Symptoms to watch for, and what to do

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant,” said Anne Bradstreet, an American poet.  Spring is here, so away with the cold weather and the nasty winter illnesses, too! 

This year has been difficult for so many fighting illnesses. Sickness is everywhere and people still believe cold weather causes one to become ill. That’s not true. It is not the weather that causes one to become ill; rather, it is adapting to the cold weather and the changes your body must make to re-adapt. Re-adapting expends energy and causes you to have an “at-risk” immune system.

The cold months of winter place everyone on the path to sickness. Those with damaged or severe immunity problems are even more prone to becoming sick. Germs are present in the air and on just about everything we touch.

Illnesses that become prevalent during the winter months include seasonal influenza, the common cold, upper respiratory infections, bronchiolitis, and allergies. Many times these illnesses can be battled with an over-the-counter prescription or a visit to the doctor’s office for correct diagnosis and care.

Influenza (Flu)

Influenza is an acute, highly contagious, respiratory disease caused by any of three orthomyxoviruses: influenza A (moderate to severe), influenza B (less severe), or influenza C (mild). The symptoms of flu are fatigue, body aches, and a fever. If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to get to the doctor within the first 48 hours. Our UrgentWay staff will test for the flu virus, and if test results are positive, we can prescribe an anti-viral medicine that will help you get better faster.

New York has been one of many states to be greatly affected by the new, severe strain of the flu called H3H2. This strain is a variant of influenza A, commonly known as the swine flu. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Influenza Surveillance Report recently stated that influenza activity remains elevated.

Those who are most at risk for becoming sick with influenza are young children and the elderly. In 2018 an estimated 80,000 Americans died of influenza; this is the highest influenza death rate in 40 years.

Common Cold

The common cold is an acute disease of the upper respiratory tract that is marked by inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, eyes, and eustachian tubes, and by a watery or thick discharge. It’s caused by any of several viruses (such as a rhinovirus or an adenovirus).

Common cold symptoms are stuffy or runny noses, congestion, sore throat, and/or a cough and can be caught by simply pushing a grocery shopping cart or opening a door. The average cold can last anywhere from 7 to 10 days. If your cold lasts more than 10 days, you should seek medical treatment. While there is no cure for a cold, there are several over-the-counter medications that can help you feel better while speeding recovery. Be sure to stay well hydrated!

Upper Respiratory Infections

An upper respiratory infection can be caused by bacteria or a virus, affecting the nose, nasal passages, and throat. Symptoms of upper respiratory infections include nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, dry cough, and difficulty swallowing. Bronchitis is also considered to be an upper respiratory infection, it is an acute or chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes.

Treatment will depend on the type and severity of the infection. An antibiotic is only needed if bacterial infection exists. Most cases can be cured by drinking a lot of fluids, using an air humidifier to keep the air moist, and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Allergies

Spring brings new life to the world around us. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming, and neighborhoods are turning green again. However along with that new life also comes lots of new pollen, welcoming allergies. As of March, 2019, New York’s pollen levels were deemed medium to medium-high.

Allergies are a reaction to an antigen in response to a first exposure. Symptoms range from sneezing and runny noses to headaches and even hives on the skin. Allergies can often be solved by home remedies or an over-the-counter medication, but if breathing becomes difficult, you’ll need to see a doctor. Our UrgentWay staff can diagnose whether you are suffering from allergies and recommend the right over-the-counter or prescription medicine to ease symptoms.

Take the Extra Steps to Stay Healthy!

Even though we’re at the end of winter, it is still critical to take the extra steps to sanitize often so that you are not spreading unnecessary germs. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20-25 seconds, disinfect any common areas, and cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Do your best to avoid contact with those who are sick, and stay home if you are sick. Do not send sick children to school or daycare under any circumstances, as they will be more susceptible to illness.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, our staff at UrgentWay is highly skilled and trained in diagnosing your condition. Make an appointment today with one of our doctors. You can call us at 718-285-7801, book your appointment online, schedule a telemedicine visit, or walk in to your neighborhood UrgentWay. We would be happy to help you start feeling better!

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