The following is a partial article found on Reading Eagle written by Jayson Burdereck:
Know the Difference Between Common Winter
Illnesses, How To Avoid Them And How To Treat Them
Common winter illnesses can have similar symptoms. And one illness can easily lead to
another one as the body struggles to fight off the first one. So how do you tell the difference
between these ailments, how do you avoid them, and how do you treat them if you get
them? Dr. Robert S. Jones, chief of infectious diseases at both Reading Hospital and St.
Joseph Medical Center, sorts it out. Influenza
Symptoms: The flu attacks the body quickly, so there is a sudden onset of symptoms, which
almost always include fever, headache, aches and pains and fatigue. The flu less often
includes stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat. Nausea and vomiting are common in
children and less common in adults, who more often suffer from chest discomfort. January
and February are big months for flu in Berks County.
Prevention: Annual vaccination. Wash your hands. Avoid those with the flu.
Treatment: Prescriptions for Tamiflu or Relenza must be started within 48 hours of onset to
be effective, and then they will shorten the symptoms by about a day. Cold
Symptoms: Congestion, sneezing, sore throat and a cough. Fever and headache are rare
with a cold.
Prevention: Protect yourself by washing your hands and not touching your face. Protect
others by using proper cough etiquette. Colds are caused by many viruses, so it is not
uncommon for someone to suffer from several colds per season.
Treatment: Painkillers, decongestants and plenty of fluids can provide some relief, but colds
must run their course. Pneumonia
Symptoms: Cough, fever, troubled and painful breathing, chills.
Prevention: A vaccine is recommended for those older than 50 and for anyone with heart
and lung issues or chronic illnesses.
Treatment: Antibiotics. Bronchitis
(not to be confused with bronchiolitis)
Symptoms: Cough caused by the inflammation of airways to the lungs. This often
accompanies a cold.
Prevention: Cough etiquette and good hygiene.
Treatment: Painkillers and decongestants if needed. Antibiotics do not help because the
bronchitis is usually caused by a virus, not bacteria. Bronchiolitis
(not to be confused with bronchitis)
Symptoms: Usually begins like a cold in young children and then develops into a severe
cough and wheezing.
Prevention: Try to have children avoid other children who are sick. This passes easily from
person to person.
Treatment: If the cause is viral, fluids and comfort are all that can be done. The most
common cause is RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus. If the cause is bacterial, antibiotics
can be used. Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Symptoms: Eyes become red or pink and ooze pus. Eyes are crusty when a person with
pink eye first wakes up.
Prevention: Wash hands and avoid sharing towels, pillow cases and other items with those
who have pink eye.
Treatment: Antibiotic eye drops can be used if the cause is bacterial. If the cause is viral,
antibiotics won't work. Cleaning the areas around the eye using "tearless" baby shampoo
can provide some relief. Stomach bug
Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, fever and severe cramping. Common causes are rotavirus
Prevention: There is a pediatric vaccine for rotavirus. Hand washing and good hygiene can
keep the virus from spreading. These viruses are very contagious and can sweep through
an entire dormitory, school, prison, hospital, cruise ship or anywhere that lots of people are
Treatment: None. Those who are sick should make sure to keep hydrated. Strep throat
Symptoms: Severe sore throat, low fever and swollen glands. Sufferers have described the
feeling as trying to swallow razor blades.
Prevention: Stay home when sick. This can spread easily in a classroom or office setting.
Treatment: Penicillin. Ear infection
Symptoms: Inflammation and/or pain in ears.
Prevention: Avoid smoky areas and putting anything in a person's ear.
Treatment: Most ear infections go away on their own. Antibiotics are not recommended
unless the infection sticks around for several days.
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