ALEXANDRIA, VA – Last month we sat down with Dr. Vivek Sinha as he described types of upper respiratory illnesses. This month we take a closer look into ways we can find treatment and precautions we can take to prevent winter illnesses.
ZEBRA: What can I do to prevent getting sick this winter season?
VS: There are multiple steps we can take to decrease our chances for getting sick. The best results are obtained when we use multiple preventative measures at the same time. The best recommendations are the simple ones:
- If you are sick or not feeling well, then stay home.
- Do not expose yourself to others and potentially spread your illness.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- I often tell my patients that I see people who are sick all day but I do not get ill more often than average–because I wash my hands before each patient, after each patient, before I eat, every time I come in from outdoors, and multiple other times. Hand washing works!
- Get appropriate sleep.
- Sleep is critically important for having a healthy immune system.
- People who do not get enough sleep are more prone to infections when exposed to viruses.
- Be physically active.
- Moderate, sustained activity for 30 minutes a day will improve not only your physical well-being but it will also do wonders for your mental happiness.
- The best way to prevent musculoskeletal injury is to have a string body, a strong core and a strong back.
- Make sure your vaccines are up to date.
- Get your flu shot every year.
- Make sure your COVID vaccines are up to date
- Check with your doctor for other age appropriate vaccines such as the Shingles vaccine, the pneumonia vaccine, and the whooping cough vaccine
ZEBRA: Are over-the-counter (OTC) medications safe to take?
VS: We should have a healthy respect for ALL medications, whether they be prescription or over-the-counter. The biggest problem I see with OTC medications is that either people are inappropriately combining medications, or the OTC medications are inappropriately interacting with their prescription medications.
There are many different brands of OTC cough and cold medications and most of them have multiple ingredients. It is very easy to take two types of medications and accidentally double the recommended amount of a particular component of the medication. For example, acetaminophen is common in many cough and cold medications, but we often see people taking additional doses of Tylenol (also known as acetaminophen). Doubling or tripling the amount of recommended dosage is dangerous and can cause serious harm which can lead to hospitalizations or death. I tell my patients that they should always check with us prior to taking any OTC meds or they should talk to the pharmacist who is on site.
Anyone who is taking any prescription medication should always discuss it with their physician prior to taking any OTC medications.
ZEBRA: What are the pros/cons of going to an Urgent Care versus the ER, and what are the differences?
VS: Urgent cares are staffed by providers that can perform point-of-care testing (like strep swabs and flu tests) and can provide a definitive diagnosis and treatment for common, non-life threatening conditions. For more serious conditions, like if someone is having chest pain or has a very high fever, or if they have a serious complex medical history, going to an Emergency Department may be the better option. There they can be evaluated for life-threatening conditions and have access to in-depth diagnostic testing as well as imaging and, depending on the ER, have access to different specialists.
A family physician, and owner of Belle View Medical Partners at 113 S. West Street, Suite 204 in Alexandria, Dr. Vivek Sinha offers concierge memberships to individuals, families, and employee teams. For more information, contact his Old Town office at 703-348-5603, or visit.belleviewmedical.com