It’s that time of year again. It’s not unusual to wake up with a sore throat, suffer from congestion or even catch the flu during the fall and winter months. If you come down with a sickness this year, it’s essential to know as much as possible about the illness so you can recover as quickly as possible.
The Best Way To Avoid Illness?
Getting your annual flu vaccination will help prevent you from getting the flu in the first place. However, if you find yourself under the weather this season, consider visiting your local CareNow® for a professional diagnoses and treatment plan.
Winter Health Tips: The Common Cold
Although colds can strike at any time of the year, they peak during winter. Over 1 billion people will develop a cold each year in the United States. Symptoms vary depending on the strain, but usually include nasal congestion, scratchy throats and sneezing.
There’s no surefire way to combat the common cold, but plenty of rest and fluids, paired with decongestants and cough syrup, will definitely help. Using a humidifier in your bedroom at night can also help add moisture to air and loosen congestion.
It’s easy to confuse the common cold with seasonal allergies, but there’s a big difference between the two. If you notice your throat feeling sore during high-pollen seasons and you are also experiencing sneezing, then seasonal allergies may be at fault. If you’re suffering from seasonal allergies, there are a few winter health tips you can utilize to keep them at bay.
- Take your allergy medicine every day
- Get plenty of vitamin C
- Avoid the outdoors
- Seek out an allergist
While there is no cure for seasonal allergies, staying indoors during days that are particular dry and windy, shower after you’ve been outside to remove pollen and don’t hang laundry outdoors.
Commonly associated with the common cold and seasonal allergies, a runny nose is ultimately harmless, but can be annoying. If you’ve got a runny nose, it is likely caused by allergies, a cold, sinus infection or the flu.
The best type of over-the-counter cold medication for a runny nose is an antihistamine. This type of medication relieves symptoms like sneezing, runny noses and itchy watery eyes. Some of the most popular options are Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec. You can also apply a warm compress over your forehead and nose to help alleviate sinus pressure and congestion.
Nasal congestion is caused by a variety of things. During the winter, it’s usually a result of allergens or a cold. Congestion occurs when your nasal passage becomes irritated. The membranes in your nose create extra mucus in attempt to flush out the irritant.
Here are a couple things you can do to lessen the effects of congestion:
- Get plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is one of the most well known ways to beat congestion. According to WebMD.com, you should always try and drink at least eight, 8-oz glasses of water or juice every day. Drinking enough fluid keeps you hydrated and prevents your throat from aching.
- Don’t sniff it back in. Don’t hold the mucus in! If you are able to get it out, do it. You’ll have less pressure in your head.
If you’re looking for a quick way to knock out that stuffy nose, try the following:
- Get into a hot shower and breathe in the steam. Try placing a wet washcloth directly on your face for maximum effect.
- Try an over-the-counter saline spray.
- Nighttime fixes
- Sleep with a humidifier next to your bed.
- Put an extra pillow under your head at night.
Most Important Winter Health Tips: Avoiding The Notorious Flu Virus
Everyone dreads catching the flu, which is spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. You’ve heard it a million times and you’ll hear it a million more: wash your hands! It’s one of the easiest ways to stop the flu from spreading.
Caused by a virus that infects the lungs and airways, the flu comes with a myriad of symptoms including:
- Sudden fever
- Chills and shakes
- Extreme fatigue
- Muscle aches
Getting your annual flu vaccination will help prevent you from getting the flu in the first place. However, if you’ve been unlucky enough to come down the flu, you should get plenty of rest, increase your fluid intake and use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and aches. It’s always wise to consult a healthcare professional to diagnose the flu and receive advice.
Norovirus A.K.A The Stomach Flu
The highly contagious Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the United States. Besides being called the stomach flu, it is also referred to as the “winter vomiting bug.” As you can imagine, vomiting and diarrhea are the two most common symptoms.
The elderly and children are especially at risk. Dehydration is a big problem for patients with the Norovirus. It’s very important to drink plenty of fluids and to stay hydrated in order to recover as quickly as possible.
Most sore throats are caused by viral infections and are often accompanied by other symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, cough, a mild fever, and fatigue. Allergies can also cause a sore or scratchy throat and can be accompanied by sneezing, and itchy watery eyes.
There are several ways to ease the soreness of your throat at home without needing to go to the drug store:
- Gargle with warm salt water.
- Take a hot shower with a face rag and steam the soreness out.
- Crank up the heat and gently place a warm, damp towel directly on your face. (Doing this will not only make your throat feel better, it’ll also ease any congestion you’re experiencing.)
- Take a dose of anti-inflammatory medication like Advil or Aleve.
CareNow® Can Help
If your situation hasn’t improved within five days or if you have a fever over 100°F and you're unable to wait for an appointment with your primary doctor, come visit us at your local CareNow® location.
Be sure to check in online to avoid the waiting room!
If you believe you're experiencing a life threatening emergency, seek immediate medical attention should you experience trouble moving neck or mouth, difficulty breathing or a swollen neck.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.