What's Going Around: respiratory infections, Hep C, C. diff.

What's Going Around: respiratory infections, Hep C, C. Diff.

The pollen forecast has been extremely high in Southwest Louisiana and that is leading more allergy sufferers to the doctor with some of the same complaints of those with upper respiratory infections: fever, sore throat and runny nose.

CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital infectious disease physician, Dr. Timothy Haman says, "The best thing to do is if you know you have a history of allergies is to try to take some over-the-counter allergy medicine: Zyrtec, Claritin, Allegra. If you have continued fever for more than five to seven days or persistent cough or runny nose that lasts more than five days or so, you should probably get in touch with your doctor."

A simple blood test that was not around 20 years ago is helping doctors detect Hepatitis C in patients that had no idea they were carrying it. If it is left undetected and untreated, the effects can be bad on your liver.  "The CDC has actually come out recently and recommended that anyone between the ages of 45 and 65 get tested," said Dr. Haman, "because it's mostly an asymptomatic illness, but it can progress over 20-25 years and eventually cause liver damage and liver failure."

An overuse of antibiotics is killing the healthy bacteria in some patients, causing a condition called C. diff.  "It's due to a bacteria called clostridium difficile that is found in some people's intestinal systems," said Dr. Haman, "and when those people get placed on antibiotics, the antibiotics destroy all the helpful bacteria and that bacteria takes over."

This condition had been seen primarily inside hospitals, but is moving toward nursing homes, where antibiotics are being prescribed more regularly.

Dr. Haman says if you are on antibiotics and experiencing stomach cramps or diarrhea, that is not normal and you should see your doctor.

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