Is It The Flu Or Cedar Fever?

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Is It The Flu Or Cedar Fever?

If you’ve been sniffling, sneezing and coughing the past few weeks you’re not alone! Not only is it flu season, it’s also cedar season in Texas. Learn how to spot the signs of seasonal winter allergies and how to tell the difference between them and the flu.

Seasonal Flu Symptoms

While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses can be detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. According to the CDC, flu infections tend to spike after the holiday season and can extend through March.

Medical Director Dr. Greg Hadden says, “We are in the middle of flu season and we are seeing a lot of people who are sick and suffering. The CDC just announced that this year’s flu season is turning out to be worse than last year’s. The good news is that this year’s vaccine is a good match for the dominant strains of flu that are circulating. The bad news is that currently only about 40% of Americans have gotten the flu shot this year; which may be why we are seeing so many flu patients turning up in the emergency room.”

Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue. Because the flu can often last for a week or longer, complications can arise as a result of the illness including pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma flare-ups and more.

When To Seek Emergency Care

While most people who get the flu can treat themselves at home, there are times when you should seek emergency medical care. If you or your child have any of the following symptoms or are at risk of complications get medical care immediately:

  • Coughing up blood or green-tinged mucus
  • Trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or rapid breathing
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Bluish-colored lips or nails
  • High fever
  • Convulsions from fever (this usually affects children)
  • Fever or cough that becomes severe or won’t go away

Cedar Fever Symptoms

Cedar is notorious for being one of Texas’ worst allergens but could be worse this year due to the amount of rain local areas received in 2016 which spurred cedar tree growth and more pollen. Typically, cedar season starts in mid-December and can last through March.

Symptoms of cedar fever or cedar allergies include runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, congestion, headache and sore throat. Although it’s in the name, most people who experience cedar fever don’t actually run a fever but may feel “flushed” due to the allergic reaction.

When To Seek Emergency Care

While most people with cedar fever or cedar allergies can use over-the-counter antihistamines, eye drops and nasal sprays to reduce symptoms and ease comfort, if symptoms persist they may lead to a sinus infection and can worsen other health issues like asthma. If you or your child have any of the following symptoms or are at risk of complications, seek medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or rapid breathing
  • Constriction of airways and a swollen tongue or throat
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Skin reactions including hives and itching

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, L.P., a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for more than 28 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. To find the location nearest you, click here.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Play It Safe With Christmas Toys

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December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month! Review these safety guidelines before you buy Christmas toys this year.

With the excitement around buying toys for your kids this holiday season it can be easy to forget about the safety factors associated with them. In 2015 alone, an estimated 254,200 toy-related injuries were treated in hospital emergency rooms. 41% of those injuries were due to lacerations, contusions or abrasions. Before you purchase children’s toys this year review these safety guidelines and play it safe!

Guidelines For Choosing Safe Toys

  1. Pick Age Appropriate Toys
    Most toys show a “recommended age” sticker which can be used as a starting point when selecting toys for kids. Consider the age and individual skills and abilities of the individual child who will receive the toy, especially for infants and children under age three.
  2. The Bigger The Better
    Choking is a serious hazard for young kids, especially those under three. Avoid toys that contain small parts or have small pieces that can be removed or torn off. One way to determine if a toy is a choking hazard is to try and fit the toy through a toilet paper roll. If the toy part is small enough to fit inside then it is not safe.
  3. Don’t Pick Toys With Small Magnets or Batteries
    The Consumer Product Safety Commission considers magnets a hidden home hazard and recommends keeping them away from kids under the age of 14. Magnets are small and can be easily removed from toys or even fall out. If two or more magnets are swallowed they can be attracted to each other inside the stomach and intestines and cause holes, blockages, infections and worse. Medical Director Dr. Greg Hadden adds, “Be especially mindful to keep small button batteries away from children. When ingested, these batteries can erode through body tissues and can result in a life threatening situation.”
  4. Look At The Label
    If a toy has a label that reads “ASTM” it means that the toy has passed a safety inspection done by American Society for Testing Materials. If a toy does not have this label it does not necessarily mean it isn’t safe but that you should check for small parts, age appropriateness and skill level.
  5. Check For Recalls
    Toys (and other products) can be recalled for a variety of reasons including high lead levels, choking hazards, injuries and other serious risks. An easy way to find out of the toys your kids want for Christmas are on a recall list is to enter them in the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

About Five Star ER
Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, L.P., a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for more than 28 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. To find the location nearest you, click here.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Stop The Spread Of Germs By Washing Your Hands!

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95% of people do not wash their hands correctly! Are you one of them?

We use our hands a lot each day for almost all activities – like cooking, cleaning, working and texting. But one thing you might also be doing is spreading germs and bacteria. Medical Director Dr. Greg Hadden reminds us, ““Handwashing is important all year round, but it is something to especially be vigilant about during the peak viral season that runs generally from October to March. There are a lot of contaminated surfaces out there, so make sure you’re washing your hands frequently and correctly.”

How Clean Are Your Hands?

You probably already know to wash your hands after using the bathroom and before you eat, but how clean are your hands right now? According to one study, there are 332,000 genetically distinct bacteria on the human hand. While not every strain of bacteria that lives on our hands and skin can make you sick, some can. The most common disease causing bacteria transferred from hands include E.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA (which is resistant to certain antibiotics), as well as cold and flu viruses. Washing your hands frequently (and correctly) can reduce the number of disease causing bacteria on your hands and prevent the spread of germs to other surfaces and even people.

How Do Your Hands Spread Bacteria And Germs?

Your hands come into contact with more surfaces, objects and people than any other part of your body which makes it easy to transfer bacteria and germs from one place or thing to another. You can even transfer the bacteria on your hands to other parts of your body! One study found that people touched their faces an average of 3.6 times per hour and common objects an average of 3.3 times per hour. According to the study, people likely get germs on their hands much more frequently than they wash germs off their hands.

Disease causing germs often hide in some surprising places, many you may touch every day. For example, a kitchen sink harbors 1,000 times more germs than a toilet and E. coli can often be found in washing machines. While the number of germs and bacteria on everyday surfaces can be scary, remember washing your hands frequently (and correctly) is the best way to prevent the spread of germs to other people and yourself!

95% Of People Wash Their Hands Wrong

The Importance of Hand Washing

Are you sure you’re washing your hands properly? Correctly washing your hands takes time – and soap! According to one study, only 5% people who used the bathroom washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it takes 15-20 seconds of vigorously washing hands with soap and water to effectively kill disease causing germs on hands. Regular soap doesn’t actually kill germs or bacteria, it is actually the friction and rubbing of hands together with the soap that loosens germs and bacteria and cleans hands. That’s why washing for at least 15 seconds is so important!

How To Properly Wash Your Hands

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

About Five Star ER
Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, L.P., a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for more than 28 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. To find the location nearest you, click here.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Food for Thought: When to Throw Out Thanksgiving Leftovers

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leftover food securityAside from getting together with family and friends, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is all the leftovers! Use these tips to keep food safe and prevent foodborne illness this holiday season.

What is Foodborne Illness?

More commonly known as food poisoning, foodborne illness occurs when people eat food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals. Once inside the body, the bacteria or other contaminants can infect or cause irritation to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and cause common symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and chills.

Why is Foodborne Illness Common Around Thanksgiving?

The most common cause of foodborne illness on Thanksgiving is not refrigerating leftover food promptly and properly. The temperature “danger zone” is between 70° F and 130° F where it is estimated that harmful bacteria can rapidly multiply as often as every 10 minutes. It’s scary to think about, but each year over 400,000 people suffer from foodborne illness after consuming Thanksgiving leftovers.

Medical Director Dr. Greg Hadden says, “Hand washing is one of the most important things that you can do to prevent your loved ones from getting food poisoning. Remember that clean hands can easily become contaminated from just a quick grab of the bathroom door handle or a handshake from Uncle Fred. If your hands touch something other than the food you are preparing, it is a good idea to rewash your hands with soap and water.”

When Should You Throw Out Leftovers?

Typically, leftovers are safe if kept in the refrigerator for three to four days. If you don’t think you will be able to eat all the leftovers you have within that timeframe, then freeze them to prevent bacteria growth. In most cases, the bacteria or contaminants that cause foodborne illness cannot be seen or tasted so it can be difficult to know if the food you are about to eat is safe. A general rule to follow before eating leftovers is “when in doubt, throw it out!”

How to Treat Foodborne Illness

In most cases, foodborne illness lasts for only a few days and symptoms can be treated with over the counter medications to treat fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

However, there are many different disease-causing microbes that can contaminate foods, so there are many different foodborne infections. If symptoms continue after 48-hours or if you have severe abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, belong to a high-risk group or suspect you might have botulism poisoning, seek emergency medical help immediately.

Tips To Keep Food Safe Year Round

Most cases of foodborne illness can be prevented with proper food handling! Here are just a few tips to prevent foodborne illness year-round:

1. Do not let perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.
2. Minimize the time a food is in the “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 F (4 and 60 C) — when bacteria can quickly multiply.
3. Always reheat food to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees or higher.
4. Use separate cutting boards/utensils to prevent contamination from one food to another.
5. Before touching or preparing food, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, L.P., a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for more than 28 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. To find the location nearest you, click here.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.