What’s Going Around: Heat, poor air quality, pollen levels are triggering breathing problems across Metro Detroit

Here’s our weekly round-up of what illnesses are spreading the most in Metro Detroit communities, according to our local doctors and hospitals.

Wayne County -- Strep throat, seasonal allergies, upper respiratory infections, influenza, asthma flare-ups, adenovirus, poison ivy

Dr. Kevin Dazy -- Childrens Hospital of Michigan pediatrician

We’re seeing a lot of asthma flare-ups, it goes with the time of the year, with a lot of pollen in the air. Plus, air quality is always an issue in the summertime, whether it’s ozone or, like we saw recently, smoke. We’re still seeing adenovirus a lot. In some kids, it’s a common cold with upper respiratory; some kids it’s vomiting and diarrhea. Some kids have all of it. It’s a very systemic virus; it doesn’t attack one place like viruses classically do. There’s a lot of strep around too. It normally peaks late winter to spring. So hopefully we’ll see less of it soon. I think it’s over the peak, but we’re still seeing a lot. We’re seeing more kids coming in with burns from things like campfires, fireworks and grills. When parents put the fire out, kids might pick up or step on a still-burning coal. Or they were roasting marshmallows, and they touch the metal fork. Sometimes they need to get admitted, depending on how deep it is, how widespread it is or where it is. And it’s important for parents to think about it, with 4th of July and summer vacations in full swing, so parents remember to keep an extra eye on their child.”

Dr. Jason Vieder -- Emergency Department, Henry Ford Medical Center Plymouth

“Now that we’re getting hot summer days, heat related illnesses are becoming more common. We’re telling patients to wear loose fitting clothing, stay hydrated and not to spend long periods of time in the direct sun. As more people are getting active, there is an increase in traumatic injury. It’s important not to push too hard if you’re not normally active. The potential for injury or exhaustion is exaggerated by the heat.”

Dr. Jennifer Stephens-Hoyer -- Emergency Department, Henry Ford Medical Center Plymouth

“We are seeing frequent upper respiratory infections from various viruses. COVID-19 is included in that group. We are also seeing frequent strep throat infections. And interestingly, we even had a few influenza B infections in the last few weeks. Most of these infections are minor. With that said any infection, along with the weather and allergens, are triggering, asthma and COPD exacerbations in those with these pulmonary illnesses. Working with your primary care doctor to optimize baseline management, as well as avoiding triggers as much as possible is important. Of course, we are seeing an increase in orthopedic injuries due to outdoor activities. Certainly we don’t want anyone to decrease outdoor activity levels, but proper precautions may reduce the risk of injury. For example, if there are wheels under your feet, there should be a helmet on your head. Parents should enforce this rule consistently with children. Also, taking the time to rest and hydrate while being active, especially if the weather is hot, can reduce fatigue related sports injuries as well.”

Oakland County -- Seasonal allergies, asthma & COPD flare-ups, rashes, sore throats, strep throat, ear infections

Dr. Steve McGraw -- Chair of Internal Medicine, Ascension Providence Hospital, Southfield

“I’m still seeing an increase in motorcycle vs car accidents. Everyone needs to look carefully for the riders when driving and cyclists need to obey speed limits and lane rules. Asthma flares and COPD exacerbations are still problematic due to the increase in heat and humidity. I encourage increased fluid intake for our seniors and those with chronic diseases as we get into the hotter months.”

Dr. Justin Skrzynski -- Internal medicine physician, Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak

“The warmer weather has meant fewer cases of respiratory viruses, but we’ve seen more people hospitalized due to heat and poor air quality, especially those with lung conditions like COPD. If you or a loved one have a chronic illness, it’s important to be mindful of food and environmental triggers, so that we can all enjoy a long, happy and healthy summer.”

Sarah Rauner, RN -- Chief pediatric nurse practitioner, Corewell Health’s Beaumont Hospital, Troy

“We are seeing allergy and asthma flare ups still. We are also seeing diarrhea with or without vomiting. Lastly, there have been lots of early summer rashes and skin concerns as well as a viral sore throat with some congestion, cough and maybe a fever. Make sure to wash hands, stay hydrated and use sun and bug protection. Making sure to take all the steps to prevent drowning as we move into summer as well.”

Emergency Department at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital

“A lot of patients with breathing issues. A lot of pain as well; chest, neck, back, foot and knee pain.”

Washtenaw County -- Stomach viruses, Covid, upper respiratory infections, seasonal allergies, influenza

Dr. Brad Uren -- Clinical Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Michigan Medicine

“Still seeing a lot of allergy symptoms. Less GI this week. A lot of URI symptoms including some COVID.”

Washtenaw County Health Department

“Influenza activity in Washtenaw County is currently at low levels. Sporadic cases of Influenza A and B are being reported. Flu-related hospitalizations of Washtenaw residents are currently at low levels. Sporadic hospitalizations continue to occur. "

MONROE COUNTY -- Did not report this week

Macomb County -- Gastrointestinal illnesses, seasonal allergies, breathing problems, colds, ear infections, poison ivy, pink eye

Dr. Ali Saad -- Emergency physician, McLaren Macomb

“While testing negative for COVID and the flu, a viral upper respiratory infection has caused symptoms of cough, congestion, runny nose, and slight fever. Caused primarily from food sitting out for an extended period of time in the heat, gastrointestinal distress has caused nausea and vomiting. Though there have been cases of allergy and asthma exacerbation, allergy season is expected to intensify in the coming weeks. With summer set to officially begin, there has been a noticeable absence of heat-related illnesses.”

Dr. Dhairya Kiri -- Primary Care Physician, Henry Ford Medical Center Richmond

“We have seen a lot of patients with allergies and breathing issues due to the high pollen counts and heat. We have also seen an uptick in urinary tract infections as well. I recommend avoiding going out and doing strenuous activities in the heat during the peak afternoon hours and staying well hydrated.”

Livingston County -- Stomach viruses, seasonal allergies, asthma flare-ups

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.