winter illnessesWith winter rapidly approaching, a number of winter’s most common illnesses have already arrived. You have likely noticed more and more people coughing or sneezing on the subway, or at your workplace. Unfortunately, winter illness season is already here and it’s here to stay, until at least the early spring.

While many of these illnesses are very similar, they differ in their severity, making it necessary to distinguish the differences between them:

Influenza

Influenza, or “the flu“, is a viral infection that, while extremely common, contributes to thousands of deaths each year in the United States. Due to its high communicability, approximately 5-20% of Americans contract the flu each year. For people with compromised immune systems, such as infants and people over 65, the flu can be potentially deadly.

Its symptoms include:

  • Cough/Cold Symptoms
  • Persistent Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting (common in children)
  • Soreness
  • High Fever

The defense against the Flu is the flu shot. We administer flu shots 7 days a week on a walk-in basis. If you’re experiencing flu symptoms, we can additionally provide care to help expedite your body’s healing process.

The Common Cold

Being a viral infection, the common cold and the flu belong within the same family of infectious diseases. The flu and the common cold can be contracted from countless number of different viruses. However, common cold is also much less severe than the flu. Despite their similar symptoms, colds are largely innocuous and rarely require hospitalization. However, unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for the common cold.

Cold symptoms include:

  • Runny Nose
  • Sore Throat
  • Occasional Loss of Appetite
  • Coughing

Bronchitis

While Bronchitis is classified as an inflammation occurring inside the bronchial tubes, it is often caused by viruses, such as a cold or influenza. Dry, hollow coughing is the most common symptom of bronchitis. Yet, what helps medical providers distinguish bronchitis from other illnesses is its ability to thicken or discolor patient’s mucus. Acute bronchitis is very common during the winter months, primarily because it can be triggered by the flu; symptoms will typically dissipate after just a few days.

However, chronic bronchitis is very different from acute bronchitis, as it’s a constant medical condition that affects mostly smokers. Chronic bronchitis is one of the illnesses that constitutes as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Bronchitis’ most common symptoms are:

  • Mild Breathing Difficulty
  • Minor Chest Pain
  • Coughing
  • Discolored Mucus (called “Sputum”)
  • Mild Fever

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is particularly common among young children. Caused by the “streptococcal” bacteria, strep throat inflames the membranes surrounding the tonsils and throat. This will then cause pain in the patient’s throat, contributing to many people misdiagnosing the illness as just a cold. However, it’s important to visit the doctor if your child is experiencing a sore throat, as strep throat can lead to a number of potentially hazardous complications, including Acute Rheumatic Fever. While the body can treat strep on its own, it is highly recommended for infected patients to take antibiotics to prevent these complications from developing.

Strep throat symptoms include:

  • Sore Throat
  • Swollen Tonsils
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an often serious inflammation of the lungs caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. The infection has the potential to be fatal, if proper care isn’t taken once the lungs begin to fill with fluid. People most at risk for developing pneumonia are smokers, people with autoimmune diseases, asthma, COPD, and heart diseases. Pneumonia cases caused by bacterial infections can be treated by an antibiotic. While viral pneumonia infections cannot be treated using an antibiotic; they’re generally not as serious as bacterial pneumonia cases, and symptoms can be alleviated using cold medications and pain relievers. Because pneumonia can be caused by the same viruses that cause Influenza and colds, pneumonia is most common during the winter months.

Pneumonia symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Chest Pain
  • Phlegm-Producing Cough
  • Reduced Body Temperatures
  • Breathing Difficulty

If you experience any of these illnesses, visit us here at AFC Urgent Care Bronx. If you’re still in need of a flu shot, we can administer a vaccine for you; no appointment necessary. For more information, call us at 718.925.4400.