Flu season is officially upon us -- and if the outcome is anything like last year, Americans need to be concerned.
Every year, anywhere from 5% to 20% of the U.S. population comes down with the flu. That may make this virus seem quite common and, therefore, easy to underplay. But those who do contract the flu are often at risk for serious health complications.
In fact, approximately 200,000 Americans are hospitalized due to flu-related problems during the average year.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2016-2017 flu season was significantly worse than most. The CDC website estimates that 30.9 million people contracted influenza and around 600,000 people were hospitalized due to the flu. That’s 400,000 more hospitalizations than what we normally see.
It’s likely that many of those illnesses and subsequent hospitalizations could have been prevented if patients had gotten their flu shot for the year. The flu vaccination has been in existence for over 60 years and it’s undoubtedly the most effective form of flu prevention. Not only could your yearly flu shot keep you from getting sick, but it could also protect the health of those around you.
For someone in their 20s or 30s who is in good health, the flu can still pack a wallop. The flu may take one to four days after contraction to start manifesting symptoms, but once you start feeling the effects, you’re in for quite a ride. The flu can run its course within three to seven days, but many people experience lingering symptoms for up to two weeks. These symptoms can include fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, headaches, and even vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Your symptoms might not even be limited to what’s listed above. Severe complications can develop as a result of the flu, which can include pneumonia, sinus infections, infections of the brain or heart, multi-organ failure, and sepsis -- some of which can be fatal.
Anyone may be at risk for such complications (even if you’re normally in excellent health), but those who are particularly vulnerable to flu infections are also prone to serious complications. These populations include seniors over the age of 65, very young children and infants, and those who have pre-existing health conditions.
If you want to stay healthy this winter and keep flu hospitalizations down in your area, it’s important to be proactive. Choosing to get your yearly flu shot can protect you from the aforementioned symptoms and will ensure safety for those who are unable to receive the shot or who are more likely to experience serious complications from this virus.
Heartburn is a burning sensation you experience in your chest if you have a gastroesophageal reflux disease. However, anyone can experience heartburn if they're sensitive to certain foods.
Unfortunately, there are other diseases and illnesses that can mimic the appearance of heartburn. Here are some examples that might result in you visiting emergency medical physicians.
Heart disease is the lack of blood flow making its way toward the heart, also known as angina. However, this symptom can often mimic the feeling of heartburn in some people.
The key to identifying whether your symptoms are heartburn or angina lies in when the onset occurs. Angina typically results in the feeling of heartburn following strenuous activity, especially if you're over the age of 50 or have hypertension. If you're worried about having heart disease because of your chest pain, don't hesitate to visit a 24-hour emergency care clinic.
Serious restriction of blood flow to the heart can result in a heart attack. Many don't recognize when they're first experiencing a heart attack since it mimics the feeling of a bad heartburn. But if you're experiencing these symptoms after a large meal or other strenuous activity, it's best to get to the closest urgent care location possible. Luckily, there were more than 7,357 urgent care centers across the U.S. in 2016.
Your pancreas is located near your stomach and plays an important role in your digestion. A pancreas that isn't working properly, either due to failure or cancer, can create difficulties in the digestive process leading to heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion. This makes it difficult to diagnose since it often hides behind other symptoms of heartburn.
Gallstones are hardened stones of bile that block your ducts and cause pain. A person with gallstones usually feels this sharp, cramping, or even dull pain in the middle or upper-right of the abdomen directly following a meal. If your symptoms persist after taking an antacid, it's best to visit your local emergency medical physicians.
If you suspect your heartburn might be something worse, don't hesitate to visit the emergency care physicians at LegacyER. We offer 24-hour emergency care to ensure you get the best help when you need it. Look for our multiple locations online today when you need help.
As temperatures start to drop, parents know what may be coming: seasonal sickness. But of course, child illnesses occur throughout the year. In fact, the average toddler comes down with six to eight colds per year, and the average school-aged child may contract as many as 12 colds on an annual basis! Because children get sick anywhere from once a month to once every two months, it’s no wonder that nearly 22 million school days are lost every year due to the common cold.
Part of the problem, of course, is that germs can be found just about anywhere -- and young children are extremely likely to pick them up. The germs that cause colds and even the flu can survive on classroom surfaces for up to 72 hours! The National Public Health and Safety Foundation also found that the average classroom water fountain spigot was found to have 2.7 million colony forming units of aerobic bacteria per square inch. That’s far more than classroom computer keyboards, classroom animal cages, and bathroom toilet seats combined. To make matters worse, children touch and retouch more than 300 surfaces in a half-hour span -- and every three minutes, a child brings their hands up to their nose or mouth. It’s actually surprising that children don’t get sick more often than they already do.
While you obviously can’t prevent all illnesses, there are healthy habits parents can encourage in their children to cut down on the likelihood that they’ll get sick. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the best ways to safeguard your health is to wash your hands properly and frequently. As soon as your child comes home from school or comes indoors from playing outside, they should wash their hands. You should teach your child to lather their hands thoroughly with soap, scrub together for at least 20 seconds (e.g., the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice through), rinse, and dry. Be sure to remind your child in creative ways until hand-washing becomes an automatic activity.
Frequent colds cause enough concern as it is, but germs aren’t the only hazard children face at school. Recess can be a great thing for your child’s health, as it’s a good way to promote physical activity. However, playground equipment can actually be quite dangerous. U.S. emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children under the age of 14 every year for playground-related injuries. Many of these injuries can be serious; around 45% of playground injuries involve concussions, dislocations, severe fractures, internal injuries, and even amputations.
To make sure your child stays safe while on the playground, you should take a visual assessment of the equipment and the ground itself. The playground area should be covered with soft material and free of trip hazards. There should also be guardrails in place and all equipment should be in good working condition. Supervision during playtime is important too, as this can restrict activities to ones that are age-appropriate (and subsequently prevent physical injuries).
Your child’s school should always be a healthy and safe environment. Unfortunately, there are potential risks both in the classroom and outside on the playground. But if you’re proactive about establishing and maintaining healthy habits and smart decision-making, you can help your child stay well this season.
Though an oft-forgotten type of injury, burns are incredibly common. Over-exposure to the sun, touching hot surfaces, mishandling flames and chemicals, and friction against the skin cause thousands of burns every day.
While always painful, not all burns are medical emergencies. Before calling the doctor, use this guide to burn types and severities to know when to use the first aid kit, when to head to a walk in clinic or urgent care, and when to dial 911:
Burns by Severity
First Degree Burns are considered the least severe type of burn. First degree burns lead to reddening of the top, outermost layer of skin, and cause mild pain. Sunburns are one type of first degree burn. These burns can usually be treated at home using ice packs, skin care products like aloe vera, and over-the-counter pain medications.
Second Degree Burns are considered more serious than first degree burns. These burns go through the epidermis, or outermost layer of skin, to reach the inner dermis. These burns cause swelling, redness, blisters, and moderate to severe pain. This kind of burn warrants a doctor’s appointment or a trip to an urgent care clinic. A doctor will prescribe antibiotic ointment to prevent infections, and recommend pain management techniques.
Third Degree Burns are the most serious type of burn. Though often painful, some third degree burns penetrate so deeply that they numb the tissue. Third degree burns result in blackened, charred skin. Healing these burns requires emergency care and extended hospital treatments, which sometimes involve a skin graft. As the skin heals, aggressive pain management techniques are often necessary.
Do I Need a Doctor to Treat My Burn?
While serious burns obviously need immediate medical treatment, some types of burns and burn pain can leave patients unsure of how to proceed. Generally, contact a doctor or head to an urgent care clinic if the burn is:
If you’re still unsure, consider visiting urgent care to be safe. According to a recent study, 44% to 65% of all ER episodes could have been treated at urgent care clinics. If the wound isn’t serious enough for the emergency room but is still causing pain, urgent care might be a great choice.
Stay informed about burns to know when to treat them at home, and when to seek professional medical help. Quick action can prevent burns from worsening, causing infections, and can reduce patient pain for a more comfortable and speedy recovery.
The Urgent Care Association of America's 2016 Benchmarking Report found that the most common illnesses diagnosed at urgent care centers in 2015 were acute upper respiratory infection, acute sinusitis, acute pharyngitis, cough, and acute bronchitis. That being said, bronchitis isn't always easy to diagnose, as its symptoms are also related to other respiratory issues. While bronchitis is often caused by smoking, it's characterized as a worsening cough that persists for two to three months. Here's what you need to know about seeking treatment for bronchitis.
Bronchitis affects approximately 8.7 million U.S. adults each year. It occurs when the bronchioles, the small tubes within main tubes, bronchi, in the lungs, become inflamed. Sometimes, a common cold can essentially turn into bronchitis. This is typically a result of the increased mucus production and irritants created and passed through your lungs and airway. Keep in mind that those who smoke or live with smokers are at a perpetually higher risk of developing the illness. This is also the case for those who may have been exposed to air irritants and toxins, like chemicals present in some work sites.
Bronchitis onsets in both acute and chronic forms. While acute bronchitis starts suddenly and persists for only a few weeks, chronic bronchitis is typically a result of smoking and can occur for as often as two to three months each year.
Could You Have Pneumonia?
Difficulty breathing is a common symptom of bronchitis, but it's sometimes confused with pneumonia, another serious illness. While pneumonia onsets as an infection in the lungs, it's considered to have worse symptoms than those associated with bronchitis. Fortunately, both can be treated quickly and conveniently. Just seek convenient medical treatment for a proper diagnosis and antibiotic prescription.
In the 2015 fiscal year, urgent care centers reported seeing an average of nearly 12,000 patients. That amounts to an average of three patient care visits per hour or 32 visits each day. Local emergency clinics like urgent care are designed to treat multiple types of respiratory issues, so if you feel as though you may have bronchitis or another respiratory illness, it's important to seek proper treatment immediately. For more information about local emergency clinics or urgent care clinics, contact LegacyER.
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