Allergies Vs. Sinus Infection

man with tissue to nose suffering from seasonal allergiesAs we head into hay fever season, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of your congestion– are your sniffles due to seasonal allergies or a sinus infection? The two conditions share similar symptoms, but are not the same thing.

Seasonal Allergies

Allergies occur when our body’s immune system mistakes a harmless, everyday substance for a dangerous one. The body releases histamines to fight the perceived intruder (the allergen), causing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and scratchy throat.

Pollen and mold are major allergens for millions of people, and during springtime, as plant species begin releasing pollen particles into the air and outdoor molds release their spores, cold-like, allergy symptoms abound. These seasonal allergies are sometimes called “hay fever” or seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Sinus Infection (Rhinosinusitis)

In contrast, a sinus infection occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen and inflamed, usually due to a virus. Infected sinuses cause pain and pressure in the face, severe congestion, and nasal discharge that is cloudy, green, or yellow. Other possible symptoms include sore throat (due to post-nasal drip), fever, tooth pain, headache, and bad breath.

Evaluation and Treatment

While allergies and sinus infections are separate conditions, their treatments do share some overlap—if you are experiencing congestion with either, a decongestant medication can help to break up mucus in your nasal cavities.

Allergies can be treated with antihistamines, such as Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin. These medications block the body’s histamine-producing response and help to reduce symptoms. Allergies cannot be fully prevented, but you can minimize your exposure to known allergens.

For viral sinus infections, your best bet is to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Antibiotics are not effective in treating viruses. Nasal irrigation can also help to clear your sinuses, relieve dryness, and flush allergens. With proper care, most sinus infections go away on their own within 1-2 weeks.

If you’re suffering from seasonal allergies or a possible sinus infection, head into our clinic today. Our friendly medical team can offer quick treatment and expert advice to help you feel better.

Where To Take Your Sick Child For Care

woman holding sick child in lap - where to take your sick child for care Your toddler is running a fever and acting extra fussy… Do you rush to the emergency room, or simply set an appointment with the pediatrician for next week? How about a trip to the local urgent care center? Determining what level of care your little one needs is often a difficult and confusing task. While your first step should always be a call to your pediatrician or an after-hours answering service to discuss symptoms, below, we offer some general guidelines for when and where to take your sick child for care.

When To Head Straight To The ER

A visit to the emergency room should be reserved for true medical emergencies, such as trauma, surgical procedures, and life-threatening situations.

Call 911 or go right to the ER if your child:

  • is under 2 months old and has a fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher
  • suffered a serious head or eye injury
  • suffered a serious burn or large cut
  • had a seizure
  • has a broken bone with visible swelling
  • shows signs of dehydration (dry lips and mouth, absence of urination for more than 12 hours, lethargy and confusion)
  • is having trouble breathing
  • ingested a poison, drug, or unknown substance

When To Use An Urgent Care

If your child is able to walk, talk, play and interact, it’s most likely not a medical emergency. For minor injuries and illnesses that require immediate attention, an urgent care center is a time- and cost-saving alternative to the ER.

Urgent care centers are able to treat a wide range of non life-threatening injuries and illnesses, and offer extended evening and weekend hours, usually with X-rays and lab testing on-site. Average waits are under an hour and the cost per visit is much less than the ER.

Common children’s medical issues that can be treated by an urgent care include:

  • Coughs/Stuffy Nose
  • Strep throat
  • Minor Cuts and Burns
  • Common Cold
  • The Flu
  • Pink Eye
  • Minor Broken Bones and Sprains
  • Ear Infections
  • Rashes
  • Asthma
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea

It’s also a good idea to call the urgent care ahead of your visit to verify what ages and conditions they treat. Based on your child’s symptoms, the clinic may direct you to the ER.

Now you know the basics of where to take your sick child for care. We’re here for you when an urgent care is the best choice.

Evaluating Your Low Back Pain

Almost every adult will deal with low back pain at some point in their life. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons people head to the doctor. While most cases of acute low back pain will go away without intervention, a visit to an urgent care center can help rule out more serious conditions and ensure you’re on the quickest road to feeling better.

Symptoms:

  • Muscle aches in lower spinal region
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain that:
    • radiates down your leg
    • worsens with bending, lifting, standing or walking
    • improves with reclining

If you’re suffering from the symptoms above, head into our clinic whenever it’s convenient for you. Our providers can review your medical history and lifestyle for signs of systemic diseases, social and psychological stresses, and risk factors that may be contributing to your pain. We will perform a comprehensive physical exam to inspect the back, assess areas of tenderness, and evaluate your spinal mobility. Through this medical evaluation, we can help narrow down the cause of your low back pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Some common causes of lower back pain include:

Muscle and Ligament Strains

Lifting a heavy object or twisting suddenly can strain the muscles in your back or the ligaments of your spine and cause diffuse back pain.

Herniated Disc

The intervertebral discs that act as cushions in your spin can become compressed and bulge outward (herniation) or rupture, causing dull or sharp shooting low back pain.

Compression Fracture

Commonly caused by osteoporosis, a spinal compression fracture occurs when a bone in the spine collapses, leading to debilitating back pain.

Osteoarthritis (spondylosis)

A breakdown of the cartilage of the joints and discs in the lower back can make movement difficult and painful.

Skeletal irregularities

Scoliosis, a condition in which your spine curves to the side, can lead to back pain later in life.

Visit our clinic today to better understand your lower back pain. Our talented and friendly medical team can quickly evaluate your symptoms, and determine a treatment plan to help you find relief. Initial treatment for low back pain may inclu
de hot or cold packs, over-the-counter NSAIDs, cortisone injections, and physical therapy. Integrative medicines such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, yoga and massage may be helpful.

Signs and Symptoms of Stomach Flu

Could your tummy trouble be viral gastroenteritis, AKA the “stomach flu”?

Viral gastroenteritis, commonly known as the “stomach flu”, is an intestinal infection with some seriously miserable symptoms–think nausea, stomach cramps, and frequent beelines to the bathroom. A number of viruses can cause the unpleasant illness, though norovirus is usually to blame. Rotavirus, adenovirus, astrovirus, and sapovirus are also common.

These viruses are highly contagious, spread quickly from person to person, and are most active from October to April. You can catch a stomach bug simply from being near, shaking hands, or sharing personal items with someone who is sick. You can also develop the illness by consuming contaminated food or water (i.e. food poisoning). Anyone can get viral gastroenteritis, though young children, older adults, dormitory residents, and those with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable.

It’s important to note that the so-called “stomach flu” is not the same as influenza. Real flu is a respiratory infection, whereas gastroenteritis attacks the intestines.

Viral Gastroenteritis symptoms include:

  • Watery, nonbloody diarrhea*
  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Nausea, vomiting or both
  • Occasional muscle aches or headache
  • Low-grade fever

*When you have an intestinal infection, your large intestine struggles to retain fluids, which leads to loose, watery stool, generally without smell or blood. Bloody diarrhea may indicate a more severe infection. Head straight to the ER if you notice this symptom.

Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis come on abruptly, and fortunately, don’t last long. The illness usually runs its course within 1-2 days. And since antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, the best treatment plan is plenty of rest and extra fluids. Dehydration as a result of diarrhea and vomiting can be a serious concern, so head into our urgent care center if:

  • You’re unable to keep liquids down for 24 hours
  • You experience vomiting that lasts more than two days
  • You’re dehydrated — signs of dehydration include excessive thirst, dry mouth, deep yellow urine or little or no urine, and severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • You’re vomiting blood
  • You have a fever above 104 F (40 C)

Our medical team is available 7 days a week to provide quick, quality treatment when you need it most!

Does my child have an ear infection?

Your toddler is tugging at their ear and acting extra fussy. Could it be an ear infection?

Ear infections are one of the most common reasons parents bring their child to the doctor. In fact, five out of six kids will experience at least one ear infection by their third birthday. The condition, also known as acute otitis media, is an inflammation of the middle ear that occurs when fluid builds up behind the eardrum and becomes infected by bacteria or a virus. Since your child may not yet have the language skills to communicate their pain, it’s important to learn the signs and symptoms of an ear infection, and when it’s time to see a medical provider.

Signs and Symptoms

child in bed with ear infection

  • Tugging or pulling at the ear(s)
  • Ear pain that’s worse when lying down
  • Irritable, fussier than usual
  • Crying more than usual
  • Difficulty hearing and/or failing to respond to sounds
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Drainage from the ear
  • Fever (100 F or higher)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms can indicate a number of conditions, so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment from a medical provider.

When To See A Doctor

Call your child’s doctor, or head right into our clinic if:

  • symptoms last for more than a day
  • ear pain is severe
  • your child is sleepless or irritable after a cold or upper respiratory infection
  • you observe a discharge of fluid, pus or blood from the ear

To diagnose ear pain, our provider will review your child’s symptoms, perform a physical exam, and use a lighted instrument, called an otoscope, to view the eardrum. The provider may also use a pneumatic otoscope to check for fluid behind the eardrum.

If symptoms indicate a bacterial infection, we may be prescribe a course of antibiotics. Other times, it’s best to simply monitor the situation and focus on symptom management. Some earaches are not caused by infection, and will get better on their own within 1-2 days. Ear drops and over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can reduce fever and ease pain.

If your child is suffering from signs and symptoms of an ear infection, we are here for you. Simply walk in for quick, convenient, quality care for you child.