Winter Illnesses

Winter Illnesses
By: Wendy Ray

If you haven't been sick yet keep your fingers crossed you won't be the next victim. T

here are a lot of things going around the Heartland right now and there's a good chance, you or someone you know has had something. There are so many illnesses making kids and adults sick crowding medical offices across the Heartland, but the good news is it's probably not the flu.

15 year old Kris Ferrell has been coughing a lot lately. Kris has been sick for two weeks. "Just really stuffed up, my back's hurting from the fever," he says. Kris finally came to Immediate Healthcare to see nurse practitioner Nicole Huckabee. "When you cough, do you cough stuff up," Huckabee asks Kris.

Huckabee says her patient load has really picked up over the last two weeks. Some days the staff at Immediate Healthcare sees close to 100 people who are coming in with all types of illnesses. "A lot of upper respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections and upset stomachs, sinus infections, bronchitis," Huckabee says. Huckabee's seen an increase in strep throat this week. She says a lot of the illnesses have flu-like symptoms, but they're not the flu. In fact, only a few cases of the flu have been confirmed at Immediate Healthcare. Even though there's a good chance you don't have the flu, you still need to take care of yourself. If you have a high fever, white patches on the back of your throat, if you've been vomiting a lot and are dehydrated, or if your sickness lasts more than a few days, go see a health professional. "Some people come in before they've actually given their immune system a chance to fight the virus. Some people wait too long and are too sick when they come in. It's hard to really gauge for people when they're at home," Huckabee says.

You're contagious when you have a fever because that's when the infection is at it's peak, but many times you are contagious before you ever have a symptom. So it's good to keep up those common sense preventative actions like hand washing and not eating or drinking after someone else. Extended Web Coverage

Cold and Flu Facts
  • Colds are by far the most common illness in the world. In the United States, 90% of the population will have at least one cold per year.
  • The flu is similar, and somtimes has the same symptoms as a cold, but is often much more severe and lasts longer.
  • Cold and flu viruses attack the nose, nasal sinuses, throat and the upper breathing tubes (trachea and bronchi). As they invade the moist skin lining of these structures, they cause runny nose, sinus congestion, sneezing, sore throat and cough. Fever might also occur, usually with the flu.
  • Although it Is difficult to tell the difference between colds and flu (especially in children), the chart on the next page may help distinguish between the two.
  • The classic symptoms of above begin 1-4 days after contact with the virus and usually last 5-7 days, but can linger on. For most healthy people the difference between colds and flu aren't important. For the elderly, very young children, or otherwise susceptible people, the flu can be very serious. These people should always be seen by a doctor if the flu is suspected.

Source:  Protocare Corporation

When Should You See A Doctor?

It is important to see your doctor for evaluation if any of the following occurs.

  • Severe, continuos vomiting or diarrhea lasting 8 hrs. or any vomiting and diarrhea not improved after 24 hrs.
  • Fever over 102 degrees
  • Earache
  • Shaking chills
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin rash
  • Unusual lethargy or delirium
  • Change in cough or nasal secretions to thick green or gray
  • Uncontrollable cough or cough sounding like a "seal bark"

Source:  Protocare Corporation