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Helpful Resources

Sore Throat

Your throat is a tube that carries food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe and larynx (also called the voice box). The technical name for the throat is pharynx.

You can have a sore throat for many reasons. Often, colds and flu cause sore throats. Other causes can include:

  • Allergies
  • Mononucleosis
  • Smoking
  • Strep throat
  • Tonsillitis

Treatment depends on the cause. Sucking on lozenges, drinking lots of liquids, and gargling may ease the pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help, but children should not take aspirin.

Toddler Health

Most young children get sick. It is hard for parents to know what is serious. You can learn what the common warning signs are. In the end, trust your intuition. If you are worried about your toddler, call your health care provider right away.

Well-child visits are important to your toddler's health. Toddlers will get their recommended vaccines during these visits. Routine exams and screenings help you and your kids prevent and treat health problems as well as chart their growth and development.

Valley Fever

Valley Fever is a disease caused by a fungus (or mold) called Coccidioides. The fungi live in the soil of dry areas like the southwestern U.S. You get it from inhaling the spores of the fungus. The infection cannot spread from person to person.

Anyone can get Valley Fever. But it's most common among older adults, especially those 60 and older. People who have recently moved to an area where it occurs are at highest risk for infection. Other people at higher risk include:

  • Workers in jobs that expose them to soil dust. These include construction workers, agricultural workers, and military forces doing field training.
  • African Americans and Asians
  • Women in their third trimester of pregnancy
  • People with weak immune systems

Valley Fever is often mild, with no symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include a flu-like illness, with fever, cough, headache, rash, and muscle aches. Most people get better within several weeks or months. A small number of people may develop a chronic lung or widespread infection.

Valley Fever is diagnosed by testing your blood, other body fluids, or tissues. Many people with the acute infection get better without treatment. In some cases, doctors may prescribe antifungal drugs for acute infections. Severe infections require antifungal drugs.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Viral Infections

What are viruses?

Viruses are very tiny germs. They are made of genetic material (either DNA or RNA) inside of a protein coating. There are a huge number of viruses on earth. Only a small number of them can infect humans. Those viruses can infect our cells, which may cause disease. Some of the diseases that viruses can cause include the common cold, the flu, COVID-19, and HIV.

How are viruses spread?

Viruses can be spread in different ways:

  • Through droplets and particles that are breathed out by someone who has the infection. You might breathe in the droplets or particles, or they could land on your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • By touching surfaces or objects that have the virus on them and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • From the pregnant parent to the baby during pregnancy.
  • Through contaminated food or water.
  • By being bitten by an infected insect or animal.
  • Through sexual contact (usually vaginal, anal and oral sex) with someone who has the infection.
How do viruses cause disease?

Viruses are like hijackers. They invade living, normal cells. They then use those cells to multiply (make copies of themselves). This process is also called replication. The process can kill, damage, or change the infected cells. Sometimes this can make you sick. The symptoms can range from mild to very severe. Other times, your immune system may be able to fight it off and you may not have any symptoms.

Each different virus usually only infects one type of cell in your body. For example, hepatitis viruses affect the cells in the liver. HIV infects a certain type of immune system cell.

What are the treatments for viral infections?

For most viral infections, treatments can only help with symptoms while you wait for your immune system to fight off the virus. There are antiviral medicines to treat some viral infections. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections.

Can viral infections be prevented?

Vaccines can help prevent you from getting many viral diseases. You may be able to prevent some viral infections by:

  • Proper hand washing.
  • Paying attention to food safety.
  • Cleaning surfaces that may be infected with germs.
  • Avoiding contact with wild animals.
  • Preventing insect bites by using insect repellent when you go outdoors. If you travel to an area that has a high risk of diseases from insect bites, also wear long pants, shirts, and socks.
  • Practicing safe sex (using a condom every time you have anal, vaginal, or oral sex).
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

Childhood Vaccines

What are vaccines?

Vaccines are injections (shots), liquids, pills, or nasal sprays that you take to teach the immune system to recognize and defend against harmful germs. The germs could be viruses or bacteria.

Some types of vaccines contain germs that cause disease. But the germs have been killed or weakened enough that they won't make your child sick. Some vaccines only contain a part of a germ. Other types of vaccines include instructions for your cells to make a protein of the germ.

These different vaccine types all spark an immune response, which helps the body fight off the germs. Your child's immune system will also remember the germ and attack it if that germ ever invades again. This protection against a certain disease is called immunity.

Why do I need to vaccinate my child?

Babies are born with immune systems that can fight most germs, but there are some serious diseases they can't handle. That's why they need vaccines to strengthen their immune system.

These diseases once killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. But now with vaccines, your child can get immunity from these diseases without having to get sick. And for a few vaccines, getting vaccinated can actually give you a better immune response than getting the disease would.

Vaccinating your child also protects others. Normally, germs can travel quickly through a community and make a lot of people sick. If enough people get sick, it can lead to an outbreak. But when enough people are vaccinated against a certain disease, it's harder for that disease to spread to others. The entire community is less likely to get the disease. This is called "community immunity."

Community immunity is especially important for the people who can't get certain vaccines. For example, they may not be able to get a vaccine because they have weakened immune systems. Others may be allergic to certain vaccine ingredients. And newborn babies are too young to get some vaccines. Community immunity can help to protect them all.

Are vaccines safe for children?

Vaccines are safe. They must go through extensive safety testing and evaluation before they are approved in the United States.

Some people worry that childhood vaccines could cause autism spectrum disorder (ASD). But many scientific studies have looked at this and have found no link between vaccines and autism.

Can vaccines overload my child's immune system?

No, vaccines do not overload the immune system. Every day, a healthy child's immune system successfully fights off thousands of germs. When your child gets vaccines, they are getting weakened or dead germs. So even if they get several vaccines in one day, they are being exposed to a tiny amount of germs compared to what they encounter every day in their environment.

When do I need to vaccinate my child?

Your child will get vaccines during well-child visits. They will be given according to the vaccine schedule. This schedule lists which vaccines are recommended for children. It includes who should get the vaccines, how many doses they need, and at what age they should get them. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes the vaccine schedule.

Following the vaccine schedule allows your child to get protection from the diseases at exactly the right time. It gives their body the chance to build up immunity before being exposed to these very serious diseases.