Winter brings an influx of those affected by cold, flu and other infections. With a plethora of causes and symptoms, St. Luke’s Urgent Care Physician Dr. Jonathan Rill explains how to prepare yourself and your family this season.
For starters, Rill points out that there is a large symptom overlap among allergies, colds, influenza and bacterial infections. “Everyone is different,” Rill says. “Two people with the same illness can have different symptoms. For example, people with Strep throat or the flu may or may not have a fever.” Furthermore, a person can start with a common cold that can later develop into a more serious infection.
However, Rill explains that the first symptoms of sickness do not mean you’re beyond hope. “Runny nose, sore throat, fatigue, et cetera, are signs that your body’s defense mechanisms are turned on,” he says. “That is why many different germs can cause similar symptoms. Just because your body’s defenses are turned on, does not mean you will develop a full blown illness.”
When these symptoms start to show, Rill suggests combating them by staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and avoiding strenuous physical activity. “Limit exposure to sick people until you are better,” Rill adds, admitting that this is difficult for families caring for sick children.
The hardest advice to hear amidst our busy lives is to stay home, but Rill affirms that staying home to rest is best. “Sick people going to school or work are one of the ways flu epidemics are sustained,” he says. Once someone has a fever – categorized as a temperature greater than 100 degrees – they should remain homebound, except to see their healthcare provider, until they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours. Rill also recommends that if an individual has tested positive for the flu, with or without a fever, they should stay home for five days, or wear a mask when out.
St. Luke’s Urgent Care – Ladue, 8857 Ladue Road, Ladue Crossing Center, St. Louis, 314-576-8189, stlukes-stl.com/urgent-care
Viruses and bacterial infections are spread by small respiratory droplets that are released when you cough. “If you are coughing, most likely you are contagious,” says Dr. Jonathan Rill, St. Luke’s Urgent Care physician. Here’s what to do if you or those around you are sick:
- Cover your cough by using tissues or handkerchiefs, or cough into your elbow.
- Use face masks to cover your nose and mouth. This works equally well for both sick people to prevent the spread of their illness and for healthy people to avoid being exposed to an illness.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use antibacterial hand gel.
- If you have been around a sick individual, practice healthy body and hand hygiene.
- It is never too late to get the flu vaccine, available at all St. Luke’s Urgent Care Centers.