SSM Health: Signs of concern with respiratory illness

MADISON, Wis. — The common cold, the flu, RSV, and stomach bugs are all on the increase in Wisconsin this time of the year. This complicates things with the presence of COVID-19, which can present many of the same symptoms. While it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of each illness, SSM Health Pediatrician Dan Beardmore is breaking down the difference between what’s normal, and when to be seen by a doctor. 

“The things we want to look out for are those signs of breathing distress,” says Beardmore. “So when your little one is coughing, but can catch breaths between coughing fits, and acting and behaving well between coughing fits, fine. But if your little one is working hard to breath with the belly sucking in and out, the ribs flaring, taking those exaggerated heavy breaths. The thing I like to think about and talk about is imagine that extra work of breathing and how easily that would fatigue someone if they had to do it for hours on end. If we get too tired to breath right, well then that’s obviously a reason to be seen.”

While avoiding all illness is difficult, Beardmore says there are prevention strategies that can help. He recommends that children receive all vaccines that they’re eligible for, including flu and COVID-19. He also says that making, distancing, and hand hygiene are incredibly important. 

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