Flu, Common Cold & Strep Throat

HealthFit’s approach to treating the flu, the common cold and strep throat

HealthFit Family Medicine offers same-day appointments so we can quickly treat those with the flu, a common cold or strep throat before symptoms become debilitating. We know people can’t predict when these illnesses might strike, so we work with our patients to accommodate their schedules and get them or their loved ones in right away for care.

In our routine patient care, we follow a philosophy of preventive care. This means we help our 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 seasonal illnesses, like the flu and common cold.

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Flu (influenza)

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) reports that 2018 will surpass the numbers for 2014-2015: 34 million cases of flu, with 710,000 people being hospitalized and 56,000 dying from it. Clearly, the flu is a serious matter.

Flu symptoms

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.

Flu treatment

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.

In infants:

  • No tears when crying.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Not able to eat.

In children:

  • 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.

In adults:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
  • Vomiting of a severe and persistent nature.
  • Dizziness.
  • Confusion.
  • Symptoms get better, then return with increased fever and cough.

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Common cold

According to the CDC, children are at the greatest risk of catching a cold and get more colds than a healthy adult.

Cold symptoms

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.

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Ear infection

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.

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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.
    • Earache.
    • Joint pain.
    • Swollen lymph glands.
    • Rash.
    • 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.

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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.

 

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Take the next steps at HealthFit

HealthFit offers same-day appointments to treat you when you need it most. Call (303) 218-7774 to arrange for a quick appointment.

For follow-up appointments or to speak with us about becoming a patient for our whole-body proactive health and wellness approach:

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