Cold & Flu

COVID-19 vs. Allergies: How to Tell the Difference

COVID-19 vs. Allergies: How to Tell the Difference

COVID-19 vs. Allergies: How to Tell the DifferenceWelcome to 2020, where a once-innocent scratchy throat, cough, or stuffy nose is now a source of serious anxiety. As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, many people with seasonal allergies are concerned that their symptoms are actually signs of COVID-19. Only a clinical lab test can definitively rule out COVID-19, but there are a few key differences between the symptoms of these conditions that can provide some insight.

The Similarities

First, let’s review the similarities of COVID-19 and seasonal allergies according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Either condition may cause:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath (allergies typically only cause shortness of breath in people who have asthma)

The Differences

Some signs of COVID-19 are rarely associated with allergies. A COVID-19 infection is more likely to blame for your symptoms if they include:

  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Fever and chills
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

On the other hand, it’s more likely that you have allergies if your symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Watery or itchy eyes

Don’t play the guessing game if you’re concerned about COVID-19. While this information may help put your mind at ease, it’s important to get tested if you have any doubts or questions about your symptoms.

Find Answers at Affinity Urgent Care

Affinity Urgent Care’s fully equipped locations in La Marque, Alvin, and Galveston, Texas, provide rapid COVID-19 testing to patients. If you would like to receive a test, give us a call today to schedule an appointment. COVID-19 testing is covered by most insurances, and our friendly professionals are here to answer any questions you may have.


Flu Prevention Tips

Simple & Sensible Flu Prevention Tips

Flu PreventionJust when you got used to wearing a mask and washing your hands for 20 seconds, here comes flu season and another highly infectious illness to worry about. Much like COVID-19, seasonal influenza (the flu) is passed through respiratory droplets that are produced when we speak, cough, and sneeze. No need to panic, however—with a little common sense, you can help prevent the flu and keep your family safe this season.

Get Your Flu Shot

Getting a flu shot is the single best way to prevent the flu. And while it is possible to catch the virus after receiving a flu shot, your symptoms will likely be much less severe than if you had not been vaccinated. Affinity Urgent Care provides flu shots to adults and children on a walk in basis—stop by today!

Keep Your Distance

Sound familiar? When possible, try to stay at least six feet away from others at the grocery store, gym, park, and other public places.

Wash Your Hands Regularly

The flu is considered to be an airborne illness, but it is often spread through physical contact and by touching frequently used surfaces. Washing your hands regularly can help rinse viruses and other germs down the drain.

An Apple a Day…

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can help bolster your immune system—your body’s defense against the flu virus—and keep you healthy. Try incorporating foods with immune-boosting vitamins C, B6, and E into your diet.

For flu shots, flu testing, and flu treatment, Affinity Urgent Care is here to help. Contact our friendly professionals today to learn more. Our team is proud to serve adults and children at our clinics in La Marque, Alvin, and Galveston, Texas.


COVID-19 vs. the Flu: How to Tell the Difference

COVID-19 vs. the Flu: How to Tell the Difference

COVID-19 vs. the Flu: How to Tell the DifferenceFlu season has officially arrived, which means more and more people will be left wondering if their symptoms are the result of seasonal flu or COVID-19. Unfortunately, no internet article can provide a definitive answer—only a medical professional can administer appropriate testing and diagnose your symptoms with certainty.

With that said, there are a few key differences between flu and COVID-19 symptoms that may give you a better idea of what’s behind your illness.

Is It the Flu or Coronavirus?

The flu and COVID-19 are both highly contagious infections that are caused by viruses—the flu by influenza viruses A and B, and COVID-19 by SARS-CoV-2. Both can produce similar symptoms, which may include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fatigue

Reduced sense of taste or smell is another common symptom of COVID-19. However, it is not associated with the flu. If you feel sick and suddenly find it difficult to taste food or smell your favorite lotions or body washes, COVID-19 may be to blame.

Another factor to consider is the intensity of your symptoms. Many cases of COVID-19 are very mild. The flu, on the other hand, is usually associated with several days of disruptive symptoms and fatigue that may linger for weeks.

Your Next Step

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, your next step should be to contact Affinity Urgent Care. Our fully equipped centers in La Marque, Alvin, and Galveston, Texas, offer telemedicine services as well as rapid COVID-19 and flu testing. Contact our friendly team today to learn more.


Put Vaccines On Your “To Do” List

 

Put Vaccines On Your “To Do” List

AUGUST 2020 – It’s August! That means the start of National Immunization Awareness Month. It’s a month where we at Affinity Urgent Care want to highlight the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life.

As your children start school again this fall, whether virtual or in-person, we want to help you make sure they’re safe. That’s why we’re putting vaccines at the top of the “Back to School Checklist.”

Did you know? Vaccines have the power to protect your children against serious diseases like measles, cancers caused by HPV, and whooping cough.

And it’s not all for the little ones, either. Preteens and teens need four vaccines to protect against serious diseases:

A meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis and bloodstream infections;
HPV vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV;
Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough;
and a yearly flu vaccine

Come talk to us at Affinity Urgent Care to make sure you and your family are up to date on recommended vaccines.

Despite the myth, vaccines aren’t just for children. Adults also need vaccines to protect against whooping cough, flu, pneumonia, and shingles.

At Affinity Urgent Care, we can recommend the vaccines you may need for your age, health conditions, job, or lifestyle. However, some vaccines may need to be special ordered, so let us know ahead of time if you know you need a specific one.

Considering pregnancy? If you are pregnant, getting vaccinated can help protect your baby. This is because mothers have the ability to pass on antibodies to their children. These antibodies can give your baby short-term protection from flu and whooping cough until it is time for their own vaccines.

At Affinity Urgent Care, we can tell you more about the vaccines you need during pregnancy to protect yourself and your baby.

Did you know? Vaccines actually work with your body’s natural defenses to help your body safely develop protection from diseases. And of course, they are tested before licensing and carefully monitored afterward to ensure their safety. However, like all medical products, vaccines can cause side effects. The most common side effects are mild and go away quickly.

The CDC says that every year thousands of adults in the U.S. are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines can help prevent. Many adults even die from these diseases.

By getting vaccinated, you can help protect yourself and your family from serious, sometimes deadly, diseases.

This National Immunization Awareness Month, we at Affinity Urgent Care are highlighting the importance of vaccines. Help us spread the word! Follow the conversation on our Facebook page. When you share on social media, use #ivax2protect to share why you choose to vaccinate.


What is the Difference Between Coronavirus and COVID-19?

What Is the Difference Between Coronavirus and COVID-19?

What Is the Difference Between Coronavirus and COVID-19?You’ve undoubtedly been bombarded by information regarding COVID-19, masks, coronavirus, symptoms, testing, and all sorts of related topics lately. At Affinity Urgent Care, we understand that this information overload can be a little overwhelming, so we’re here to answer some common questions and help clear up any confusion. For example, what is the difference between coronavirus and COVID-19?

Coronavirus vs. COVID-19

Coronavirus is a type of virus. There are actually a few different kinds of coronaviruses, and some have been around for several years. In December 2019, a new (novel) coronavirus—labeled as SARS-CoV-2—was identified in China. This new coronavirus is the organism that causes COVID-19, an infectious disease that affects the respiratory system and triggers symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, coughing, and sore throat. In some cases, though, COVID-19 doesn’t cause any symptoms.

In short, coronavirus is a type of virus that causes the disease known as COVID-19.

Your Partner in Care

Affinity Urgent Care’s fully equipped centers in La Marque, Alvin, and Galveston, Texas, offer convenient and important medical services to patients during this unique time. Currently, we are providing rapid COVID-19 testing, Virtual Visits, and in-person urgent care while adhering to the most stringent of sanitization and infection control protocols.

To receive COVID-19 testing at Affinity Urgent care, contact our friendly staff today. To reserve a Virtual Visit, check out our website our give our team a call if you need assistance.  Otherwise, you can stop by one of our convenient locations to receive the convenient care you need. We look forward to helping you feel your best!


Flu Vs. Cold: What’s The Difference?

Can’t tell the difference between the flu and a cold? Don’t feel bad. They’re both respiratory illnesses, but different viruses cause them.

bio lab

It can be tough to differentiate the two. In fact, you need to get tested within the first few days of illness to know for sure.

Generally, though, the flu is much worse than the common cold. In fact, the flu can result in serious health concerns, like pneumonia.

hands

Cold symptoms are usually milder, like a stuffy nose and fatigue.

The Center For Disease Control created this awesome chart to understand the symptoms:

What is the difference between a cold and flu?

Here’s the cold vs. flu takeaway:

If it’s a cold, it’s gradual. The flu is more abrupt.

Fever is very rare for a cold, whereas it’s usual for the flu.

Aches, chills, and fatigue are regular with the flu.

Stuffy nose, sneezing, and sore throat: a few symptoms more common for the flu.

As always, see your provider if you’re feeling feverish, achy, and fatigued.


Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Your Family

Common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work. Each year in the United States, there are millions of cases of the common cold. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more.

Most people get colds in the winter and spring, but it is possible to get a cold at any time of the year. Symptoms usually include sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and body aches. Most people recover within about 7-10 days. However, people with weakened immune systems, asthma, or respiratory conditions may develop serious illness, such as pneumonia.

Many different viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common. Viruses that cause colds can spread from infected people to others through the air and close personal contact. You can also get infected through contact with stool or respiratory secretions from an infected person. This can happen when you shake hands with someone who has a cold, or touch a doorknob that has viruses on it, then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose.

How to Protect Yourself and Others

You can help reduce your risk of getting a cold:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Scrub them for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Viruses live on your hands, and regular handwashing can help protect you from getting sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Viruses can enter your body this way and make you sick.
  • Stay away from people who are sick. Sick people can spread viruses that cause the common cold through close contact with others.

If you have a cold, you should follow these tips to prevent viruses from spreading to other people:

  • Stay at home while you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands
  • Move away from people before coughing or sneezing
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and objects such as toys and doorknobs

There is no vaccine to protect you against the common cold.

How to Feel Better

There is no cure for a cold. To feel better, you should get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Over-the-counter medicines may help ease symptoms but will not make your cold go away any faster. Always read the label and use medications as directed. Talk to your doctor before giving your child nonprescription cold medicines, since some medicines contain ingredients that are not recommended for children. Learn more about symptom relief.

Antibiotics will not help you recover from a cold. They do not work against viruses, and they may make it harder for your body to fight future bacterial infections if you take them unnecessarily. Learn more about when antibiotics work.

When to See a Doctor

You should call your doctor if you or your child has one or more of these conditions:

  • a temperature higher than 100.4° F
  • symptoms that last more than 10 days
  • symptoms that are severe or unusual

If your child is younger than 3 months old and has a fever, you should always call your doctor right away. Your doctor can determine if you or your child has a cold and can recommend therapy to help with symptoms.

SOURCE: www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/


Are You at High Risk for Serious Illness from the Flu?

Influenza, commonly called the “flu,” is a contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.

The flu can be an unpredictable and serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.

CDC estimates that from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

While the flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at greater risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia and bronchitis. These groups include:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives

And people who have medical conditions including:

    • Asthma
    • Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].

Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis)

  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
  • Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver disorders
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids)
  • People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
  • People who are morbidly obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 40 or greater)

Your best defense against influenza – and its possible complications – is to get vaccinated. In fact, CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccination. The flu vaccine is safe and can’t cause the flu. The flu shot—not the nasal spray—is recommended for people with chronic medical conditions.

Flu-Related Complications Can Affect You

Millions of Americans are impacted by long-term health conditions, but many people aren’t aware that they have one of these conditions. For example, diabetes affects about 26 million Americans, but it is estimated that 1 in 4 people with the disease don’t even know they have it. It’s important to ask your doctor whether you have a health condition that makes you more vulnerable to complications from the flu. In addition to those with chronic health conditions, many others are a high risk for flu complications because of their age or other factors.

Consider these facts:

  • During the 2012-2013 flu season, 45% of adults hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza had heart disease.
  • Among Americans 20 years and older, 6.3% are morbidly obese (with a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or greater).
  • In pregnant women, changes in the immune system, heart and lungs make them prone to more severe illness from flu. In addition, a flu-infected pregnant woman also has an increased chance for miscarriage or preterm birth.
  • In the United States, each year an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized because of flu complications.
  • During the 2012-2013 influenza season, 169 flu-related pediatric deaths were reported.
  • Among children 6 months and older, about 80-90% of flu-related pediatric deaths occur in children who have not received a flu vaccine.
  • 9 out of 10 flu-related deaths in the United States occur in people 65 and older.

If you are currently living with a chronic health condition like heart disease, diabetes or asthma, certain behaviors are probably part of your daily routine, like watching your diet or glucose levels, taking your prescribed medications or keeping your inhaler on-hand. Make getting an annual flu vaccine another part of your health management routine—it’s your best defense against the flu and related complications. Since the flu is contagious, it’s also important that all of your close contacts are vaccinated.

If you are at high risk for flu complications, be sure to ask your doctor about getting a pneumococcal vaccination, too. Pneumococcal vaccine can be given at any time during the year and may be given at the same time as influenza vaccine.

SOURCE: www.cdc.gov/features/fluhighrisk/


Seven Mistakes That Will Make Your Cold Worse

woman with cold symptomsA lot of what we believe about the common cold is myth. No, you won’t get a cold because you went outside with a wet head or slept in a drafty room. But here’s what is true. When you’re sick, some common mistakes can make your cold symptoms worse — or prevent you from getting better.

If you’re feeling crummy and stuffed up, here are 7 things that could make your cold worse.

1. Pretending you’re not sick. This never works. You can’t ignore a cold. When you get sick, you need to take care of yourself. Your body needs extra energy when it’s fighting an infection. If you try to push through a cold, especially if you have a fever, you’ll exhaust yourself. That could make your cold worse.

2. Not sleeping enough. Getting enough sleep is key for a healthy immune system. One study found that sleeping less than 7 hours a night almost triples your risk of getting a cold in the first place. If your cold symptoms keep you up at night, try to go to bed earlier or take naps during the day. You need extra rest, however you get it.

3. Getting stressed. It turns out that stress can make you more likely to get a cold. Over time, high levels of stress hormones can stop your immune system from working normally. The result: More sick days.

4. Drinking too little. You need to drink a lot of fluid when you’re sick. Why? Fluids will help thin your mucus, making your sinuses drain better. Just about any fluid will help. Water, juice, hot tea, and soup are all good. Contrary to what you’ve heard, even milk is OK — the notion that it causes mucus build-up is a myth.

5. Drinking alcohol. Too much alcohol can leave you dehydrated and worsen cold symptoms such as congestion. It can also suppress your immune system and — potentially — interact with cold medications you’re taking. Until you’re feeling better, it’s best to lay off the booze.

6. Overusing decongestant sprays. Be careful with nasal decongestant sprays. They may work well at first. But if you use them for more than three days, your stuffy nose will get worse when you stop.

7. Smoking. Smokers get more colds than nonsmokers. They also get worse colds that last longer. Smoking damages cells in the lungs, making it harder for you to fight off a cold. If you’re sick with a cold, don’t smoke — and don’t let anyone around you smoke either.

Not sure if it’s a cold or the flu? Learn about these respiratory illnesses in Flu Vs. Cold: What’s the Difference?

SOURCE: www.webmd.com


How to Prepare for Flu Season

Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. Although epidemics of flu happen every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one year to another. Flu viruses are constantly changing so it’s not unusual for new flu virus strains to appear each year.

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?

The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

What should I do to prepare for this flu season?

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year is always a good idea, and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season.

In addition, you can take everyday preventive steps like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others.

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even in some schools.

Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or work.

Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to locate where you can get a flu shot.

How long does a flu vaccine protect me from getting the flu?.

Multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time. The decline in antibodies is influenced by several factors, including the antigen used in the vaccine, age of the person being vaccinated, and the person’s general health (for example, certain chronic health conditions may have an impact on immunity). When most healthy people with regular immune systems are vaccinated, their bodies produce antibodies and they are protected throughout the flu season, even as antibody levels decline over time. People with weakened immune systems may not generate the same amount of antibodies after vaccination; further, their antibody levels may drop more quickly when compared to healthy people.

For everyone, getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout flu season. It’s important to get a flu vaccine every year, even if you got vaccinated the season before and the viruses in the vaccine have not changed for the current season.

SOURCE: www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/