As the weather cools and winter is upon us, it’s important to be aware of the different types of respiratory illnesses that may affect us. From common colds and flus to more serious illnesses like pneumonia, understanding how to prevent and treat these illnesses can help keep you healthy through the colder months. Let’s take a look at some of the top respiratory illnesses to watch out for this winter. And, remember, if you’re feeling under the weather, Urgent Care of Fairhope is just a short drive away.
The most common type of respiratory illness is the common cold, which can be caused by any one of several hundred viruses. Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, sore throat, headache, fatigue, runny nose and fever. The best way to prevent colds is good hygiene such as washing your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The flu is one of the most common respiratory illnesses that occur during winter months. It is caused by a virus which can be spread through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms usually appear within 1-4 days after being infected with the virus and include fever, chills, sore throat, headache, body aches, fatigue, dry cough, and sometimes nausea or vomiting. The best way to protect yourself from getting the flu is to get an annual flu vaccine.
Bronchitis is an infection of the bronchial tubes caused by a virus or bacteria. It causes inflammation in the bronchi which results in coughing up mucus. Common symptoms include chest pain when coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, and fever. To help prevent bronchitis it’s important to avoid contact with people who already have it; get plenty of rest; drink lots of fluids; and avoid smoking or secondhand smoke exposure. If you do become infected with bronchitis there are medications available from your doctor that can help alleviate symptoms.
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs caused by bacteria or viruses that affects air sacs in the lungs known as alveoli. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough with mucus production, chest pain when breathing or coughing and shortness of breath. Vaccines are available for some types of pneumonia so check with your doctor if you think you may be at risk for developing it this winter season.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
RSV—short for Respiratory Syncytial Virus—is a common virus that primarily affects the lungs and airways. It is most commonly found in children under the age of 5, but adults can get it as well. RSV is highly contagious and is spread through contact with saliva or mucus, usually through coughing and sneezing (though even just touching an object that has been contaminated with the virus can lead to infection). The virus can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild cold-like symptoms to severe breathing problems that may require hospitalization. If left untreated, severe cases of RSV can lead to pneumonia and other complications such as bronchiolitis or croup.
This winter season be sure to stay informed about all types of respiratory illnesses so you know what signs and symptoms to look out for should they arise in yourself or someone close to you. You should also be sure to save Urgent Care of Fairhope in your contact list; our convenient Fairhope urgent care is your source for compassionate and professional care when illness strikes. Stay safe – and don’t forget your scarf!