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Tucson pediatricians treating more toddlers who are struggling to breathe

Pediatricians seeing more sick children than usual
Posted at 7:28 AM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 22:20:57-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — In addition to COVID, there are other viruses spreading locally that parents should be aware of. Local pediatricians say there's been abnormally high amounts of hospitalizations for this time of year. Most are children who come in struggling to breathe.

Dr. Tien Nguyen has worked as a pediatrician in Tucson for more than nine years. She’s always treating kids, and says most of them get sick in the winter time. However, this year looks very different.

“The last couple months we’ve been abnormally busy, we’ve seen a lot more respiratory cases,” said Dr. Tien Nguyen, a pediatrician at Desert Pediatrics.

Dr. Nguyen and other local pediatricians have seen a sudden rise in respiratory diseases this summer.

“Highly unusual for this time of year, we’re seeing a large number of viruses such as RSV, parainfluenza,” said Dr. Sean Elliott, a pediatrician at TMC Hospital.

Pediatricians say this strange trend is probably related to changing COVID regulations.

“Now we’ve got a time period where the masks went away and we went back to school,” Dr. Elliott said.

“People are going out and enjoying more in the community,” Dr. Nguyen said.

And these respiratory diseases are even more concerning when paired with the pandemic. The American Academy of Pediatrics says COVID cases among children are rising. Children account for one in four of all weekly reported cases. Dr. Elliott says he’s also seen a recent increase in COVID cases at TMC.

“The look in the eyes from someone who hasn’t experienced suffocation before and all of a sudden is, from a preventable illness, is indescribable,” said Dr. Elliott.

He says parents can stop the spread of these viruses by getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene.