A Lesson in Classroom Germs
When students go back to school, parents quickly realize their children step off the bus with more than homework. School is the perfect environment for spreading germs. Centra Care physicians write lots of doctor’s notes for an array of illnesses, but the most common ones are upper respiratory infection (URI), followed by pharyngitis, otitis media, and bronchitis.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
URI is any type of infection of the head and chest caused by a virus. The infection spreads when viruses are passed to others by sneezing, coughing, or by touching something infected by another person.
Symptoms of upper respiratory infection include scratchy or sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, watery eyes, ear congestion, slight fever (99º to 100ºF), fatigue, headache, and loss of appetite.
Pharyngitis (sore throat)
Inflammation of the pharynx is a common medical condition and often a symptom of a URI. Sore throats can come from viruses and the streptococcus bacteria (also known as strep throat). Since symptoms of strep throat and viral sore throats are the same, a doctor will often swab the throat to determine if an antibiotic is needed. If it’s viral, antibiotics won’t help. They do not kill viruses.
Typically, acute bronchitis develops from colds and other URI’s. Symptoms of bronchitis include a dry cough that becomes a cough with mucus, wheezing, fatigue, chest tightness, and a mild fever sometimes accompanied by chills. Because acute bronchitis is bacterial, antibiotics are often prescribed to clear symptoms.
This occurs when the ear lining becomes swollen and fluid builds up, causing ear pain and infection. Symptoms include earache (either a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous pain), fever, and chills, a feeling of fullness in the ear, nausea, muffled hearing, and ear drainage. Nasal congestion may accompany or precede an ear infection. Because complications can result from ear infections, it’s important to see a physician to determine what is causing the earache. If it’s bacterial, antibiotics may be needed.