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Spring has Sprung!

Hello NAP families,

We hope you have all been enjoying the warmer (but rainy) spring weather, celebrating holidays with loved ones, having some nice getaways April vacation, and romping through the amazing Valley wilderness! We wanted to give a few quick reminders about some health issues to be aware of with the change of seasons.

First, our old friend the tick has come out of hibernation. We have been getting many calls about tick bites already and anticipate many more to come! In general, the best defense against tick-borne diseases is preventing tick bites (light weight long sleeves and pants, hats, and deet-containing insect repellant when out in wooded or grassy areas) and daily tick checks to remove embedded ticks as quickly as possible. Remember, the longer a tick is embedded, the more likely it is to transmit diseases. Deer ticks are the main culprits in our area, fortunately dog ticks do not carry the same risk.

If your child has an embedded deer tick that is engorged (swollen), or likely to have been on them for > 36 hours, it is recommended that they take a single dose of doxycycline to help prevent possible Lyme disease. We do not routinely recommend sending ticks in for testing of diseases as the result of these tests will not change how we manage your child. Other symptoms of Lyme to watch for are the classic “bulls eye rash” that develops and expands days to weeks after a bite, typically near the area of the bite. (This is different than the area of redness from the bite itself, up to the size of a nickel, that can last 1-2 weeks and is not a sign of Lyme disease.) Children with Lyme may also develop flu like symptoms with prolonged fevers, headache, and body aches. Please call the office to schedule an appointment if you are concerned about potential Lyme symptoms. Remember, we are unable to diagnose and treat illnesses through the patient portal so scheduling an appointment will be the quickest way to have your concerns addressed.

Seasonal allergies have also returned with a vengeance! This is always a confusing time for us in pediatrics trying to determine if a child’s runny nose is due to allergies or an illness. Typically, allergy symptoms are mainly in the head and neck – itchy/watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, headache – and not deep in the chest. Also, allergies do not cause a fever. This may be helpful in trying to tell the two apart. Good ways to limit the effect of allergies on your child is to wash their hands and face after playing outside to remove pollen, keeping windows shut at night so pollen doesn’t come into their room while they are sleeping, and using an antihistamine like Claritin or Zyrtec. For older children, you can also add Flonase nasal spray or Ketotifen eye drops. Please contact our office if you have any questions about how to best care for your child.

The other illnesses we continue to see a lot of in our Acute Care area are strep throat and the stomach bug (gastroenteritis). Strep throat is caused by a bacteria and usually causes a very sore throat but can also show up in younger kids as having a headache and stomachache. This needs to be diagnosed by our office before an antibiotic can be prescribed. If you think your child has strep throat, please call us to schedule an appointment in our Acute Care area or a virtual visit with a follow up parking lot swab. The stomach bug is caused by a virus and is treated with supportive care. Keeping your child hydrated is the most important part. You can offer small sips of fluid slowly throughout the day to try to prevent vomiting and let the fluid trickle in. Popsicles are also a nice way to achieve this. If your child is unable to keep any fluid down, has fewer than 2 urinations in a day, or seems very tired or weak, they should be seen in our office for an evaluation.

Finally, for our patients who have ADHD treated with medication, there continues to be significant shortages of many of these medications nationwide. We are getting a lot of calls from families requesting a prescription be sent to a different pharmacy because the first pharmacy did not have it in stock. We are happy to help with this but ask that you please first call to make sure the alternative pharmacy does have your medication in stock, and then call or message our office with the new pharmacy information. This will lead to your child getting their medication as soon as possible as delays can happen every time you request a repeat prescription to be sent.

Happy spring, everyone!

Northampton Area Pediatrics