Colds, cases of flu, and other respiratory illnesses are more common in colder months. People are indoors more often, allowing viruses to pass easily from one person to another — and the cold, dry air may weaken your body’s resistance to winter health conditions.
If you’re coughing and sneezing this winter, how do you know if you have a cold or something more serious? Do you think you might need antibiotics? Are you contagious? Could it be the latest COVID-19 variant, Omicron?
Here are five common winter health conditions, all treatable by our Care on Location telehealth providers. Keep reading to see if we can help restore your health and peace of mind.
Fever, chills, head congestion, body aches, that annoying postnasal drip, coughing — and sometimes even nausea or vomiting or (heaven help us) diarrhea. Each winter, this assortment of symptoms brings patients everywhere heading to health providers to treat infected respiratory tracts: your mouth, nose, throat, and lungs.
The most common root cause is respiratory and flu-like illnesses that are largely viral and don’t require antibiotics. What they do require is tons of rest, fluids, and medicine.
Whether you have the flu or a common cold, you likely got it from airborne droplets through a sneeze, cough, or a contaminated surface. While most people feel terrible for three to five days, taking antiviral medications like Tamiflu or Relenza within the first 48 hours will greatly improve your health. Coughing and general tiredness can linger for two weeks or more, so don’t be concerned if you’re not at your best after a few days. But if your symptoms don’t improve or worsen, or you develop new ones, consult a Care on Location provider.
You may know them as the winter blues. But another issue related to the weather is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which surfaces in late fall or early winter and fades by spring or early summer.
Even if you don’t have SAD or seasonal depression, you may find that you’re more lethargic and less happy during the winter, thanks to the combination of less sunlight and physical activity, plus changes in your sleep schedule. Eventually, these depletions can all wear on our minds.
Depressive symptoms associated with SAD during the fall and winter months may include sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, irritability, fatigue, guilt, a lack of energy, and even thoughts of suicide. Not everyone affected by SAD or seasonal depression experiences the same symptoms, so your experience will be unique.
Some experts link the condition to an imbalance in serotonin and melatonin, the chemicals in the brain that regulate sleep, mood, and energy levels. That’s why treatment often involves 30 minutes of light exposure per day — ideally in the morning — and more physical activity to naturally boost the mood. If you need to talk to someone to help you navigate depressive emotions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Our mental health professionals are here to help.
Viral gastroenteritis is an intestinal infection that most of us think of as a stomach bug. However, it’s not related to the common flu or the influenza virus — instead, it’s most commonly caused by norovirus, a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Stomach viruses are very contagious and can cause severe symptoms that vary in duration. Typically, vomiting may last one to two days, but some gastrointestinal symptoms can last up to one week. Ugh.
Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis can include:
Exactly what you need in the middle of the cold inside months. These viruses develop quickly, usually within 12 to 48 hours, so you and everyone in your household should make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and often.You can reach out to us if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms as well.
While you don’t typically need to see a medical professional about a sore throat, it’s important to pay attention to sore throat symptoms. A sore throat could be an indicator of a more serious developing winter health problem.
Usually caused by viral infections, sore throats are common in the winter because of temperature changes, like when we go from the warmth of summer and the slight chill of fall to winter’s freezing temperatures.
Besides allergies, colds, and the flu virus, a sore throat can be due to:
If you’re worried about the sore throat symptoms you’re experiencing, we can help you! All you have to do is check in with us.
For those of us with asthma, cold, dry air can cause our airways to seize up, triggering an asthma attack. Winter air can also harbor lovely critters like mold spores and dust mites, so when you breathe in that damp, cold air, you put your lungs at risk for inhaling stuff that causes flare-ups and airway swelling.
Be sure to take any medication your physician prescribes you, and always carry your rescue inhaler if you have one.
Don’t have an inhaler? We can get you set up.
And to stay on the safe side, you might consider exercising indoors and avoiding vigorous physical activity outdoors on especially cold and windy days.
It’s very possible that the sickness coursing through your body is a result of COVID-19 variants, such as Omicron.
If that’s the case, Care on Location can help! We’ll work with you to identify your health status, discuss home treatment options, and the best ways to keep yourself and others safe.
Our online providers can evaluate and treat your cough, prescribe an inhaler or antibiotics, and even order labs and X-rays.
Here’s some helpful information to know about COVID-19 as well as links to check out for testing, treatment, and more:
As of December 2021, Omicron has been detected in most states and territories, and the proportion of COVID-19 cases it’s causing is rapidly increasing. It’s highly contagious, increasing even so-called breakthrough infections, meaning infections of the vaccinated.
At this time, experts aren’t sure of the severity of illness it causes, or how well available vaccines and medications work to treat it. But what they do know is it’ll likely spread faster than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus.
If you think you’ve recently been exposed to COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms you’re concerned about, start here.
Finally, mask up indoors and in areas of high community transmission! Masks offer protection against all variants.This can be overwhelming. That’s OK. If you’re confused, worried, or you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with us. We’re here to help.
Telemedicine evaluation is a great option for treating winter health conditions.
Think about it: When you’re sick and trying to manage unmanageable symptoms, the last thing you want to do is leave your house. We want to make getting better as easy as possible for you.
Our services include a Video Care Consult for only $69.99 for uninsured or self-pay patients. If you’re a Colorado Medicaid member, your visit is completely free, or it’s often covered by other insurance providers. Wherever you are in Colorado, we connect you to a qualified healthcare provider from the comfort of your home and device.
We’re always here to help.