Respiratory Season Brings New Fears but Old Foes Are Still the Most Common

Are you feeling ill and wondering when to come in to be seen? You may not be alone with these concerns. It’s not always easy to determine the difference between a viral upper respiratory infection, Influenza or other respiratory infections like Pneumonia. Piedmont Urgent Care can help distinguish between the many different causes and recommend treatment.

What about Coronavirus? Coronavirus is a respiratory virus that has garnered a lot of attention lately for two important reasons: 1.) It is a new infectious disease in humans and because of that, we are still learning about how it will behave. While influenza is a very dangerous and deadly virus that kills over 40,000 Americans every year, it is familiar to us and we understand the risk. 2.) Coronavirus is demonstrating that it is very contagious, and there is currently no vaccine or approved medications (though this may change soon). And yes, Coronavirus can be deadly, especially in the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus infection? The symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. However, many infected people will have rather mild symptoms, like a sore throat. While it is unclear why some people deteriorate, most of those infected with Coronavirus recover fully after a mild illness.

How is Coronavirus spread? The virus spreads through contact with another infected person. It may take 2-14 days for someone to become ill after being exposed to the Coronavirus. This time frame is called the incubation period. As you may already know, while there are sporadic cases in many countries throughout the world, the vast majority of infections remain in China. For that reason, if you have NOT traveled to China within the past 14 days or been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus infection, you are highly unlikely to have the disease.

What should I do if I get a fever and cough? While things can certainly change, for now, you are far more likely to have influenza or another type of respiratory infection. At Piedmont Urgent Care, we can evaluate and test for flu and other infections. There are treatments available that can help shorten the duration of flu and reduce symptoms. And if needed, we can check for pneumonia with a chest x-ray.

What if the Corornavirus outbreak becomes more widespread in the U.S.? This is certainly possible, but remains unlikely for now. A similar Coronavirus outbreak, called SARS, occurred in 2003 and originated in China. While sporadic cases are seen globally, the vast majority were limited to mainland China. However, viruses are known to mutate and predicting their behavior is extremely difficult. That is why we are tracking the recommendations of the CDC and our local public health departments on a daily basis. If the Coronavirus situation changes, we will do our part to keep you informed regarding recommendations.

Finally, it’s important to remember that we all have a role in reducing the spread of viruses and other infectious diseases. This starts with good handwashing. Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and cleansing hard surfaces of droplet particles. Small things can make a big difference in your health care