With winter officially beginning last week, we’ll soon be entering the coldest and harshest days of the year. Due to the snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures arriving in the near future, people will inevitably be flocking indoors to escape winter’s unpleasantries. When people confine themselves inside congested coffee shops, buses and subways, they become increasingly vulnerable to the host of infections and viruses that plague us each year around this time. Most common of these winter illnesses are cold, flu and pneumonia. Read on to learn more about the differences between these pesky winter illnesses.
The Common Cold
Perhaps the most common of all illnesses, the common cold, while largely innocuous, has no treatment besides time. On average, American adults experiences approximately 2-3 colds each year. While you can contract a cold at any point during the year, they tend to be more common during the winter months. Despite the common misconception that exposure to cold temperatures directly causes the common cold, this has been proven false.
Cold symptoms include:
- Runny Nose
- Sore Throat
Cough drops, refraining from alcohol consumption and getting plenty of sleep will help minimize its symptoms and expedite the healing process. However, because of its unspecific symptoms, feel free to visit us at FirstCall Medical Center as your symptoms may be due to another, more serious illness, such as influenza.
Flu season begins each year in the early fall but doesn’t typically pick up until January. Flu season will wind down in the early spring most years but has lasted as late as early June certain years. While the CDC highly recommends receiving the flu shot each year, the vaccine is more successful some years than others. This leads to an inconsistent and unique infection rate year-over-year.
Everybody should receive a flu shot each year, yet for children, people with compromised immune systems and people over 65 years of age, receiving a flu shot can be potentially life-saving. While healthy adults should be able to beat the flu after a week or so, its symptoms can be deadly for the aforementioned groups of people.
Flu symptoms include:
- Muscle soreness
- Vomiting (very common with children)
- Muscle Soreness
- Persistent Headaches
- Low Energy
Both Pneumonia and the less serious “Walking Pneumonia” can be caused by both a bacterial or viral infection. Pneumonia caused by viral infections are less serious but are not as treatable as Pneumonia caused by bacterial infections. This is because with bacterial infection Pneumonia cases, while potentially deadly, can be treated using antibacterials
Pneumonia is defined as an inflammation of the lungs that often causes a fluid to build up inside of the lungs. About 50,000 people die each year in the United States from Pneumonia. Most cases involve individuals with autoimmune diseases, weak immune systems (elderly, infants, etc…), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) and heart disease.
Pneumonia symptoms include:
- Chest Pain
- Sputum-Producing Cough
- The ‘Chills’
- Breathing Difficulty
For diagnosis and treatment for any of the above illnesses, visit us at FirstCall Medical Center. Our walk-in urgent care center can diagnose a number of winter illnesses and provide treatment. If necessary, we can also refer you to a specialist or prescribe medication for treatment. Visit us today or call us for more information at 410-730-3399.