Common cold versus allergy confusion, chronic sinusitis and Type A flu: that is what's going around this week in Southwest Louisiana.
There is an increased number of complaints of nasal congestion, stuffy nose, watery eyes, sore throat and coughing.
Doctors are reporting some people are coming in for appointments thinking they have a common cold, when it is actually all the result of allergies. Dr. Jeff Dobbins, family medicine physician with Beauregard Memorial Hospital explains, "Typically, people that have the common cold usually don't have symptoms that last more than 10-14 days. These are caused by viruses and your body in most immuno-competent individuals can take care of these viruses without antibiotic treatment."
Dr. Dobbins says a bacterial infection will sometimes follow a cold virus. If you are experiencing pain around your face and eyes, worsening cough or thick yellow-green mucus, fever and multiple days of symptoms, those are signs that you could have a bacterial infection and the reason antibiotics would be prescribed.
If you suffer from allergies, Dr. Dobbins says you can reduce the impact by having clean air filters, closing windows and showering when you get home to wash off the pollen.
Chronic allergy sufferers are also being treated for sinusitis, which is on the rise this time of year. "They have increased amounts of sinus pressure in their face, they're very uncomfortable. They can present with migraine headaches," said Dr. Dobbins, "these people tend to need more specialized care, whether it be an allergist or ENT."
A specialist might recommend allergy testing to tailor treatment for you or in some cases recommend minor procedures to open up the nasal passages.
Flu numbers are way down, but Type A influenza is still sickening people in Southwest Louisiana. You can get the flu year-round and Dr. Dobbins says pregnant women are in one of the highest risk groups needing vaccine protection. "Influenza is still a killer in the United States," he said, "it's seen that 20-30,000 people yearly die from complications secondary to influenza infection."
While the vaccine is always a hot and debatable topic, doctors agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks, especially when the life of a mother and her unborn baby are involved.