as more people are in close contact indoors. Some cases are more problematic than others, especially those caused by bacterial infections. These must be treated promptly with antibiotics to prevent complications and ensure a speedy recovery. How do you know if your bout of acute pharyngitis is just scratchy and short-lived or something more, such as strep throat? Keep reading to discover common symptoms of both.

Causes and Symptoms of Acute Pharyngitis

Common reasons you might develop soreness or hoarseness include:

  • Dry weather
  • Allergies
  • Influenza
  • Other viral infections (such as colds)
  • Bacterial infections

Symptoms are varied but can include pain while swallowing, redness, headache, inflamed nasal passages, swollen tonsils and fever. More severe symptoms can include joint pain, swollen lymph node glands and skin rashes. Left untreated, ear infections or sinusitis could occur.

Treating a Sore Throat

Viral infections are very common and typically do not require medical attention. If your symptoms seem mild, you can treat soreness at home by drinking soothing liquids such as warm tea with honey. As a treat, fruit-flavored popsicles can also help soothe the area. Teenagers and adults can use cough drops or lozenges during the day, or over-the-counter pain medication to help manage symptoms. Winter weather often brings dry air, so consider setting up a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer to keep the air moist. You can include a drop or two of an essential oil such as eucalyptus or lemon to further help open sinus passages.

If your throat pain feels more severe or lingers more than few days, contact a medical professional to identify and treat the cause. In the meantime, try to get plenty of rest and drink more non-caffeinated fluids than usual to stay hydrated.

How to Tell if Your Sore Throat is Strep

Streptococcus is a highly contagious bacterial infection that develops following contact with an infected person. Unfortunately, the symptoms of strep are so similar to other cases of acute pharyngitis that a doctor will not be able to diagnose you without performing a rapid test or throat culture. Without a proper diagnosis, the doctor will not be able to issue antibiotics to treat a possible infection.

However, your soreness could indicate strep if you experience a high fever, a rash or swollen lymph nodes in your neck. You should also contact a doctor when what seems like a typical sore throat does not go away after several days, or if you notice white streaks on the tonsils.

Seek Help Anytime: eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic

If you suspect you or a family member might have strep, visit eMedical Urgent Care walk-in clinic without delay. Our emergency medical physicians provide quick diagnoses and treatment options for both children and adults. We offer convenient hours at both of our locations to better serve your busy schedule and urgent needs. Call to learn more about our services in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis

Signs and Symptoms of Acute BronchitisAcute bronchitis is a form of lower respiratory tract inflammation affecting the bronchi of the lungs. It’s usually not a serious illness and often comes on suddenly from other illnesses such as the cold or flu and is typically fought off by the immune system. However, people with weakened immune systems tend to develop more problems from the illness including seniors, young children, people with other health conditions including cancer or diabetes, and those who have not been immunized for the flu, pneumonia or whooping cough.

What is Acute Bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis, often referred to as a chest cold, is an illness that spreads from the nose and throat, causing swelling and irritation in the windpipe and airways.

Increased Risks

As mentioned above, chest colds often show up in someone with an upper respiratory tract infection resulting from a cold or flu but can be caused by other germs such as bacteria, yeast or fungus. They also can be caused by polluted air (air that has chemical fumes, dust or cigarette smoke); avoiding these lung irritants is important for preventing acute bronchitis as well as treating it. In addition, those who have preceding medical problems may also be more likely to get bronchitis (for example: asthma, frequent swollen tonsils, allergies or heart problems).

Chronic Bronchitis

Typically brought on by cigarette smoking, chronic bronchitis (a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD) affects more than 12 million Americans. “Chronic” means that the condition can last a long time – typically longer than 3 months.

Acute Bronchitis in Children

This inflammation in the bronchioles usually affects children under the age of 2 with a peak age of 3 to 6 months. Babies who are premature may be at a higher risk for bronchitis.

Symptoms of Acute Bronchitis

At first, symptoms may look a lot like the symptoms of the common cold starting with a runny nose and slight fever for a few days. The most common sign of acute bronchitis includes a constant cough which may be dry or include green, yellow, white or bloody mucus as well as chest pain that accompanies the cough or that is felt with a deep breath. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Body aches & headache
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Short of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Watery eyes

How Long Does Acute Bronchitis Last?

Acute bronchitis typically lasts 2 to 3 weeks but the cough may linger for up to a couple of months (smokers take much longer to recover). Chronic bronchitis keeps coming back cumulatively lasting up to three months of the year for two years in a row.

Is Bronchitis Contagious?

One of the top burning questions searched for in Google last year: “Is bronchitis contagious?” The infection, which involves the upper respiratory tract is usually viral and considered contagious. However, the complication of the infection, bronchitis, is not contagious.

Treatment

Patients can alleviate some of the symptoms by getting plenty of rest, drinking clear fluids and inhaling moist air (via a humidifier, steam shower, etc.). If you have overwhelming chest pain, wheezing and breathing difficulty, blood or yellow/green sputum in your mucus, or any of these along with a fever over 101°F, you should be evaluated by a physician. If you are wheezing, you may receive an inhaled medication (Albuterol or Xopenex) which can help open inflamed bronchial tubes. Note: antibiotics are not useful in the treatment of bronchitis.

eMedical Urgent Care has convenient hours designed to fit your busy schedule. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

Sore Throat Season: Is it Strep? Do I Need Antibiotics?

By eMedical Urgent Care

You’ve tried to ignore it, but every swallow is a chore. You’ve got that big project at work, so there’s no time to be sick. How do you know when a sore throat requires medical attention – or just some hot tea and some R&R?

Sore throat, also known as pharyngitis or tonsillitis, is a frequent complaint that brings patients to the urgent care center. I’m going to explain the causes and symptoms of sore throats. To treat them, urgent care centers are a convenient option to get the medical attention you need to get you back to feeling better.

Causes of Sore Throats
Up to 60 percent of sore throats are caused by viruses. The most common of these are adenoviruses, coxsackieviruses, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegaloviruses and herpes simplex viruses.

The second-most popular type is “strep” throat, which is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GABHS). Only 5 to 15 percent of adults and 15 to 30 percent of children with sore throats actually have strep throat.
Other less frequent causes of a sore throat are fungal infections (oral thrush or candidiasis), HIV-1 infection in the acute phase and gonorrhea. Non-infectious causes of sore throat include heartburn or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergies, post-nasal drip, chemical injuries and smoking.

Symptoms of Strep Throat
Strep throat most commonly occurs in children aged 5 to 15 years old in the fall and early spring. This usually happens after children come in contract with someone who is infected, like in a classroom or daycare facility, or a family gathering.

Classic symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sudden onset
  • White patches and pus on the throat and tonsils
  • A fever greater than 101˚
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Tender and swollen lymph nodes in neck
  • Headache
  • Chills and shakes alternating with cold sweats

In children, the above symptoms can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain.

Symptoms of a Virus
Signs that the sore throat is caused by a virus include:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Sneezing

Testing and Treatment of Sore Throats
Doctors use several methods to determine if a sore throat is in fact strep throat. One of the most reliable methods is the rapid strep test. This test is quick and accurate, and allows treatment to start immediately following a positive result.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors perform both a traditional throat culture and a rapid strep test on children. Although it takes 1 to 2 days to get results from a throat culture, because children are more likely to develop strep throat, this dual-testing method provides the most accurate diagnosis.

While only a fraction of adults and children with sore throats nationwide actually have GABHS bacterial infections, more than 75 percent are prescribed antibiotics. This practice leads to resistant bacteria, meaning the infection doesn’t improve because it’s gotten used to antibiotics, as well as side effects from treatment, including allergic reactions, diarrhea and yeast infections. Our doctors use rapid strep testing and throat cultures, and follow guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of GABHS set by the Infectious Disease Society of America.

Strep throat responds well to penicillin. It can be given as a single dose injection or in pill form. Other prescription options include amoxicillin, cephalexin and azithromycin. To help relieve the pain and swelling of the throat, your doctor also may prescribe a single dose of dexamethasone, a steroid which is an anti-inflammatory, either by injection or by mouth.

Strep Throat Shouldn’t Be Ignored
GABHS pharyngitis will improve in a few days even if not treated with antibiotics, but we treat patients so that they feel better faster and are less contagious to others. If left untreated, strep throat can put you at risk for developing rheumatic fever, which can damage the heart valves. Another rare but serious complication is acute glomerulonephritis, an injury to the kidney, which can occur regardless of treatment.
If you are on antibiotics and aren’t feeling better or if you’ve developed a rash, jaundice or abdominal pain, contact your doctor immediately, as this might indicate Epstein Barr virus or mononucleosis infection.

In most cases, with proper evaluation and treatment, sore throats can be treated quickly and easily, often without antibiotics.

If you need medical attention for a non-life-threatening illness or injury, eMedical Urgent Care is open during the evening hours to treat walk-in patients. If you have questions about medical conditions, download iTriage from the iTunes or Android Marketplace, or check out iTriageHealth.com for your healthcare answers.