5 Winter Health Conditions Telehealth Can Treat (and What to Do if Your “Cold” Is COVID-19)

Posted by Jon Savage on Jan 12, 2022

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.

5 Common Winter Health Hazards You Can Treat From Your Bed

1. Colds and viruses

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 has 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.

2. Seasonal depression

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.

3. Stomach flu

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:

  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mild fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Exactly what you need in the middle of the cold, enclosed 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.

4. Sore throat

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: 

  • Strep throat. More common in children than adults, strep throat is often a winter health problem because it’s caused by bacteria, and bacteria are easier to spread when people spend a lot of time close to each other.
  • Acute bronchitis. Did you know that bronchi are the two large tubes that bring air to the lungs? When they produce too much mucus from being inflamed by a cold or flu virus, or simply inhaling a bacteria, that’s bronchitis. Treatments for this vary, depending on the infection.
  • Poor indoor air quality. We tend to spend more time indoors during the cold winter months, and the quality of the air indoors is typically much lower than the quality of the air outdoors. This alone can cause sore throats among those of us more sensitive to airborne dust and other gunk.
    • Little things can make a difference in your home’s air quality, like changing the air filters, washing your linens regularly, sweeping, dusting (don’t forget those ceiling and other fan blades!), and vacuuming.
    • And make sure your carbon monoxide detectors work! 
  • Pneumonia. When your lungs are infected with this virus, it’ll cause the air sacs to fill with pus and other liquids. Many forms of this virus are treatable with antibiotics. In some cases, though, pneumonia can be life-threatening. So watch out for symptoms that include phlegmy coughs, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.
  • COVID-19. Yup, you have to consider this, too. If you’ve been exposed to and have contracted COVID-19, symptoms typically appear 2 to 14 days after your exposure to the virus. These symptoms often include fever or chills, a persistent cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. Isolate in your home, wear a mask if you’re around others, and schedule a COVID-19 test ASAP if you experience these symptoms. 

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.

5. Asthma flareups

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 flareups 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.

If Your Winter Sickness Is Actually COVID-19

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.

  • Find a testing center near you.
  • The CDC recommends that everyone age five and up protects themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated. For people age 18 and older, it recommends a booster shot at least two months after your initial vaccine or six months after completing a series of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
  • So Schedule a COVID-19 vaccine or booster if you aren’t up to date.
  • Call Colorado’s Health Emergency Line for Coronavirus to get updates and general information — 1-877-462-2911.
  • Refer to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for updates, guidelines, and resources. 
  • If you’re unsure of which viral test you need, check the COVID-19 Viral Testing Tool
  • Keep in mind that while at-home COVID-19 tests can detect the omicron variant, they may be less consistent in doing so consistently. If you need to order an at-home test, find one 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.

Care on Location — Here to Simplify Treatment 

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.

Care on!

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