What's Going Around: upper respiratory infections

What's Going Around: upper respiratory infections

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Stuffy noses, sneezing, congestion, and coughing are not just hallmark signs of a winter cold, they can hit you even in the heat of summer.  

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital infection preventionist, Bridget Redlich, says she is seeing upper respiratory infections in the highest numbers this week.  These bugs are common year-round.

"It can be whenever there's changes in the pollen and temperatures, humidity.  All of the different mold counts can affect people not just from the allergy perspective, but also the way that any of those upper respiratory viruses can be spread," said Redlich.

When the symptoms come on, it can be easy to confuse it as allergies versus an upper respiratory infection.  But Redlich says if it is an infection that is lingering, you will see - and definitely feel - a change in the severity of symptoms.

"You've got different color drainage when you're blowing your nose or sneezing, as well as developing into a fever or things that don't just go away with your usual means of treating an allergy exacerbation," said Redlich.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of an upper respiratory infection:

"Not just the head and scratchy throat," said Redlich, "but sinus pressure, ear pressure and pain, anything that's draining into the back of the throat and also getting into coughing and not just being able to get rid of it with those usual means, it's typically more than just the allergies."

The source can be viral or bacterial and these upper respiratory infections spread easily through droplets from a sick person.  That is why Redlich is reminding everyone to practice good handwashing and hygiene as kids head back to school.

"Without paying attention to those sort of things and promoting those good hygiene practices, there could definitely be more cases of this going around if they're not careful," said Redlich.

Since most upper respiratory infections are viral, the treatment is managing the symptoms, along with rest and drinking lots of fluids.  If your infection is not improving, you need to see a doctor to prevent a more serious lower infection, like bronchitis or pneumonia.

Copyright KPLC 2016.  All rights reserved.