Illness Update

Illness Update

                                                           Illness Update

                                                       By Fletcher Donohoe

With October coming to a close, the school year will once again bring about illnesses for students to receive. From the common cold to the Zika virus, illnesses will soon be infecting people around us. These are a few of the most common illnesses. They are categorized in the United States by very common (3+ million cases a year), common (200,000 cases a year), and extremely rare (fewer than 1,000 cases a year).

Acute Bronchitis (very common). According to the Mayo Clinic, Acute Bronchitis identified through a deep, persistent cough, and shortness of breath. It will usually stay around for weeks on end. Physicians do not often prescribe antibiotics. It is spread through just about every type of contact, like airborne particles, contaminated surfaces, and contact with an infected person.

Common Cold (very common). According to the Mayo Clinic, the Common Cold is not spread through temperature, but rather through many types of viruses. Symptoms include a runny nose, lots of sneezing, and congestion. Touching infected surfaces, and coming into contact with infected people spread it. It usually lasts about two weeks, and Tylenol as well as other over-the-counter medicines can help with the symptoms.

Influenza (very common). According to the CDC the flu, also known as influenza is common illness, but it has a vaccine can often prevent it. Symptoms include a fever, congestion, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, headaches, and a cough; Tylenol can be used to calm the symptoms. “Flu Season” is a time during the year when the flu infection rate goes up, meaning it is more likely that you will contract the flu during this time. According to the CDC, “Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and March, although activity can last as late as May.” It can resolve in anywhere from a few days for healthy individuals to a few weeks for unhealthy/high risk individuals.

Pneumonia (very common). According to the American Lung Association, Pneumonia is a respiratory Infection where the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs fill with fluid. It produces a robust cough as well as a fever, and if it is not treated early, Pneumonia can be dangerous to all age groups. Most all types of Pneumonia are treated with an antibiotic. To prevent Pneumonia, the American Lung Association recommends this “Get a flu shot every year to prevent seasonal influenza. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so preventing the flu is a good way to prevent pneumonia.”

Strep Throat (very common). “The nurse walked in, and she said ‘open your mouth’ [then] she stuck a stick in my mouth.” Said sophomore Mike D. This process is called a throat culture, and it is how a Physician determines if someone has Strep throat. A throat culture works by touching the sores in your throat, and having them analyzed for the Strep virus. Symptoms include a sore throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. It is treated with antibiotics. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Streptococcal bacteria are highly contagious. They can spread through airborne droplets when someone with the infection coughs or sneezes, or through shared food or drinks.”

Upper Respiratory Infection (very common). According to the Mayo Clinic, an Upper Respiratory Infection (URTI) is a viral infection that affects the airways, as well as the nose and throat. The infection essentially hits the head on all fronts, as it comes with a stuffy nose, cough, sneezing, and a sore throat. Since it is a virus it cannot be treated with antibiotics, so the best treatment is over-the-counter medications and rest. If all goes well, symptoms will usually clear up within two weeks.

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Zika Virus (extremely rare). According to the CDC the Zika virus is very rare in the U.S., yet Zika virus is at the forefront of the news lately due to cases popping up in South and Central America, and even reaching as far as Miami, Florida. Usually, the virus does not have any symptoms.

But it’s claim-to-fame is when it does have symptoms and side effects.

Symptoms include joint pain, fever, rash, and red eyes. Although it is extremely rare, Zika can trigger paralysis when someone is infected. Less rare is its reputation to cause birth defects in children if a pregnant woman is affected. Since there is no proven treatment or vaccine, the best way to fight Zika is with plenty of rest and Tylenol.

The CDC has issued a travel warning for this virus to parts of Florida, as well as parts of South and Latin America.

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