What's Going Around: allergies, ear infections, muscle strains

Sneezing, sore throats and itchy eyes have people lining up to see the doctor this week.  Plus, there are more reports of painful ear infections and a muscle strain being reported on a daily basis.

The forecast for the next several days promises beautiful weather and lots of sunshine, but with more people getting outdoors will come more complaints from allergy sufferers.

CHRISTUS St. Patrick Medical Group's Dr. Phillip Conner says there are some steps you can take before you get outside to prevent allergic reactions.  "Taking an antihistamine before you get out or even some over-the-counter corticosteroid nose sprays that you can use preventatively, which work really well," he said, "and then also, just protection with a facemask if you're going to be out in a very dusty environment, such as cutting the grass or working in the yard."

If you are susceptible to allergens, you are also at an increased risk for developing middle ear infections, especially in children.  "There's a direct link between when those allergy symptoms begin to be more aggressive and the onset of ear pain," said Dr. Conner.

Ear infections are typically treated with decongestants and antihistamines. Antibiotics are sometimes used in prolonged infections,

Back to the outdoors and to a muscle strain connected to working on flower beds or around your house.  "I'm seeing people every day with back muscle strains," said Dr. Conner.  "If the injury does occur, the best way is to use anti-inflammatories, over-the-counter, rest, ice."

Dr. Conner says you can minimize your risk for developing muscle strains by stretching before you get to working outdoors and limiting the amount of heavy lifting.

Doctors are also continuing to treat patients for gastroenteritis - a common and contagious stomach virus.

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