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Enterovirus: What does wheezing sound like? When should you seek help?

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(LOS ANGELES TIMES) — The enterovirus infections that have sprung up in the Midwest have brought the words “wheezing” and “respiratory distress” into the mainstream. But how, as a parent, do you know if your child is wheezing? And when is it bad enough to contact a doctor or seek care?

Parents of asthmatics become adept at recognizing breathing difficulties. But enterovirus D68 is also affecting children who have never before experienced respiratory distress. In serious cases, it’s landing them in intensive care.

Parents are finding themselves in a tough position, trying to evaluate their child’s symptoms in light of a serious health threat while wondering if they’re overreacting to a common cold. Doctors, too, are still finding their feet amid the recent influx of cases.

As time goes on and more cases are treated, "we probably will come to a better understanding of those children at greatest risk," said Dr. Paul Krogstad, a professor of pediatrics in the infectious diseases division at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA . "We may find a way to distinguish D68 versus another trigger" for respiratory distress. "But presently, we're not there."

Lab testing alone to detect "a viral trigger" is rather slow, Krogstad told the L.A. Times. A throat or nose swab is used to detect the virus, and it takes "many hours or days" to get results.

To read more on this story, visit latimes.com.