Skip to content

Sinuses, strep ailing community members

Sinuses, strep ailing community members

When the weather gets colder and staying indoors becomes necessary, various germs always love to take up residence in the warmth of the household as well.
“People get cabin fever,” Jack Baltz, a nurse practitioner at the Martin Specialty Clinic, admitted. “During the winter there’s always an increase in viruses. People can’t get out and they can’t open doors like they did in the summer time and in warmer weather so the sneezing and coughing spreads faster inside the house and leads to much more illness in the winter than in the summer.”
As of right now, Baltz hasn’t seen many cases of the flu or any other persistent and dangerous viruses traveling around the area, but he has seen several cases of head congestion and sinusitis.
“The flu hasn’t really hit yet and there aren’t any viral strains going through right now. There are not a lot of bronchitis cases yet. It’s mainly just sinus congestion and it’s coming mostly from the change in weather,” Baltz remarked.
For head congestion, Baltz is recommending the over-the-counter medication Mucinex D™ and an increase in water intake; however, if fever begins and congestion becomes yellow and lasts longer than a week, a doctor’s appointment becomes necessary.
Baltz, who treats patients ages 13 and older, predicts an increase in viruses when the University of Tennessee at Martin students come back from winter break in the middle of next month. It’s unavoidable, he admits, in fact; it’s a bit like clockwork from year to year.
“Everything really kicks in when the kids come back to college,” Baltz warned. “In about two weeks, things will really pick up.”
The story gets worse for the smaller children, though, as two notoriously prevalent illnesses are currently wreaking havoc on the day-to-day patterns of area youngsters.
Julie Whittaker, a registered nurse at Martin Pediatric and Adolescent Clinic, has already seen and treated more than her fair share of stomach virus and strep throat cases and the numbers don’t seem to be letting up any time soon.
“We’ve been seeing cases of the stomach virus in all ages and strep throat cases in ages 12 months and up,” Whittaker admitted. She also added that the clinic has seen two positive tests for Type A influenza go to the emergency room, but no positive tests have been found in the clinic.
Symptoms of the stomach virus have included diarrhea and vomiting and in some severe cases, headache and fever. Of course, with the quick loss of body fluids, dehydration poses a threat as well.
“With the stomach virus, we recommend clear liquids and no intake of fruit juices,” Whittaker commented.
The best treatment for stomach virus is prevention and this includes washing hands frequently with soap and water, avoiding the consumption of contaminated foods and water and using chlorine-based cleaners and disinfectants. The majority of stomach viruses resolve themselves over time and medicines, especially antibiotics, prove useless in the fight.
Strep throat, on the other hand, is an illness that takes on many different avenues of treatment.
“Strep throat definitely requires a doctor’s visit. A test must be given to determine the presence of the streptococcus virus. Once it’s found, mostly everything belonging to the patient including toothbrushes and other hygienic items must be thrown away. This time we’re seeing a lot of accompanying stomachaches and fever,” Whittaker added.
Strep throat is caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria and is the most common bacterial throat infection. It’s most common in children ages 5-15, but can occur in younger children or in older adults. Illness begins two to five days after exposure and symptoms begin right away and include sore throat, headache, stomachache, nausea and chills.
Other symptoms to watch for include difficulty swallowing, general discomfort, loss of appetite, rash and tender and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
Additionally, the person may experience abnormal taste, joint stiffness, muscle pain, nasal congestion and discharge and neck pain.
A throat culture is the most common test for finding strep throat and the tried-and-true methods of administering penicillin or amoxicillin still prove successful in treatment. Symptoms normally dissipate within a week, but if left untreated, strep throat can progress into scarlet fever, rheumatic fever or kidney complications in rare cases.
As with the stomach virus, prevention is the key and in addition to disposing of all hygienic materials as mentioned before, people who are infected with strep throat are strongly encouraged to stay home from school, daycare or work until antibiotics have been administered for at least a day.
Winter is the month for staying indoors and keeping warm, but by taking the proper precautions and following the advice of doctors and other healthcare professionals, the welcome mat can be yanked up before the germs have time to come inside and make themselves at home.

WCP 12.28.10

Leave a Comment