Home » Seasonal Tips
Category Archives: Seasonal Tips
Is It a Cold or Sinus Infection?
If it’s a cold virus, you may find yourself close to a tissue box for several days. Most of the time, colds get better on their own in 10 days or less.
Colds bring on a nasty mix of symptoms that can really wear you down. They can include:
- Sore throat
- Stuffy nose
- Mucus buildup
- Swollen sinuses
- Fever (usually low-grade in adults but higher in children)
Treating Your Cold
“The remedies you choose should be targeted at specific symptoms, so something for your headache, for your congestion, for your fever,” says Camelia Davtyan, MD, a professor of medicine at UCLA.
Davtyan also stresses getting plenty of fluids and rest. The latter, she recognizes, is often hard.
“Getting enough rest can be a problem, because people don’t want to skip work and they have so many things to do,” she says. You may also have a hard time staying asleep at night because you can’t breathe through your nose.
“People who irrigate when they have a cold usually do better,” says Davtyan.
When your nasal passages become infected, that’s a sinus infection. And they’re harder to
get rid of. Viruses, bacteria, or even allergies can lead to sinus infections.
Colds don’t usually cause sinus infections, says Davtyan, but they do offer a breeding ground for them.
“You touch your nose a lot when you’re sick, and each time you bring more bacteria to the sinuses,” she says. “Because your sinuses can’t drain, the bacteria stay there and grow.”
Sinus Infection Symptoms
Look for the following symptoms:
- Sinus pressure behind the eyes and the cheeks
- A runny, stuffy nose that lasts more than a week
- A worsening headache
- A fever
- Bad breath
- Thick yellow or green mucus draining from your nose or down the back of your throat (postnasal drip)
- Decreased sense of smell
Treating Your Sinus Infection
If you think you have a sinus infection, you may need to see your doctor.
“Mostly, these acute infections go away on their own or after a simple course of antibiotics,” says ear, nose, and throat specialist Greg Davis, who practices at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.
Davis recommends sinus irrigation for sinus infections. It can help ease your symptoms while you wait for the antibiotics to do their job. Steroids, decongestants, and over-the-counter mucus thinners can also ease your discomfort, he says.
See an ear, nose, and throat specialist if your sinus infection doesn’t go away after one or two courses of antibiotics, Davis says.
Some people have sinus infections over and over. The only known risk factors, Davis says, are allergies and smoking (another reason to quit!) In rare cases, an acute infection can become chronic if it’s not treated successfully.
If you aren’t sure if you have cold, allergies, or sinus infection you can visit West Oaks Urgent Care. Our ER-trained doctors can quickly assess and treat your illness in less than an hour. No appointment needed, come in so we can assess and give you the proper assistance. Call us at: (281) 496-4948
Every spring, Denise Wilson tweaks her daily routine. Instead of running outdoors, she hits the gym. She puts on the air conditioner rather than open a window for fresh air. And she tucks her contacts into a drawer and switches to eyeglasses.
Wilson, 46, a public relations exec in Brooklyn, NY, says these are absolute musts if she’s going to get through allergy season.
“I usually don’t let myself get to that point anymore,” Wilson says. Instead of waiting for symptoms to blossom, she starts her allergy medicine before the season begins.
She’s on to something. When you use meds early you may ease your symptoms all spring, says Bela B. Faltay, MD, chief of service of allergy at Akron General Health System, in Ohio. “With a week or 2 lead time, you’ll feel better all season.”
High season usually kicks into gear when the thermometer hits 60 degrees for 3-4 days. When that happens, pollen from plants starts moving through the air — and your allergy misery begins. It depends on where you live, but that’s typically early April. To get a head start, try taking medication in mid- to late March.
To get one the right one, it might take a bit of trial and error. A drug that works great for your neighbor may be a bust for you.
- Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
- Desloratadine (Clarinex)
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- Fexofenadine (Allegra)
- Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin)
Some antihistamines may make you drowsy. Find out what your doctor recommends.
Decongestants. They can come to the rescue when you’re all stuffed because they shrink the lining of the passages in your nose. You can try a nasal spray or a pill. Some options to choose from:
Decongestants work fast, but they can lead to a “rebound effect,” which means your symptoms may get worse from using them too much. “They can be great in a pinch, once in a while,” Faltay says. To stay safe, stop using them after 3 days.
Nasal corticosteroid sprays. You spritz them into your nose, and they can give you relief
from stuffiness and sneezing. But they may take a few days or weeks to kick in. Examples are:
Some you can try are:
- Alcaftadine (Lastacaft)
- Azelastine (Optivar)
- Ketotifen fumarate (Zaditor)
- Naphazoline/pheniramine (Visine-A)
You may want to look into these if meds don’t get the job done. Your doctor will give you a series of injections — over months or years — that contain a little bit of the pollen you’re allergic to. Just like getting a vaccine, your body builds up a defense system that keeps pollen from causing symptoms.
Don’t expect instant results. “It’s a very slow fix,” Faltay says. “It takes 6 months to a year to see reliable effects.” You’ll probably stay on them for 3-5 years. After that, your body will keep ignoring your allergy trigger.
Home Remedies and Alternate Treatment
Nasal irrigation . That’s just a fancy way to say rinse out your nose with salty water. It can be a huge help when you’re all stuffed up. Put a saline mix — either store-bought or homemade — into a neti pot, bulb syringe, or squeeze bottle, and then flush out your nasal passages. To make your own rinse, mix 3 heaping teaspoons of iodide-free salt with 1 rounded teaspoon of baking soda. Then add it to 1 cup of lukewarm distilled water or boiled water after it’s cooled down.
Acupuncture . Some studies, but not all, suggest it eases symptoms. If you try it, experts recommend you begin 2 months before allergy season kicks off.
Herbs. Some people swear by herbal remedies like goldenseal, butterbur, and stinging nettle. But they’re not proven to work and may trigger side effects.
Want to get to the bottom of which types of pollen trigger your symptoms? Try allergy testing.
No matter the trigger, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Pay attention to pollen counts, stay inside when you can, and shower after being outdoors, Faltay says.
By Oscar L. Orias and Dr. Muhammad Emran
The winter months are a busy time for urgent care centers and ERs. The reasons are due to a higher risk for flu, common cold, and holiday decorating accidents. It is also a time when many family doctors and pedestrians are closed for the holidays. This leaves people looking at the different healthcare options. Urgent care can be a great selection, especially if their condition isn’t life-threatening but needs prompt treatment. It can also save you money, since urgent cares are usually a fraction of the cost of a freestanding ER.
Here are 5 great reasons for using an urgent care this holiday season:
- Most Urgent Cares are In-network with your private insurance. Urgent care co-pays are much less than emergency department co-pays. Urgent care centers can verify your insurance coverage and let you know what your total cost will be BEFORE you are seen by the doctor. Emergency departments and freestanding ERs cannot tell you what the full cost is before a visit. The total cost may be over $3000 for simple injury or illness. At urgent care, the cost is a fraction less. For patients who do not have any insurance coverage at all, West Oaks Urgent Care as well as other urgent care clinics offers discounted pricing option.
- Open (almost) every day. Many primary care and pediatrician offices in the Houston, Sugar Land, and Katy area are closed for weeks at a time over the Christmas break. However, our urgent care clinic is open almost every day. We even offer extended hours on weekends and evenings. Our doctors are supported by experienced nurses and x-ray technicians on every shift, just like hospital ER.
- No long waits. Most patient who come to urgent care are busy professionals, have children, or just do not have the time to sit in a waiting room. Hospital emergency room wait times can be as much as 4 hours. For people who have stomach issues, have a rash, or a severe cough, this could be much longer since the emergency department takes ambulances at a higher priority. Plus, you may be exposed to other people with more serious health issues such as the flu, pneumonia, or pink eye while waiting with other sick people for hours.
- Life’s minor emergencies. Nobody plans on getting into a car accident, cutting a finger with a knife, or falling from a ladder while hanging Christmas lights. Your family doctor or pediatrician may not feel comfortable doing stitches, reading x-rays, or giving IV fluids. Our urgent care like others, usually have experienced doctors on staff. These doctors are comfortable in quickly take care of your wounds, food poisoning symptoms, and interpret x-rays confidently. They are also certified in treating your child for any minor emergency situations that arises.
- Easy accessibility for out-of-state travelers. If you are visiting from out of state and leave your blood pressure medicine behind, our doctors can help refill your medication. Urgent cares are a great quick option for travelers that need refills or get seen by a doctor. Also they cost a fraction of hospital and freestanding ERs and usually better at treating hypertension, diabetes, or chronic conditions.
If You suffering from the following: severe bleeding, compound fracture, possible stroke, chest pains, or shortness of breath please call 911 and go to the ER immediately.
Summertime in the Bear Creek, Katy, Houston, and Sugar Land area signals the return of our “favorite” yearly visitors: biting insects. Our side of town gets to see the usual painful suspects:
- Fire Ants
If you’re “lucky,” you’ll get acquainted with ticks, centipedes, millipedes, chiggers, lice, bedbugs, and yellow jackets. While anyone who has had to deal with any kind of insect bite or sting can attest to how uncomfortable, even painful, they can be, when does an insect bite warrant a trip to the urgent care clinic near you?
As residents of Houston, we know to avoid large piles of dirt and the wax-like structures stuck to walls. We’ve been taught (whether through our own experience or through the experience of others) that stings from bees and wasps, as well as bites from multiple fire ants, hurt. However, this pain alone is usually not severe enough to warrant a trip to urgent care. However, if the pain from a bite is pulsing or stings excessively, you should play it safe and visit a board certified urgent care physician.
2. Signs of Infection
If the mysterious new insect bite that you got after spending a summer’s day in Bear Creek Park is starting to look red and swollen, you should get an urgent care doctor to look at it. Sometimes, untreated insect bites can lead to a problem called cellulitis. Mayo Clinic describes the condition as a, “common, potentially serious bacterial skin infection.” If you experience redness, swelling, pain, open skin, or any other sign of infection at the site, get medical attention.
3. Signs of Abscess
Abscesses can accompany an infection. However, deep abscesses can indicate a more severe condition, namely a spider bite. During summer, children may romp around in unfamiliar places. If you suspect that a new bite mark accompanied by an abscess could be from a spider, visit your local urgent care right away. Certain species of spiders, namely brown recluse spiders, can deteriorate human flesh with a single bite without quick medical attention.
4. Unknown Origin
This errs on the side of caution. While many people can remember if they’ve swiped away a few mosquitoes or accidentally stepped near an ant pile while wearing flip flop, any new bites of unknown origin are a candidate for a proper diagnosis. Ticks, for example, leave welts that can be difficult to diagnose. Ticks are renown carriers of potentially life-threatening Lyme disease. Additionally, children may not know what caused the bite in the first place. The collection of itchy, red welts on their legs might be from fire ants, chiggers, fleas, or another insect entirely. While unknown bites like these can be treated with over-the-counter remedies, parents can err on the safe side and bring young children to an urgent care physician for weekend misadventures.
When You SHOULD NOT Go to Urgent Care for Insect Bite
Patients who experience an anaphylactic allergic reaction to insect stings and bites should go to the ER immediately following an incident, based on the severity of the reaction. According to WebMD, “Approximately 50 deaths each year in the U.S. are attributed to insect sting allergies.” Patients who are severely allergic to bee stings, fire ant bites, etc. might experience difficulty breathing, face/throat swelling, dizziness, wheezing, and severe hives all over their body. Do not attempt to treat severe allergic reactions alone, and do NOT go to an urgent care center: go to the ER.
Quick Urgent Care in Houston for Insect Stings and Bites
Were you or your child the unfortunate victim of a bite this summer? There’s always a board certified physician on-site at West Oaks Urgent Care to answer your questions about mystery insect bites.
If you live Sugar Land, Katy, or southwest Houston, stop by West Oaks Urgent Care to speak with a board certified physician today.
By Janine Sanborn, West Oaks Urgent Care Content Writer
Sunburns are common, especially during the summer when the sun is always out. It is necessary to take the right precautions by wearing the right protection. It is also important to treat the sunburn as soon as you get it.
To relieve discomfort:
- Put a cold, damp towel on your skin: It works best to do this for 10 to 15 minutes a couple times every day. This takes some of the heat out of the skin. Another alternative is to take cool showers to relieve pain. Instead of rubbing yourself to dry, make sure to pat and leave a little water on the skin to help trap the moisture from your lotion.
- Use moisturizers: Lotion with aloe vera will definitely help soothe the skin. If the skin becomes too irritated, you can use hydrocortisone cream.
- Take ibuprofen if pain worsens: This will help reduce swelling, redness, or discomfort.
- Drink water: Water will help prevent dehydration.
- Wear clothing that covers your skin while you are outdoors.
Sunburns can potentially cause long-lasting damage to the skin. This can cause the risk for skin cancer to increase which makes it even more important to protect the skin from sun. For any concerns or question you have about sun burn or summer health please feel free to contact West Oaks Urgent Care at (281) 496-4948.
By Janine Sanborn
Spring is upon us, and allergy season has begun. Allergies can be inevitable when you can get them from outside or even in your own home. Below are some tips to help with allergies!
There are many over-the-counter medications that an individual can consider taking such as Claritin. It may be best to talk to your doctor and see which is the most appropriate for your symptoms. He or she may prescribe an oral medication or nasal spray.
It is important to wear gloves and a mask when cleaning, vacuuming or painting. This will limit how much dust and chemicals you are being exposed to. Vacuuming twice a week will especially help with limiting dust.
Rugs can obtain a lot of dust and even mold. It is better to have rugs that are washable to reduce this.
Keeping Your Indoor Air Clean
Changing your filters in air conditioning vents is very important. It is especially vital during allergy season. Make sure to keep windows closed to avoid pollen from entering your home.
Wash your bedding in hot water once a week. Washing your hair and taking a shower before going to bed will also help reduce allergies since pollen may get in your hair.