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Kristina Duda, R.N.

Cold / Flu


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Sore Throat, Strep Throat, Scarlet Fever

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat that can cause pain, fever, headache and even abdominal pain. It is most common in school age children but can occur in people of any age.

Scarlet fever is the name given to strep throat when it also causes a rash - usually on the torso. It is not more severe or serious than strep throat, it's just an added symptom.

If you have a sore throat, it could be caused by strep or by something else. Sore throats are a common symptom of many illnesses, most of which are viral and don't require any treatment.

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Bronchitis or Pneumonia?

Monday April 21, 2014

Both illnesses cause painful coughs and can last for weeks or even months. But do you know the main differences between bronchitis and pneumonia?Could that cough be bronchitis or pneumonia?

Bronchitis and pneumonia are both often complications of common illnesses such as colds, upper respiratory infections or the flu. However, most pneumonia is bacterial and causes severe symptoms while bronchitis is often viral with symptoms that are bothersome but not as serious.

Learn more about these two illnesses and their similarities and differences:

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Photo Credit: Michael Krasowitz/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images


Could Those Cold Symptoms Be Allergies?

Monday April 14, 2014

Here in the Southeastern US, Spring is in full swing. Flowers are blooming and there is pollen everywhere. When I walked outside this morning, I could actually see yellow clouds of pollen in the air.

If you are like me and millions of others that suffer from seasonal allergies, this time of year can be especially brutal. I love seeing all of the flowers bloom, the leaves come back to the trees and the grass turn green again, but I do not love how the pollen in the air makes me feel.

This year seems especially bad, but I probably feel that way every year.

There may be some occasions though where you aren't sure if your symptoms are caused by allergies or an actual cold. The runny nose, sore throat, headache and dry cough could be from either one. Unfortunately, many times you won't know for sure whether it's a cold or allergies until you have waited a week or so to see if the symptoms get better or not.

If you aren't sure, we do have some resources to help you figure it out (hopefully without waiting through two weeks of miserable discomfort).

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Symptoms of Pneumonia You Need to Know

Saturday April 12, 2014

If you have ever had pneumonia, you know how painful it can be. Everyone from infants to the elderly can get pneumonia and symptoms may vary depending on your overall health and the type of pneumonia you get.

If you have any of these common symptoms of pneumonia, talk to your health care provider to find out if you might have it. If you do, you will need to know about treatment options as well.

Symptoms of Pneumonia include:

  • Painful Cough
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Chest Pain
  • Headache
  • Shortness of Breath

If you think you or a loved one might be dealing with pneumonia, talk to your health care provider so you can get the treatment you need.

Could It Be a Cold or Allergies?

Monday April 7, 2014

Spring is here and with the warmer weather and Spring blooms come runny noses and sneezing for millions of people with allergies. But how do you know if those symptoms are caused by a cold or allergies? So many of the symptoms are similar, it can be hard to know which one you have.Is it a cold or allergies?

If you are dealing with a runny or stuffy nose, itchy throat, headache, watery eyes, sneezing or coughing, take our quiz to see which one is more likely causing those symptoms.

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Photo credit: George Doyle/Getty

Do These Cold "Treatments" Really Work?

Friday April 4, 2014

I have seen some interesting so-called "treatments" for the common cold (among other things) floating around social media and the interwebs. They are often passed along by friends and acquaintances who I know to be intelligent people. However, they may have temporarily forgotten the old adage - don't believe everything you read.

After seeing more than one outlandish claim passed around by more than one friend, I decided to do some research of my own and find out where these claims originated and if there was actually any science to back them up.

If you have seen any of these, you may find the answers interesting:

If you have found other wild claims about colds, the flu or other common illnesses on social media or the internet, send them to me and I'll see what I can find out about their validity.


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Could You Have Bronchitis or Pneumonia?

Thursday March 27, 2014

Do you know what the differences are between bronchitis and pneumonia? They both cause painful coughs but they are very different illnesses treated in different ways.An illustration of normal bronchi vs. bronchitis

Both bronchitis and pneumonia often occur after a person has had a common illness like the flu or a cold, but bronchitis is typically viral and pneumonia is often bacterial.

The severity of the two illnesses is usually very different as well. Many people with bronchitis will be able to go about their daily lives even though they have a bothersome cough. But most people with pneumonia will be too sick to do much of anything.

To learn more about the similarities and differences between these two illnesses, see:

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Is There a "Stomach Flu" Going Around?

Saturday March 22, 2014

I hear this question a lot. Unfortunately, there is almost always some type of gastrointestinal virus ("stomach flu") circulating. These GI bugs cause really unpleasant symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and fevers and they are highly contagious. If one person in the house gets sick, it is very difficult to keep everyone else healthy.

These stomach bugs (they really aren't related to the real flu at all) can be caused by a number of different viruses, the most common being norovirus. Outbreaks of norovirus have been known to sicken hundreds of people at a time, especially when people are in close proximity to one another for extended periods of time - such as on cruise ships and in schools.

Most of these viruses are relatively short lived. The vomiting shouldn't last more than about 24 hours and the diarrhea typically lasts up to a week after that. However, you need to be careful to watch for signs of dehydration and also monitor for other symptoms such as severe headache or constant abdominal pain (that isn't relieved when you vomit or have diarrhea) that could indicate something more serious than a virus is causing your symptoms.

If you do get one of these stomach bugs, there isn't a magic pill that you can take that will cure the virus, but there are a lot of things you can do to limit the symptoms - and chances are good that you are doing at least some of these things wrong because most people do.

If you get sick with symptoms of the stomach flu and you have concerns, contact your health care provider. Most people don't need any real treatment other than managing the symptoms at home, but some people do.


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Why Isn't There a Cure for the Common Cold?

Thursday March 20, 2014

If it's so common, why do we not have a cure yet? With all of the advances in modern medicine in the past several decades, millions of people are baffled by the fact that we still don't have a cure for the ever present illness that we all have to deal with from time to time - the common cold.

Why exactly do we not have a cure yet? Well, it's complicated. There are several reasons why developing a cure for the common cold is not as simple as it sounds. Colds can actually be caused by hundreds of different viruses and developing a vaccine or medication to prevent or kill all of those viruses at once is just not possible, at least not right now.

To learn more about where we are in the hunt for a cure, see:

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Did You Know? There Are Many Types of Pneumonia

Thursday March 13, 2014

Pneumonia can be a scary illness. It is more than just a bad cough. When combined with the flu, it is in the top 10 causes of death in the United States and a vast majority of those deaths come from pneumonia rather than the flu.

But did you know there are different types of pneumonia? You have probably heard of "walking pneumonia" but do you know what it is and how it differs from other types?

Learn more about some of the most common types and causes of pneumonia and see how they affect us in different ways.

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