5 Common Winter Illnesses and How to Treat
The Common Cold
The Common Cold is a viral upper respiratory infection with cases seen year round just about everywhere. However, the cold, wet Winter weather tends to bring a spike in cases.
Symptoms: a Cough, Sore Throat, Sneezing, Runny Nose
Treatment: While there is no cure or vaccine for the common cold, it can generally be managed at home and does not require subscription medication. Rest along with a number of over-the-counter cold medication such as Ibuprofen, Sudafed and throat lozenges can help manage the symptoms.
Influenza – The Flu
is a common viral infection that attacks the lungs, nose, and throat. Usually, the body does well fighting the infection on its own, but in rare cases, the Flu can be deadly to at-risk groups.
Symptoms: Fever, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, cough. These symptoms usually persist for 4-5 days, though the illness and consequent contagiousness can last for a week or more.
Treatment: Most people with the flu recover within one to two weeks without treatment. However, serious complications of the flu can occur. Call your doctor or nurse immediately if:
- You feel short of breath or have trouble breathing
- You have pain or pressure in your chest or stomach
- You have signs of being dehydrated, such as dizziness when standing or not passing urine
- You feel confused
- You cannot stop vomiting or you cannot drink enough fluid
Norovirus (The Stomach Flu)
A contagious viral “stomach bug”
Symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache, body aches
Treatment: As it is a viral infection, Norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics. The best remedy is rest and fluids. Electrolyte-rich sports drinks without caffeine or alcohol can help rehydrate and replenish vitamins your body loses over the course of the illness.
A bacterial infection affecting the tonsils, throat and very rarely, the heart and liver.
Symptoms: a sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Treatment: Treated with oral antibiotics following testing and diagnosis by a medical professional. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be used to alleviate symptoms
Pneumonia comes in several forms, but broadly, is an infection that inflames air sacs in the lungs that may then fill with fluid.
Symptoms: Symptoms include a cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, sweaty or clammy skin.
Treatment: Some forms are preventable with a vaccine, though treatment with antibiotics following lab testing and diagnosis by a medical professional is more common.
“Fun” Fact: Most of these illnesses have nothing to do with exposure to cold weather. One of the major reasons contagious illness is so prevalent in the winter is that people spend more time indoors in close proximity to each other.