What's going around: Upper respiratory infections - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

What's going around: Upper respiratory infections


Our new segment is called "What's Going Around".

Our hope is to give you a heads-up so you can take preventive measures at home, and maybe save you a trip to the doctor's office or emergency room.

Dr. Adam Lewis, who is based at First Assist in Colonial Heights reports many cases of allergies, sinusitis, viral gastroenteritis, viral upper respiratory infections, contact dermatitis/poison ivy.

Dr. Sidney Gilbert with Wellmont Medical Associates in Pennington Gap, Va., and Jonesville, Va. reports:

"I have been seeing a lot of upper respiratory infections.  I have been trying to tell all of my patients to try over-the-counter medications for at least a week before they come in to be seen.  Most of these infections are viral and self-limiting and over-the-counter medications such as Claritin and Robitussin can help.  If they develop a fever or shortness of breath, I like to see them sooner.  After a week of symptomatic therapy with no improvement it is reasonable to consider antibiotics after evaluating each patient."

Dr. Jared Hess is with Wellmont Medical Associates in Bristol.  He says:

"I have been seeing lots of allergy patients recently.  Symptoms include sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itchy nose, itchy eyes, watery eyes, and headache.  This is often mistaken by patients as a sinus infection."

Dr. Hess has some simple precautions:

1.  Staying indoors as much as possible.

2.  Let someone else do the yard work or wear a mask while doing the chores on your own.

3.  Shower soon after being outside for an extended period of time.

4.  Watch your local weather to see when pollen counts are high, as these are the most important times to stay indoors.

5.  Turn on your air conditioner in homes and cars.  Make sure the filters are clean.

6.  Nasal saline rinses are helpful.  Do not use tap water with these items.

7.  If all of this is not effective, you may try over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra.  Speak with your pharmacist to see which may be best for you.  Sometimes, decongestants are helpful.  Again, speak with your pharmacist.

8.  If all else fails, see your physician.

 Dr. Melanie Skeen at Wellmont Medical Associates in Norton, Virginia says:

"‘Tis the season to be snotty!  Over the past several weeks my office has been overflowing with patients complaining of runny noses, stopped up sinuses, itchy eyes, watery eyes, sore throats.  Most of these visits are not true sinus infections, but rather bothersome seasonal allergies or simply the ever-awful common cold.  Here are a few old (and new) home remedies that may help you survive the spring cold season."

Here's Dr. Skeen's advice:

For allergy sufferers:

Keeping your doors and windows open may not be the best thing for you.  If you have to mow your own lawn, wear a mask and shower afterward.  Be sure to take an over-the-counter medicine such as Allegra, Claritin or Zyrtec daily.  During really bad times you may try an over-the-counter Benadryl nightly.  As always, ask your doctor.  There has been some evidence that locally grown honey has antihistamine properties and is very helpful if a teaspoon is taken morning and night.  If watery eyes are a problem, Visine allergy eye drops taken over the counter may be of some benefit.

For the common cold getters:

The cold is caused by a virus.  Antibiotics do not help this kind of infection, and doctors are trying harder to educate the public on the dangers of over prescribing them.  If your symptoms have lasted less than 5 days and your nasal secretions are clear to white, you likely have a viral infection.  Sorry, you will have to wait it out.  To help with your nasal congestion, you can use nasal saline spray.  This can help to clear your nasal passages and make it easier to breathe through your nose.  Taking an expectorant such as guaifenesin can thin your secretions and help you cough them up as well.  A sore throat may likely be caused by sinus drainage at night.  Drinking warm liquids such as coffee, tea, or yes, chicken noodle soup, can soothe a throat as well as thin secretions and help a great deal with your symptoms. Salt water gargle is helpful, too.  The recommended amount is ¼-1/2 teaspoon of salt to 1cup of warm water. Over-the-counter decongestants can help you feel much better and are as effective as anything your doctor can write.  But heart patients and blood pressure patients BEWARE.  These meds can cause tachycardia, heart palpitations, and increase diastolic blood pressure.  If you are suffering at night, use a cool mist humidifier/vaporizer.  Cough medications such as dextromethorphan can reduce cough and honey also has evidence to show a decrease in cough. (Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.)

And the very best way to keep yourself healthy, wash your hands, often.  Disinfect your surroundings.



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