Flu season approaches
First of all, flu season is on the horizon. While pharmacy chains seem to find it beneficial to offer flu shots all year, flu season is universally recognized to be from October through February.
While it is certainly possible to contract influenza — the flu — at any time during the year, the evidence is compelling for being immunized in early October. Anything significantly earlier than that risks neglecting effective coverage through February.
Influenza, like colds, is caused by a family of viruses. Affectionately called a “big mama virus,” influenza involves viral strains that are generally more potent and thus potentially more lethal, both in their ability to cause stronger, more debilitating symptoms and in the possibility of leading to severe complications, such as dehydration or pneumonia.
Both a cold and the flu may start off with general body aches and fatigue, chills, coughing, a sore throat, a runny nose and a low-grade fever. From there, however, cold symptoms tend to be more manageable and begin to resolve, while influenza usually knocks patients right out of the “living life as usual” possibility.
The bottom line is that influenza is serious, and if you suspect you have contracted influenza, please consult with your primary health care provider as soon as possible.
Pertussis still a concern
The whooping cough continues to be a major health concern. Caused by the potentially deadly bacteria pertussis, the whooping cough is not just a different version of coughing that we commonly encounter with colds, flu, bronchitis, asthma or allergies.
As I have written before, a picture is worth a thousand words, and by simply typing “whooping cough” into the search on YouTube, you can see for yourself what I am writing about. Several videos of patients — mostly children — with this deadly cough speak for themselves.
Please consult with your primary health care provider to discuss any questions or concerns you have about whooping cough and the pertussis vaccination. For many school-aged children, pertussis vaccination is the law.
Fall allergies in full force
Yes, the fall allergy season is upon us.
That nagging multi-week cough with nasal congestion and the endless clearing of your throat is not a four-week-long cold. It is your nose, your throat and maybe other parts of your anatomy being assaulted by a constant barrage of inhaled allergens.
These allergens could be any of the thousands of things in the air, from ragweed to seasonal harvest debris.
There are many approaches to treating fall allergies, ranging from over-the-counter pills to prescription nasal sprays and inhalers to steroid shots and blood and skin allergy testing.
Fall allergy symptoms can lead to more serious complications, and thus are nothing to sneeze at (pun intended). If you suspect you are suffering from fall allergies, please consult with your primary health care provider.
Richard O’Bryan, a volunteer columnist for the Irrigator, is a nationally board-certified and licensed physician assistant and former Patterson paramedic who practices at the Patterson First Care clinic. Information in this column is not intended to replace advice from your own health care professional. For any medical concern, consult your own doctor. Readers can email questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.