Allergies Vs. Sinus Infection

seasonal allergies man holding tissue to noseAs we head into hay fever season, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of your congestion– are your sniffles due to seasonal allergies or a sinus infection? The two conditions share similar symptoms, but are not the same thing.

Seasonal Allergies

Allergies occur when our body’s immune system mistakes a harmless, everyday substance for a dangerous one. The body releases histamines to fight the perceived intruder (the allergen), causing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and scratchy throat.

Pollen and mold are major allergens for millions of people, and during springtime, as plant species begin releasing pollen particles into the air and outdoor molds release their spores, cold-like, allergy symptoms abound. These seasonal allergies are sometimes called “hay fever” or seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Sinus Infection (Rhinosinusitis)

In contrast, a sinus infection occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen and inflamed, usually due to a virus. Infected sinuses cause pain and pressure in the face, severe congestion, and nasal discharge that is cloudy, green, or yellow. Other possible symptoms include sore throat (due to post-nasal drip), fever, tooth pain, headache, and bad breath.

Evaluation and Treatment

While allergies and sinus infections are separate conditions, their treatments do share some overlap—if you are experiencing congestion with either, a decongestant medication can help to break up mucus in your nasal cavities.

Allergies can be treated with antihistamines, such as Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin. These medications block the body’s histamine-producing response and help to reduce symptoms. Allergies cannot be fully prevented, but you can minimize your exposure to known allergens.

For viral sinus infections, your best bet is to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Antibiotics are not effective in treating viruses. Nasal irrigation can also help to clear your sinuses, relieve dryness, and flush allergens. With proper care, most sinus infections go away on their own within 1-2 weeks.

If you’re suffering from seasonal allergies or a possible sinus infection, head into our clinic today. Our friendly medical team can offer quick treatment and expert advice to help you feel better.

Where To Take Your Sick Child For Care

Where To Take Your Sick Child For Care Your toddler is running a fever and acting extra fussy… Do you rush to the emergency room, or simply set an appointment with the pediatrician for next week? How about a trip to the local urgent care center? Determining what level of care your little one needs is often a difficult and confusing task. While your first step should always be a call to your pediatrician or an after-hours answering service to discuss symptoms, below, we offer some general guidelines for when and where to take your sick child for care.

When To Head Straight To The ER

A visit to the emergency room should be reserved for true medical emergencies, such as trauma, surgical procedures, and life-threatening situations.

Call 911 or go right to the ER if your child:

  • is under 2 months old and has a fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher
  • suffered a serious head or eye injury
  • suffered a serious burn or large cut
  • had a seizure
  • has a broken bone with visible swelling
  • shows signs of dehydration (dry lips and mouth, absence of urination for more than 12 hours, lethargy and confusion)
  • is having trouble breathing
  • ingested a poison, drug, or unknown substance

When To Use An Urgent Care

If your child is able to walk, talk, play and interact, it’s most likely not a medical emergency. For minor injuries and illnesses that require immediate attention, an urgent care center is a time- and cost-saving alternative to the ER.

Urgent care centers are able to treat a wide range of non life-threatening injuries and illnesses, and offer extended evening and weekend hours, usually with X-rays and lab testing on-site. Average waits are under an hour and the cost per visit is much less than the ER.

Common children’s medical issues that can be treated by an urgent care include:

  • Coughs/Stuffy Nose
  • Strep throat
  • Minor Cuts and Burns
  • Common Cold
  • The Flu
  • Pink Eye
  • Minor Broken Bones and Sprains
  • Ear Infections
  • Rashes
  • Asthma
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea

It’s also a good idea to call the urgent care ahead of your visit to verify what ages and conditions they treat. Based on your child’s symptoms, the clinic may direct you to the ER.

Now you know the basics of where to take your sick child for care. We’re here for you when an urgent care is the best choice.

Evaluating Your Low Back Pain

Almost every adult will deal with low back pain at some point in their life. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons people head to the doctor. While most cases of acute low back pain will go away without intervention, a visit to an urgent care center can help rule out more serious conditions and ensure you’re on the quickest road to feeling better.

Symptoms of Low Back Pain:

  • Muscle aches in lower spinal region
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that radiates down your leg
  • Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, standing or walking
  • Pain that improves with reclining

If you’re suffering from the symptoms above, head into our clinic whenever it’s convenient for you. Our providers can review your medical history and lifestyle for signs of systemic diseases, social and psychological stresses, and risk factors that may be contributing to your pain. We will perform a comprehensive physical exam to inspect the back, assess areas of tenderness, and evaluate your spinal mobility. Through this medical evaluation, we can help narrow down the cause of your low back pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Some common causes of lower back pain include:

Muscle and Ligament Strains

Lifting a heavy object or twisting suddenly can strain the muscles in your back or the ligaments of your spine and cause diffuse back pain.

Herniated Disc

The intervertebral discs that act as cushions in your spin can become compressed and bulge outward (herniation) or rupture, causing dull or sharp shooting low back pain.

Compression Fracture

Commonly caused by osteoporosis, a spinal compression fracture occurs when a bone in the spine collapses, leading to debilitating back pain.

Osteoarthritis (spondylosis)

A breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and discs in the lower back can make movement difficult and painful.

Skeletal irregularities

Scoliosis, a condition in which your spine curves to the side, can lead to back pain later in life.

Visit our clinic today to better understand your lower back pain. Our talented and friendly medical team can quickly evaluate your symptoms, and determine a treatment plan to help you find relief. Initial treatment for low back pain may include hot or cold packs, over-the-counter NSAIDs, cortisone injections, and physical therapy. Integrative medicines such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, yoga and massage may be helpful.

Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Flu

Could your tummy trouble be viral gastroenteritis, AKA the “stomach flu”?

Viral gastroenteritis, commonly known as the “stomach flu”, is an intestinal infection with some seriously miserable symptoms–think nausea, stomach cramps, and frequent beelines to the bathroom. A number of viruses can cause the unpleasant illness, though norovirus is usually to blame. Rotavirus, adenovirus, astrovirus, and sapovirus are also common.

These viruses are highly contagious, spread quickly from person to person, and are most active from October to April. You can catch a stomach bug simply from being near, shaking hands, or sharing personal items with someone who is sick. You can also develop the illness by consuming contaminated food or water (i.e. food poisoning). Anyone can get viral gastroenteritis, though young children, older adults, dormitory residents, and those with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable.

It’s important to note that the so-called “stomach flu” is not the same as influenza. Real flu is a respiratory infection, whereas gastroenteritis attacks the intestines.

Viral Gastroenteritis symptoms include:

  • Watery, nonbloody diarrhea*
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Nausea, vomiting or both
  • Occasional muscle aches or headache
  • Low-grade fever

*When you have an intestinal infection, your large intestine struggles to retain fluids, which leads to loose, watery stool, generally without smell or blood. Bloody diarrhea may indicate a more severe infection. Head straight to the ER if you notice this symptom.

Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis come on abruptly, and fortunately, don’t last long. The illness usually runs its course within 1-2 days. And since antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, the best treatment plan is plenty of rest and extra fluids. Dehydration as a result of diarrhea and vomiting can be a serious concern, so head into our urgent care center if:

  • You’re unable to keep liquids down for 24 hours
  • You experience vomiting that lasts more than two days
  • You’re dehydrated — signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, dry mouth, deep yellow urine or little or no urine, and severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • You’re vomiting blood
  • You have a fever above 104 F (40 C)

Our medical team is available 7 days a week to provide quick, quality treatment when you need it most!

Prevent Scars with Proper Wound Care

Cuts, scrapes, and minor wounds are a part of life, but lasting scars don’t have to be. Learn how to care for your wounds and prevent scars.

What Exactly Is A Scar?

When skin is injured, our body produces extra collagen in an effort to repair the wound as fast as possible. This fibrous healing tissue replaces normal skin, and becomes what we refer to as a scar. Most scars are flat and pale, though some may be raised (known as hypertrophic and keloid scars). The appearance of a scar depends on factors such as the size, shape, and location of the wound and the thickness and color of your skin. While some scarring is inevitable, there are some simple ways you can prevent and lessen lasting marks.

Follow These Wound Care Steps To Prevent Scars

  1. Know when to see a doctor. Wide-set or deep cuts may need stitches. If your wound is deep, painful, or becomes infected, head into our clinic as soon as possible. The key to preventing scars is treating wounds early. Our medical team can quickly evaluate and treat your injury to help you heal faster and minimize scarring. Make sure to follow your provider’s advice on follow-up care and when to get stitches removed.
  2. Keep the wound clean, moist, and covered. Wash your wound daily, using water, a soft wash cloth, and mild soap. After cleaning, apply petroleum jelly or Aquaphor, and a fresh bandage. This hydrates the wound to promote healing, and also protects it from germs and infection. Properly caring for your wound will allow your body to heal with less work and less scarring.
  3. Be patient. Wounds take many months to fully heal.  Avoid using hydrogen peroxide (it actually slows tissue growth), never pick scabs, and always wear sunscreen to prevent discoloration and further skin damage.  A simple, natural healing process is your best bet!

When you need fast treatment for minor cuts and wounds, head into our clinic. We can evaluate your injury and perform stitches, X-rays, and tetanus shots on-site, with no appointment necessary.

Back to School: Common Classroom Illnesses

The start of the school year brings with it new teachers, full backpacks, and plenty of homework. Unfortunately, it also brings an increased risk of illness for your children. Kids in school spend more time indoors, in close proximity to one another, sharing supplies, toys, — and infections. Learn about the common classroom illnesses that your kids might come home with, and how to care for them.

Pinkeye (conjunctivitis)

Pinkeye –or conjunctivitis– is one of the most common eye infections in children. It is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white of the eyeball. Pinkeye is most often the result of a virus, and can be very contagious; outbreaks sweep through schools and playgrounds.

Pinkeye symptoms include the hallmark pink or red appearance of the eye, along with eye itchiness, pain, swelling, and/or a feeling of sand in the eye. Discharge from the eye and tearing are also common. If you suspect your child has pinkeye, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the spread of the infection to others, and help ease symptoms. Visit our clinic at the first signs of symptoms of pinkeye.

Flu

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that occurs seasonally, usually from October through May (the bulk of the school year.) The flu is spread through tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Symptoms come on suddenly, can be mild to severe, and include fever, body aches, decreased appetite, headache, and severe exhaustion. The illness can lead to serious complications, especially in young children. If your little one develops symptoms, head into our clinic for a proper diagnosis and fast treatment.

To prevent flu, make sure your family receives the annual flu vaccine and teach your child good hygiene habits such as covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing.

Common Cold

The common cold is usually the result of rhinoviruses. These viruses spread through the air and close personal contact, and kids are more susceptible than adults. If your child comes down with a cold, they’ll likely be sneezy, and suffering from a runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, body aches, and a headache. They may also develop a mild fever. There is no cure for a cold. Just make sure your little one gets some rest and drinks plenty of fluids.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a contagious infection of the throat and tonsils caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. These bacteria spread easily through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Kids can get strep by breathing in these droplets, touching a surface where they are present, or by sharing food or drinks with someone who is sick.

Signs of strep include a sore and scratchy throat, difficulty swallowing, headache and fever. Your child’s tonsils may appear red and swollen, sometimes with white patches, along with tiny red spots at the back of the mouth and swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck. If your child is suffering from any symptoms that may indicate strep, it’s important to see a medical provider. Untreated strep throat can cause serious complications such as kidney inflammation and rheumatic fever.

As a parent, it’s difficult to see your child not feeling well. But, childhood illnesses are inevitable. Teach your kids healthy habits, keep track of their symptoms, and remember that our medical team is here to care for your family!

How to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

Sports are an amazing way to get exercise, be social, and improve your overall well-being. But every time you step onto the field, you run the risk of injury. Collisions, poor technique, overuse, or simply, bad luck can leave you with a serious medical issue.

Common sports injuries include:

  • Sprains: A sudden twist or fall can put too much stress on your joint, causing the ligaments to overextend or tear.
  • Muscle Strains: running, jumping, throwing, slips, and lifting heavy objects can all lead your muscle or tendon to stretch either suddenly or too much.
  • Fractures (Broken Bones): a collision in contact sports or landing wrong from a fall can lead to an acute fracture. Repetitive impact such as running or jumping can also cause stress fractures.
  • Knee Injuries: acute, sudden trauma, chronic overuse, or a combination of the two can lead to a variety of problems in the knee, the body’s most complex joint.
  • Shin Splints: improper shoes, high intensity workouts, or exercising without stretching can lead to aching shins due to too much stress on the shin bone and its connective tissues.
  • Dislocations: force from a hit or fall can push the bones in a joint out of alignment. Finger, hand, and shoulder dislocations are the most common bones affected.

While some sports injuries are bound to happen, many common sports injuries are preventable. Take the following steps to reduce your risk:

  1. Don’t try to do too much, too soon. Build up your endurance and increase the intensity as your fitness improves. A little pre-participation training can help build muscle and reduce overuse injuries.
  2. Always begin activity with a gentle warm-up to increase blood flow to the muscles and improve your flexibility. Cool-down with some light stretching.
  3. Make sure the playing field is safe and well-maintained. Watch for sprinklers, holes, and other tripping hazards.
  4. Wear protective gear that is appropriate to your sport – helmets, shin guards, knee pads, etc. Clothes and shoes that fit properly are also important!
  5. Learn the correct form and techniques involved in your sport.
  6. Ensure children in team sports are matched on skill level, weight and physical maturity. All children should have a sports physical before starting a new activity.

If you suffer a sports injury, know that our medical team is available to care for you 7 days a week.

Simply walk in to receive fast, affordable treatment for sprains, strains, fractures, pain, and dislocations. We can also refer you to a specialist if medically necessary and help coordinate your care.

Did you know there are different types of headaches?

Whether your headache is throbbing, squeezing, mild, or severe, one feeling is universal: you want it to go away!

types of headachesWhen it comes to any pain in the head region, most of us will label it as “just a headache”, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, and move on with our day. But, headaches are much more complicated than this! There are over 100 types of headaches, each with its own unique causes, symptoms, and remedies. Learn about the most common types of headaches so that the next time head pain strikes, you can get a more specific diagnosis, and a better treatment plan.

Headaches fall into two many categories: primary and secondary.

A primary headache occurs because of the headache condition itself, and is not due to an underlying disease. The most common primary headaches include:

  • Migraine: A severe, throbbing headache that usually occurs on one side of the head. Symptoms include muscle tension, nausea, and vomiting, as well as increased sensitivity to light and sound.
  • Cluster Headaches: A series of relatively short, but intensely painful headaches that occur everyday for weeks or months at a time. Sufferers experience one sided pain, usually centered around one eye, and symptoms such as, red or teary eyes, runny or stuffy nose, flushing or sweating of the face or a sense of agitation.
  • Tension Headache: Head pain that is dull and aching, and feels like a tight band around the head.

If you have a stable pattern of headache over many months or years, it is most likely a primary headache condition. Head into our clinic for a proper diagnosis. Our medical team can provide medication and recommend lifestyle changes to help you manage your pain.

A headache is secondary when it is a symptom of another disease or condition. There are a multitude of conditions that can affect the pain-sensitive nerves in the head and lead to secondary headaches. Common conditions and diseases that cause secondary headaches include:

  • Concussion
  • Dehydration
  • Dental problems
  • Ear infection (middle ear)
  • Fever
  • Flu
  • Glaucoma
  • Hangovers
  • High blood pressure
  • Medications to treat other disorders
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Overuse of pain medication
  • Panic attacks and panic disorder
  • Pressure from tight headgear
  • Sinus infection

As well as more serious, life-threatening conditions, such as:

  • Brain aneurysm
  • Brain tumor
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
  • Meningitis
  • Stroke

The American Migraine Foundation provides this helpful list of warning signs to help determine if your headache is caused by an underlying condition.

Seek emergency help for:

  • Abrupt, severe headache
  • Headache with a fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or speaking difficulties
  • Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache gets worse

In other instances, simply walk into our clinic.

Our friendly medical team can evaluate your head pain, assess additional symptoms, and recommend a treatment plan to help you find relief. Headaches are common, but you don’t have to live with the pain. Let us help you better understand and treat your headaches.

A UTI or an STI? The Trouble with Similar Symptoms

uti or an sti - photo of bathroom stallIf you’re making frequent –and painful– trips to the bathroom, you might assume you have a urinary tract infection. But, there are other conditions that cause pelvic pain and trouble with urination, most notably, sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

So, how can you tell if you’re suffering due to a UTI or an STI?

It’s difficult to differentiate a UTI from an STI based on symptoms alone, since both cause burning during urination, pelvic pain, and a frequent, sudden urge to urinate. However, if you also have vaginal symptoms such as discharge, bleeding and/or irregular periods, and are sexually active, it may suggest an STI. Make sure to talk to your doctor about your specific symptoms and risk factors for these types of infections.

The only way to determine exactly what kind of infection you are dealing with is to head to the doctor for testing.

Why it’s important to seek treatment

Urinary Tract Infections occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. In most cases, UTIs can be successfully treated with a short course of antibiotics and symptoms will clear up within a few days of treatment. However, when left untreated, urinary tract infections can lead to serious complications including recurrent infections, kidney disease, and even sepsis.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are bacterial infections that spread through sexual intercouse and develop in the reproductive organs, the urethra, throat, and rectum. Both infections are curable and are treated with antibiotics. Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause permanent health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and increased risk of HIV.

If you think you have a UTI or an STI, visit our clinic today. With onsite lab testing, our compassionate providers can determine the cause of your symptoms and provide you with an appropriate treatment plan.

Stop Your Seasonal Allergies Before They Start

If you suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis (AKA hay fever), then you know the symptoms are downright miserable. The constant sneezing, runny nose, and itchiness make it difficult to deal with even the most simple daily tasks. This spring, learn the best way to stop your seasonal allergies before they start.

Understanding Hay Fever

Hay fever is caused by pollen carried in the air during different times of the year, and spring, with so many trees and plants in bloom, tends to be a heavy-hitter. Trees, weeds, and grasses release pollen to fertilize other plants. When someone with an allergy inhales this pollen, their immune system perceives an intruder and reacts by releasing histamine into the bloodstream to attack it. This response triggers symptoms such as:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Dark circles under the eyes

How can I prevent seasonal allergies?

The best way to control hay fever is to avoid the allergens that cause it. And while it may be difficult to completely avoid pollen, you can actively monitor the pollen count in your area and limit outdoor exposure when counts are high. The National Allergy Bureau now offers a helpful online tool that reports on pollen counts for specific trees, grasses, weeds and mold spores throughout the country. Check your local pollen count now »

Staying aware of the pollen counts can also make your allergy medications more effective. Antihistamine medications work best when taken preemptively. If you take your medication before you come into contact with pollen, it can prevent the release of histamine and stop your symptoms in their tracks.

Antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroids can all help manage hay fever allergies. Talk to a doctor to learn which medication is right for you.

If you suffer from spring allergies, visit our clinic today. Our medical team can prescribe allergy medications and offer helpful advice on how to keep your hay fever under control.

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