LOUISVILLE, KY. (WAVE) - The summer heat is sparking more asthma flares in Kentuckiana this week, while in southern Indiana, parents are put on alert for whooping cough. Those are two of the medical problems reported in WAVE 3's weekly check of "What's Going Around."
First, pertussis, also known as 'whooping cough', can be dangerous for babies under 6 months. Dr. Jill Howell-Berg, a pediatrician, with Norton Community Medical Center in Clarksville, says those babies "do not yet have full protection with vaccines." She says the bacterial infection actually starts like a cold with a runny nose but then progresses to coughing spells with the 'whoop' sound and possible vomiting.
For unprotected infants pneumonia is a concern. Dr. Howell-Berg says the bacteria is extremely contagious and is spread by aerosolized droplets or close contact.
Many doctors will go ahead and treat close contacts as well as the patient. A course of antibiotics will stop the spread but the symptoms may persist six to ten weeks. A booster vaccine for pertussis is recommended for teens and parents or caregivers of children under age one.
Asthma sufferers are taking another hit this week. Dr. Jason Guin with Family Allergy and Asthma says asthma flares are caused by the kind of extreme heat Kentuckiana is under. He says if patients start feeling chest tightness and reaching for the rescue inhaler it's time to contact the allergist. It's also a good time says Guin, to evaluate for underlying allergies. He advises his patients to keep windows and doors closed at home and in the car and to instead use the air conditioning. Also, stay indoors during peak heat hours and avoid exercising during those hours too.
Dr. Christina Breit with Dupont Internal Medicine and Jewish Physician Group is treating summer colds. Dr. Breit says the symptoms of a typical upper respiratory infection are nasal congestion, headache and sore throat. She advises over the counter meds.
Dr. Breit is also treating a lot of allergy symptoms this week because of the grass pollen. Her patients are complaining of a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and sinus pressure. She says over the counter antihistamines are a good option along with nasal steroids and trying to avoid allergy triggers.