Be in the Know About Winter Illnesses
January 2021 Issue - Paisley Prescriptions
Be in the Know About Winter Illnesses
January can get you down with more than the blues. It’s the month down South when the cold really kicks in, and brings with it common winter illnesses such as cold, flu and respiratory infections. Ugh! These winter woes can make you feel terrible. That’s why it’s important to know as much as you can about how to avoid and rapidly cure these sneezing, coughing, stuffy, achy, miserable ailments.
by Dr. Elena Victoria Bryant
How contagious am I? The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. There are two main types of Influenza, Type A and B. These are spread via droplets through sneezing, coughing and sometimes talking. It can spread through the air as far as six feet away. Influenza is most contagious one day before your symptoms start. That is why it is important to always cover your mouth when sneezing and coughing, and to wash your hands frequently. Once you are fever-free for 24 hours without the aid of fever-reducing agents, you are no longer contagious.
Treatments: Antibiotics are not used to treat viral infections, but there are prescription medications called antiviral drugs that can be used to treat the flu,. These are usually offered as treatment for individuals who are at high risk of serious complications. These individuals may have asthma, diabetes, immunocompromised health conditions, kidney disease, heart disease and more. These drugs are not sold over the counter and require a prescription from your health care provider. Antiviral drugs work best when started within two days of your illness and may shorten your illness by one day. Antiviral drugs are not a substitute for the flu vaccine, which is still the best way to prevent seasonal flu and its potential complications. Your child can start to receive the flu vaccine at 6 months of age.
When should I see a doctor? Most healthy people who get the flu have mild disease and do not need to see a medical provider, or receive antiviral drugs. However, high risk individuals (adults 65 and older, pregnant women, young children and individuals with certain medical conditions) should contact their health care provider early in the illness so they can receive antivirals, if indicated. The emergency room (ER) should only be used for individuals who are very sick. Do not go to the ER if you have a mild illness, as you may get sick with flu from other individuals there. Call or see your health care provider if you have questions.
Should I get a Covid test? Many of the symptoms you have with the flu can also be seen with COVID-19. Diagnostic testing for the flu and COVID may be helpful in getting the correct diagnosis.
Best advice to recover quickly: Stay at home as much as possible while ill and rest until you’ve gone 24 hours without fever. If unable to stay at home, wear a face mask to keep from coughing, sneezing or talking on others. Wash your hands frequently and stay hydrated with fluids and soups. Take fever reducing agents, if needed. Remember not to give children or teenagers aspirin, as a serious complication called Reye’s syndrome may develop.
Elena Victoria Bryant, M.D., is physician with Southeast Georgia Physician Associates Community Care Center, 3300 4th Street, Brunswick.
by Dr. Margaret Carter
How contagious am I? The cold is a highly contagious illness that can be caused by a variety of viruses. The common cold typically creeps up. Sneezing today. Tomorrow you’re stuffy. The next day might add a cough or sore throat, but symptoms are usually mild enough that you can keep going.
Treatments: There is no vaccine for the common cold. Viral infections like the common cold do not respond to antibiotics and are best managed by treating symptoms with over-the-counter products.
When should I see a doctor? For those in good health, with minor symptoms, reach into that medicine chest and use common sense to minimize spread to others. For people with underlying health conditions, or significant symptoms, talk with your health care provider to see if you should be tested for flu or Covid.
Best advice to recover quickly: When you’re sick, it has always been wise to minimize contact with others, cover your coughs/sneezes, clean surfaces, and wash your hands. Maintain social distance and wear a mask around others.
Margaret Carter, M.D., is a physician with Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Primary Care, with offices in Brunswick and on St. Simons Island, Ga.
by Dr. Harold L. Kent
Sinusitis is inflammation of the mucosal lining of the sinuses.
How contagious am I? Sinus infections are usually viral and can be contagious from before symptoms start until as long as two weeks after. Others can get the viral infection but may not get sick. Bacterial infections are less than 2% of cases and aren’t readily transmitted.
Treatments: Sinusitis treatment can include drinking lots of fluids, use of a Neti Pot, steam inhalation, humidifier, Tylenol, decongestants (limit to 3 days), and mucolytics medications.
When should I see a doctor? Sinusitis lasting more than 10 to 14 days may be bacterial, and you should see a physician, especially for a temp greater than 102 degrees, confusion, visual problems, stiff neck or sudden severe facial pain.
Should I get a Covid-19 test? Since there is a pandemic, a Covid test may be recommended.
Best advice to recover quickly: Don’t smoke, avoid dry air, wash hands frequently, don’t touch your face, avoid close contact with others and avoid things which other people touch frequently.
by Dr. Harold L. Kent
Bronchitis is inflammation of the mucosal lining of the bronchial tree.
How contagious am I? Bronchitis is frequently caused by cold or flu viruses and is contagious; coughing for a week or longer, especially with production of phlegm is suggestive of acute bronchitis. Contact with others should be avoided while symptoms persist.
When should I see a doctor? Some patients have chronic bronchitis due to smoking, and this type is not contagious. See a physician for symptoms lasting more than 10 days, severe cough that prevents sleep, chest pain, temperature more than 100.4 degrees, wheezing, unexpected weight loss, or blood in the sputum.
Should I get a Covid-19 test? Expect a Covid test if you have a temperature and shortness of breath.
Best advice to recover quickly: Fluids, Tylenol, humidified air and bronchodilators can help to recover from bronchitis. Smokers need to stop smoking. For documented bacterial infections, antibiotics will likely be prescribed. Further evaluation may involve getting a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. Patients with serious illnesses or who are immunocompromised may need more treatment.
Dr. Harold L. Kent, specializing in Bariatric & General Surgery, is owner of Georgia Coast Surgical Med Spa & More; 3226-F Hampton Avenue, Brunswick, Ga., 912-264-9724. Website: Georgiacoastsurgical.com, Facebook: Georgia Coast Surgical & Med Spa.
Seasonal Depression (SAD)
by Dr. Diane G. Bowen
How contagious am I? The days have gotten shorter, the weather has gotten colder, and social activities have wound down. The “winter blues” or winter depression is clinically called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it is a very real thing, not just a myth. If you are feeling down, tired and lacking motivation you may be experiencing SAD. Thankfully, this is not a communicable disease, meaning it cannot be passed between people and is, therefore, not contagious.
Activities to help fight the winter blues include:
• Getting outside on the warmer days, or working by
a window for some daylight
• Eating a well-balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruits
and vegetables. Try to avoid sugary foods and carbohydrates,
which the body craves during the colder months.
• Exercising for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week can help release mood-regulating Serotonin in the brain. Doing this outdoors is a double bonus, getting the daylight at the same time.
When should I see a physician? You should see a primary care physician if you have any of these symptoms of depression, or if any of these symptoms worsen.
Best advice to recover quickly:
Suggested vitamins and supplements that can help:
• Vitamin D. The recommended daily dosage for adults is 600IU.
• B Vitamins. I often suggest a B-Complex.
• Fish Oil
• St. John’s Wart
In trying to avoid common winter illnesses, should I incorporate vitamins or certain foods to stave them off?
by Dr. Diane G. Bowen
The best vitamins and some foods to take to prevent a cold or to help reduce the duration of a cold include:
Probiotics: Taking this consistently for at least 3 months leading into the flu season helps to decrease your chances of coming down with a cold. Yogurt, Kombucha and sauerkraut help, as well.
Vitamin C: These antioxidant properties will help to reduce the symptoms of a cold and decrease recovery periods. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits are a natural source of Vitamin C.
Zinc: This powerful supplement can help kill the cold virus when taken properly, at the first sign of cold symptoms, decreasing the duration of the cold significantly.
Echinacea: Used to battle cold symptoms and taken to prevent the common cold. The suggested daily dose in adults is 900mg in liquid form. It can be used for children, as well, but ask your pediatrician for proper dosage.
Diane G. Bowen, MD, is owner of Centered on Wellness and Golden Isles Center for Plastic Surgery, PC—1015 Arthur J. Moore Drive on St. Simons Island. Website: www.drdianebowen.com or call 912.638.0034; 912.634.1993.