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Enterovirus and Respiratory Infections

Enterovirus are small RNA viruses that can cause illnesses such as colds; meningitis; hand, foot and mouth disease; hypoxia; hemorrhagic conjunctivitis; myopericarditis; rashes; herpangina; pleurodynia; and respiratory infections. The virus can make you feel like you have a cold. If severe, it could also make you wheeze or have trouble breathing, especially if you have asthma or other respiratory illnesses.

Most cases are mild and last about a week, but if it’s severe, you may need to go to the hospital. To help protect your family this fall, here is an overview of the Enterovirus symptoms, treatment and prevention tips.

What are the Symptoms?

Enterovirus can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, especially if your child has asthma. Common signs and symptoms may include:

  • Respiratory and/or gastrointestinal symptoms or just flu-like symptoms (fevers, body ache, headache, etc.).
  • Upper respiratory tract symptoms such as runny and stuffy nose, sinus congestion and pain, sore throat, ear pain, difficulty in swallowing, loss of smell or taste.
  • Upper and lower gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, indigestion, reflux, abdominal bloating, upper and lower abdominal pain, cramps, constipation alternating with diarrhea.
  • Bone, muscle, and/or joint pain. Foot pain is quite common.
  • Chest pain, palpitations, and tightness
  • Cough, shortness of breath, wheezing
  • Heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) or tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Intermittent low grade fever, chills, and night sweats.

If your child has asthma, take some steps to prepare in case he or she catches Enterovirus. CDC recommends you to do the following to help maintain control of your child’s asthma during Enterovirus season, which occurs each year during summer and fall:

  • Discuss and update your child’s asthma action plan with his or her doctor.
  • Make sure your child takes his or her prescribed asthma medications as directed.
  • Make sure your child has his or her asthma reliever medication at all times.
  • Get your child a flu vaccine, since flu and other respiratory infections can trigger an asthma attack.
  • If your child develops new or worsening asthma symptoms, follow the steps of his or her asthma action plan. If symptoms do not go away, call your child’s doctor right away.
  • Make sure caregivers and/or teachers are aware of the child’s condition, and that they know how to help if the child experiences any symptoms related to asthma.
  • Call your child’s doctor if he or she is having difficulty breathing, if you feel you are unable to control symptoms, or if symptoms are getting worse.

What is the Treatment?

There is no medicine or antiviral treatment or vaccine for Enterovirus infections. The best care is provided through supportive measures. Fluid hydration and antipyretics are the mainstays of care for viral syndrome.

The treatment available is determined by the symptoms present. Painful hand, food, and mouth disease are treated with an equal mixture of Benadryl and Maalox liquid. Vomiting and diarrhea are treated with fluids to prevent dehydration. Promethazine or Zofran can be prescribed to control nausea and vomiting during an office visit if the vomiting is severe. More serious symptoms such as meningitis or encephalitis, and myocarditis require immediate medical attention.

How to Protect Your Family from Enterovirus

To help avoid catching and spreading Enterovirus, here are basic steps to stay healthy.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Washing hands thoroughly is the safest way to stay healthy. See Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils, with people who are sick.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick and keep sick children out of school.

Schedule a Consultation

Infections with Enterovirus are common in summer and fall. Most commonly caused by respiratory illnesses, precautions can be taken to protect your family from catching and spreading Enterovirus. To get you started, discuss and review your treatment options in order find the perfect option for you and your loved ones. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla today.

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