ROCHESTER, Minn. ― Upper respiratory infections are a common occurrence this time of year. Seasonal cases of influenza, strep throat and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) have increased over the past few weeks, especially among children. At the same time, COVID-19 remains active in the community.
"Most children with upper respiratory infections will have a mild illness, including cold-like symptoms, fever and cough, that can be managed at home," says Marcie Billings, M.D., pediatrician and division chair of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. "While differences exist among all viruses, the recommendations for care at home are the same — have your child rest, keep them well hydrated and use fever-reducing medications when needed for children 3 months of age or older. This is also a time to make sure children are up to date with their vaccinations and schedule those shots when they are well."
For children at high risk for complications from influenza or other viruses, or parents and guardians who feel their child should be seen, contact your primary care team to determine if an outpatient visit is needed, says Dr. Billings.
"Testing for illnesses like RSV is not always needed or recommended, as it will not change the course of care for managing symptoms at home," she says. "That's why we don't recommend scheduling an appointment or going to the Emergency Department just to get a test. Contact your primary care office to determine if your child should be seen. If so, the need for testing can be discussed during that visit."
Mayo Clinic Primary Care in Southeast Minnesota expands appointments
Mayo Clinic Primary Care is expanding appointment availability in Rochester and the surrounding area for children with acute care needs on nights and weekends. Appointments are available during the following hours for clinics in:
Albert Lea, Austin
Cannon Falls, Lake City and Red Wing
Rochester and Kasson:
The Rochester and Kasson appointment line will open 7 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday for same-day appointments. Expanded hours are not available Wednesday, Nov. 23, or on Mayo Clinic official holidays.
"Our goal is to support families through their child’s illness and give them an option, versus going to the Emergency Department, which should only be done in a true emergency," says Dr. Billings.
Mayo Clinic Primary Care offers the following resources to help patients manage upper respiratory infections:
Influenza can worsen chronic health problems, such as asthma and congestive heart failure. Those at an increased risk of influenza-related complications include:
"As we enter this season and the upcoming holidays, we will see an increase in colds, flu and COVID-19 infections," says Dr. Billings. "In many cases, kids can be safely cared for at home. Contact your primary care team if you have concerns and keep your child at home until symptoms improve. If your child tests positive for COVID-19, follow CDC isolation guidelines."
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