HealthFit’s approach to treating acute care needs
HealthFit Family Medicine offers 24/7 phone availability and same-day appointments to immediately treat acute care needs, such as the flu, colds, fractures and other medical problems that occur suddenly. HealthFit is equipped to handle emergency situations that are not life-threatening. HealthFit offers flexible scheduling so our providers can immediately ease discomfort and set patients on a path to healing.
Accidents happen, and the flu or a cold can quickly become debilitating. While we are ready to treat those quickly, our care focuses on helping patients maintain an active and healthy lifestyle that supports their body from the inside out. A healthy diet and regular exercise strengthen the immune system, enabling the body to better fend off severe effects of flus and colds.
Below is information on the major types of acute care issues we treat.
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Most of the time, people get the flu and get over it on their own. But hospitalizations for the flu rose dramatically in 2018. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 2018 will surpass the numbers for 2014-2015: 34 million cases of flu, with 710,000 being hospitalized and 56,000 dying from it. Clearly, the flu is a serious matter.
There are several different strains of flu (influenza) viruses. The flu season every fall and winter is caused by the more common influenza A and B strains. Symptoms are often mistaken for common cold ailments that affect only the respiratory system, however, influenza affects the entire body.
Fever is often, but not always a symptom, as are achy joints, extreme tiredness and lack of appetite. These flu symptoms come on quickly and last for two to five days, but individuals may experience the feelings of exhaustion for an additional week. The flu virus spreads primarily from person to person, and a patient may be contagious before experiencing any actual symptoms.
At HealthFit, we prefer that our patients take preventive steps and get a flu vaccination from us before flu season begins, as we are unable to kill the flu virus once it has taken hold. But if a person is diagnosed with the flu, treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms and easing pain within the body.
When to come see us for the flu
Some people are at higher risk of having serious cases of the flu, including children, people over the age of 65, pregnant women and people with other chronic medical issues. Patients should call us if they are in a high-risk group and get the flu, as should people who are very sick with the flu and concerned about the severity of their symptoms.
We recommend patients seek emergency medical care for the flu when the following signs are present.
- No tears when crying.
- Trouble breathing.
- Not able to eat.
- Fever accompanied by a rash.
- Blue skin color.
- Trouble breathing.
- Not interacting with others; not waking up.
- Symptoms get better, then return with increased fever and cough.
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
- Vomiting of a severe and persistent nature.
- Symptoms get better, then return with increased fever and cough.
According to the CDC, children are at the greatest risk of catching a cold and get more colds than a healthy adult.
Less severe than the flu, the common cold symptoms are a sore throat, runny nose, congestion and cough.
A cold is a type of viral infection that enters the body through the mouth, eyes or nose and affects the upper respiratory tract. A person is contagious the first three days of sickness. Most people get over their cold within 7-10 days.
Common cold treatment
A cold can’t be cured, and over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications will not make a cold go away any faster, but they can reduce the symptoms (always talk to us before giving a child OTC cold medicines). We advise people with a cold to get lots of rest and to drink plenty of fluids.
When to see us for a cold
It’s important to schedule an appointment with a HealthFit provider if symptoms do not improve, as this may be an indication of a bacterial infection, and antibiotics may be needed. People who have asthma, respiratory conditions or a weak immune system should be more attentive to seeking our care, as they are at risk of developing serious conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
An ear infection is usually a bacterial or viral infection that causes inflammation of the middle ear, resulting in the area becoming blocked with fluids. This infection may result from an illness that causes swelling and congestion in the nasal passage, throat and eustachian tubes.
Eustachian tubes are canals connecting the middle ear to the upper throat and the back of the nasal cavity. They control the pressure within the middle ear and drain normally occurring fluids. When fluids become trapped in the middle ear, it creates a breeding ground for infections.
Young children are at high risk for ear infections because their eustachian tubes are short and narrow, which makes them prone to being clogged by fluid. Other factors contributing to ear infections in children are bottle feeding of infants, pacifier use, exposure to cigarette smoke, illness, and altitude and climate changes.
Ear infection symptoms
Because the eustachian tubes are unable to open, symptoms include pressure or pain in the inner ear. In adults, ear infection symptoms include an earache, sharp pain with warm fluid drainage, muffled hearing, feeling of fullness in the ear and nausea.
Symptoms in children include pulling on the ear, drainage, irritability, poor appetite, crying when lying down at night, fever and poor sleep.
To help ease these symptoms, apply a warm cloth to the affected ear.
When to see us for an ear infection
Symptoms may occur in one or both ears and be consistent or come and go. Seek medical attention immediately in the following cases.
- Experiencing symptoms with a fever of 100.4 or higher.
- Frequently experiencing symptoms.
- Hearing problems.
- A child 6 months or younger experiencing symptoms.
- A child has severe ear pain and symptoms don’t improve.
- A child who is lethargic and unresponsive.
- A child with a stiff neck.
Sore throat and strep throat
A sore throat is often the first sign of a cold and only stays around for a day or two. It is also associated with other cold symptoms such as congestion, cough and a runny nose. A sore throat is most commonly caused by a virus and can resolve on its own.
Strep throat is a common condition caused by an infection of the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes, resulting in inflammation and pain in the throat. With strep throat, the sore throat is often persistent and more severe. Although it affects people of all ages, children between the ages of 5 and 15 experience higher rates of strep throat. A person will typically not cough with strep throat.
Sore throat symptoms
Depending on the cause of the sore throat, symptoms can include pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat, pain that worsens when talking or swallowing, hoarse or muffled voice, swollen glands in the neck, or difficulty swallowing.
Strep throat symptoms
Symptoms typically develop within five days of exposure to the bacteria and vary from person to person. Mild symptoms may include a sore throat. Fevers of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and difficulty swallowing may occur in more severe cases. Other symptoms include a red throat with white patches, throat pain that comes on quickly, pain when swallowing, a headache, chills, loss of appetite and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
When to see us for a sore throat or strep throat
Adults or children with sore or strep throat symptoms should seek our medical care in the following cases.
- Sore throat or fever lasting more than 2 days.
- Fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in older children.
- Hoarseness lasting more than 2 weeks.
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing.
- Problems opening the mouth.
- A lump in the neck.
- Joint pain.
- Swollen lymph glands.
- Blood in phlegm or saliva.
- Recurring sore throats.
We prescribe antibiotics to impede the spread of bacteria and infections. These kill the infection. We may also recommend throat lozenges or over-the-counter medications to alleviate sore throat symptoms.
Take steps to prevent flu, colds and strep throat
The flu, colds and strep throat are all highly contagious and spread easily through coughing, sneezing and making contact. Each of these illnesses is transferred through inhaling or coming into contact with small droplets that contain the virus or bacteria.
When the body is infected by a virus, it needs time to produce the necessary antibodies to fight the infection and let the virus take its course. Integrating healthy habits can support the natural healing of the body. Prevention is the easiest way for people to protect themselves.
- Wash hands often. Washing hands with soap and clean water removes germs and keeps contamination to a minimum.
- Throw away used tissues. Viruses can spread from tissue to hands.
- Keep areas clean. Germs can easily spread throughout the home and workspace. Maintaining a clean environment protects people from potentially harmful pathogens.
- Minimize contact with others. Direct contact is the easiest way to spread highly contagious viruses.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. People can contain the spread of the virus by using a tissue or the inner crook of the elbow when they cough and/or sneeze (if sneezing into the hands, wash them afterward).
- Rest. Fighting infections uses much of the body’s energy. Getting plenty of sleep replenishes and strengthens the body to maintain health.
- Hydrate. Water helps clear the body of toxins. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
Acute care for injuries
HealthFit encourages an active lifestyle. However, sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, and lacerations/cuts can sometimes result from physical activity. In a time of emergency, it is important to seek immediate help and receive proper treatment.
Sprains and strains
Sprains and strains are two common injuries. A sprain occurs at the joint when it twists while bearing weight. It affects the ligament connecting bone to bone. These accidents tend to occur when a patient rolls or twists an ankle.
A strain, also known as a pulled muscle, affects the muscle or tendons, which connect muscle to bone. This occurs when too much force is placed on the muscle.
Common symptoms of sprains and strains include bruising, muscle spasms, swelling, and limited flexibility and movement. Patients should seek our acute care for sprains and strains if:
- They are unable to use the joint or damaged muscle.
- Develop a fever, and the damaged area is hot.
- Heard a popping sound or sensation at time of injury.
- The pain in the injured joint does not improve.
A fracture is the same thing as a broken bone, though many people think they are different and that a fracture is merely a crack. A fracture is caused when a bone is hit by something strong, causing it to break or shatter.
Fractures often require X-rays, bone scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to properly diagnose the injury. Fractures may require a splint, casting, sling or a combination of these support tools to aid healing and recovery. This helps secure the bone in alignment to facilitate the mending of the bone. We perform all these services at HealthFit, either in our offices or at the Castle Rock Adventist Hospital located next door.
A stress fracture, tiny cracks in a bone, may be barely noticeable at first but tends to worsen over time if not given a chance to properly heal. Most common in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot, this injury is often the result of increasing an activity amount or intensity too quickly. Symptoms at the injury site may include swelling, numbness, bleeding, bruising or bone sticking through the skin.
Patients should always seek acute care when they suspect they have a fracture.
Dislocations occur when the end of a bone is forced out of its position in a joint. Dislocations are usually the result of a fall, a blow or hard contact in a sport. They can occur at the shoulder, jaw, elbow, finger, hip, knee, ankle or toe.
A dislocation is very painful and generally visibly out of place. Dislocations are cause for seeking acute care to get the dislocated bone back into position.
Lacerations and cuts are the same thing: a deep, possibly jagged cut or tearing of the skin, during which bleeding can be fast and extensive. Open wounds require our immediate attention. Until a laceration patient is in our care, someone should apply direct pressure and elevate the wound if possible to control the blood flow.
Depending on the severity of the injury, proper treatment may require our provider to numb the area with anesthetic and seal the laceration with skin glue or sutures (stitches). To avoid infections, patients should keep the location of the wound and surrounding area clean. Outside of business hours immediately seek treatment at an urgent or emergency care facility.
An abrasion is a wound in which the skin is scraped away by some trauma involving friction. It may require acute care if one can’t remove debris that has become imbedded in the abrasion, as it can cause infection.
Take the next steps at HealthFit
HealthFit offers same-day appointments to help you with your acute care needs. Call (303) 218-7774 to arrange for a quick appointment.
For follow-up appointments to acute care needs, or to speak with us about becoming a patient for our whole-body proactive health and wellness approach: