All About Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

 

Summer gives us a break from the flu and many other viruses prevalent during the winter months, but there is one contagious virus that your child is at risk of contracting during the summer.

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common illness in the summer months, predominantly found in infants and children under the age of 10, but one that can also affect teens and adults. It is caused by a family of viruses known as the Coxsackie virus. There are multiple types of Coxsackie virus, but the A16 strain causes HFMD.

HFMD can produce a wide variety of symptoms, including mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, head and muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, and poor appetite. The fever usually lasts anywhere from 24 hours to 2-3 days. One or two days after the fever begins, small red spots begin to appear in the mouth, throat, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. These spots develop into blisters and eventually into painful ulcers, which resolve within a few days without any scarring.

These blisters give the illness its name, but it should not be confused with the similarly named foot (or hoof) and mouth disease, which is found in cattle.

HFMD is spread between children either hand to hand or through tiny air droplets that are released when they sneeze, cough, or blow their nose.  The illness can also be spread when a person is exposed to an infected child’s stool or the fluid from their blisters.

HFMD is contagious and tends to spread most easily in settings where many young children are together, such as day care centers.  In tropical parts of the world, HFMD is present throughout the year, but in cooler climates, such as New York, outbreaks take place only in the summer or fall. Some people incorrectly believe that the illness is spread in swimming pools, but a properly chlorinated pool should kill the virus.

Proper hand washing is considered the best protection against the virus, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food. The virus can live on contaminated surfaces for several days. Therefore, parents should clean shared toys and all surfaces potentially contaminated with disinfectant cleaners to protect against the spread of HFMD.

There are lab tests to confirm HFMD, but doctors usually can diagnose the virus based on a physical examination. There is no specific treatment for HFMD. Doctors often recommend over-the-counter pain and fever reducing medications to make your child feel more comfortable. Salt water rinses might also provide relief.

If you think your child has hand, foot and mouth disease, you should see a pediatrician or call Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486 to make an appointment.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What is Mononucleosis?

Mononucleosis, also known simply as “mono” is a common infectious disease that is typically caused by the Epstein Barr virus.

Mono is most often found in teens or young adults, such as college age students. Young children also can get mono, but symptoms are much milder and may go unnoticed. As children grow older, they usually build-up antibodies to the disease and develop an immunity as they become adults.

Mono is primarily spread through the transmission of bodily fluids, such as mucus or saliva. For this reason mono is also given another name, “the kissing disease,” although it can also be spread by sharing items such as drinking glasses, utensils, or toothbrushes.

Symptoms of mononucleosis include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headaches
  • Rash
  • Swollen liver and / or spleen

Symptoms of mono first appear four to six weeks after being exposed. Most symptoms last two to four weeks, but some symptoms, such as fatigue, or swollen spleen or liver can last for months.

There is no vaccine to prevent and no medicine to treat mononucleosis. Self-care treatment methods, such as getting plenty of rest, consuming liquids and taking pain / fever medications are all that is usually needed. Gargling with salt water and taking lozenges are also recommended to soothe a sore throat. It is also advised to avoid contact sports and heavy lifting to avoid further damage to your spleen or liver.

If your child is experiencing symptoms that are consistent with mononucleosis, it is recommended that you see your doctor, who can confirm a diagnosis or rule out other causes for your symptoms by ordering a blood test.

If you do not have a doctor, Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center has many dedicated physicians. To make an appointment, please call 718-670-8939.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Ahhhhhchew! Cold, Flu or Seasonal Allergies?

Sick man lying in the bed with fever.

We have sprung into spring!  Flowers and trees are beginning to bud and we should be feeling great, but some of us aren’t.  If you are one of these folks, you may be experiencing seasonal allergies, or are you?

Allergies, colds and the flu are often hard to tell apart because they share many similar symptoms. It is knowing the differences in the symptoms that will help you when seeking treatment.

Colds and the flu are caused by different viruses and the symptoms associated with the flu are often more severe.  Allergies are different because they are not caused by a virus.  It is your body’s immune system reacting to an allergen that you are allergic to such as pollen or pet dander.

This chart can help you determine whether you have seasonal allergies, a cold or the flu:

Common Cold Influenza Seasonal Allergies
Stuffy or runny nose Yes Sometimes Runny, itchy nose
Fever Sometimes; mild if present Usually, often 100 degrees F (38.8 degrees C) or higher. No
Body Aches Mild Mild to severe No
Chills Sometimes Yes, sometimes intense No
Sore Throat Often Sometimes Itchy or tickling throat
Fatigue, Weakness Sometimes Usually, can last a couple of weeks after recovery Rarely
Feeling extremely exhausted No Yes No
Headache Sometimes Usually, sometimes severe Sinus pressure or stuffiness
Sinus drainage Usually Rarely Often
Diarrhea, Vomiting No Sometimes No
Cough Mild to moderate Usually, can become severe Dry or with minimal mucus
Watering eyes Sometimes Sometimes, with fever Itchy swollen, burning, and/or watery eyes
Ears Ear congestion No Ear congestion or popping
Sneezing Usually Sometimes Yes
Timing Anytime throughout the year Most cases occur between October and May. Anytime, but symptoms are often more intense in the fall and spring seasons.

If you are experiencing some or all of the symptoms listed above and would like to make an appointment to see a physician, you can call Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.