When Is a Bad Cold Enterovirus 68?

The main symptom of Enterovirus 68 to be aware of is coughing and wheezing. (Image: Flickr, Napinterrupted_creative commons)
The main symptom of Enterovirus 68 to be aware of is coughing and wheezing. (Image: Flickr, Napinterrupted_creative commons)

We all catch a cold from time to time, and it’s best to stay at home so you don’t pass it around. But Enterovirus 68 can easily be mistaken for a common cold. This virus hits some a lot harder though—especially those who already have a respiratory condition, such as asthma.

Enterovirus 68 for most is mild, and can be treated like a common cold. For others, it is a hard-hitting flu with a nasty cough. There is usually a runny nose, sore throat, and aching muscles that go along with it.

The main symptom to keep watch for with enterovirus 68 is coughing and wheezing.

Some people will find breathing labored, in which case, a trip to the hospital is vital.

Enterovirus 68, last seen in California in the 1960s, has recently made a comeback, with outbreaks across the U.S. The main group of people at risk appear to be young children under 5 who have asthma.

One report states that 70 percent of children hospitalized with enterovirus 68 had an underlying respiratory illness; the other 30 percent were healthy.

Once infected, antibiotics don’t work, as it’s a virus—not bacteria. There is also no vaccine as yet. Children who experience breathing difficulties are given oxygen and medication to relax the lungs and support breathing.

Enterovirus 68 spreads pretty easily through contact with saliva, mucous, and sputum. Covering your mouth when coughing. washing your hands with soap regularly, and staying home when you have a cold are all good habits.

If you experience a severe cold that continues to progress into difficulty breathing, reduced alertness, skin rashes, loose stools, and abdominal pain, don’t delay in seeing a doctor—especially when breathing becomes labored or a bad cough develops.

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