How to get care for winter illnesses

2:21 PM, Jan 19, 2018
11:27 AM, Dec 12, 2018

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">It's not just you (and your friends complaining on social media). </span></span>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif"> reports that this flu season is particularly bad.</span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">But if you're miserable and coughing, you want to be sure to get the best care without greater risk for infection or spreading your illness, so before rushing off to an urgent care or emergency room, check with your primary care physician. Calling your doctor first can help you determine the severity and how to get care for your illness. Plus, it can save you unnecessary trips outside of your home or contact with crowded waiting rooms. After all, staying home as much as you are able is the best way to rest and help keep others from getting sick.  </span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Here are more tips to help you weather this winter's germs.</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Understanding different respiratory tract infections</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">What most people call colds or the flu, doctors recognize as different types of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) usually caused by viruses and sometimes by bacteria.</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">These are further grouped into upper or lower respiratory tract infections, with upper RTIs including the common cold, tonsillitis, sinusitis, laryngitis and flu.</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Lower RTIs include flu in the lower respiratory tract, bronchitis, and pneumonia.</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">The main way that people </span></span>pass along these diseases</span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif"> is through the air, when someone coughs or sneezes, but you can also get them by touching something an infected person handled and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes.</span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Stay home and rest when possible</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">In the winter, waiting rooms at hospitals and clinics get crowded, and, ironically, if you're stuck in a waiting room, chances are you could pick up even more germs, according to a </span></span>study from the University of Bradford</span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">.</span></span>

Matthew Birkle MD</span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">,</span></span></span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif"> Medical Director for </span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">TriHealth Priority Care, has seen disease spread all too often and counsels his patients to stay at home, rest and use over-the-counter medications for cold and congestion relief.</span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">"Don't touch or share anything around those who could be ill," Birkle said. "If you think you have the flu, then call your family physician and stay at home so you don't spread it to your school or workplace."</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">However, if you're over 65 and have been hospitalized recently, have diabetes or have other chronic health issues, </span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">always see your doctor when you get a respiratory tract infection of any kind; don't risk waiting it out at home.</span></span></span></span>




<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">When to see your doctor</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Some situations that should have you heading to the doctor when you have a respiratory issue include the following: if you're coughing up bloody mucus and phlegm (which suggests that you have pneumonia); you have a pre-existing heart, lung, liver or kidney condition; your cough has persisted for more than three weeks; you're losing weight; you have chest pain, you have a persistent high fever or there are any lumps in your neck.</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">However, it's always better to contact and see your </span></span>primary care physician</span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif"> before seeking one in an urgent care clinic or emergency room.</span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">"An established relationship with a family doctor allows for your care to be more personalized by someone who knows you and has access to all your medical history, allergies and medications," Dr. Birkle said.</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">When to seek immediate medical attention</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Some situations do call for more urgent action, including visiting urgent care such as TriHealth Priority Care or, in the most severe cases, going to the </span></span>emergency room</span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">. To help patients avoid long waits and receive care as quickly as possible, </span></span>TriHealth Priority Care<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif"> allows you to view current wait times and “reserve your spot” online. </span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">As mentioned above, if you're over 65 or have a serious condition that weakens your immune system, don't hesitate to get help.</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">If you can't reach or get to your doctor but have severe flu or pneumonia symptoms, Dr. Birkle suggests you should go to the emergency room, especially if you are coughing up blood, are losing consciousness, can't get hydrated, have extreme body aches or have a high fever.</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Preventing the flu</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">You can help prevent yourself and your family from getting the flu in the first place by getting a flu shot every October. Even getting one late in the flu season can be beneficial. It takes up to two weeks for the full benefits of a flu vaccination to take effect, so if you haven’t received one it’s better to act quickly to have protection for the remainder of the season.  </span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">You can also </span></span>reduce the risk</span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif"> of contracting or spreading the flu by frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your face, avoiding crowds or others who are infected and staying home from work or school if you are experiencing symptoms. </span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Finding a doctor</span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">If you've recently moved or need to find a new general practitioner, don't wait to become ill to locate a doctor. </span></span></span></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Call the TriHealth physician finder line </span></span>(513-569-5400</span></span><span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">) or visit the </span></span>TriHealth website.</span></span>


<span style="font-size:10.5pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Verdana&quot;,sans-serif">Take the quiz below to find out how much you know about winter illnesses.</span></span></span></span>

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