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Winter 2012

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What's Up Doc?

Winter in Southwest Florida is beautiful, yes, but, healtwise it could be risky…

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Profiles in
Urgent Care

Sylwia Bareja – P.A.

Urgent Care Center of SWFL

What's Up Doc? 

Taming Colds and Flu this Winter Season 

It's no secret that our population grows significantly this time of year, as "snowbirds" from northern climes and Europe descend on Southwest Florida to bask in our tropical sunshine and escape the six-foot snowdrifts that keep them inside for weeks at home.  Many of these "winter" visitors are seniors and all that travel and exposure to new environments and people can put extra stress on a body's immune system, not to mention the exposure to new germs and viruses for our full-time residents.

Did you know that the average American suffers through two to four colds each year and has a 20 percent chance of getting the flu.  With all the travel and population growth during flu season in Florida, your risk may be even higher than the average.   While we can't guarantee you won't get sick this winter even if you do all the things you're supposed to do, we can offer you some suggestions to reduce your risk:

  1. If you arrived in Southwest Florida without getting a flu shot, you might want to visit the Urgent Care Center of Southwest Florida to get one.  Some health insurance plans will cover the cost, including Medicare.
  2. Regular hand washing (or cleaning with alcohol-based sanitizer) stops germs and viruses in their tracts, so keep sanitizer handy in your car, on the plane, in the hotel room or condo, for use when washing isn't convenient.
  3. Colds and virus germs can live on your hands for hours.  Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible, especially when you're out in public places like grocery stores, malls, gas stations, or restaurants.
  4. Wipe frequently touched surfaces in your home, such as doorknobs, remote controls and computer keyboards, with disinfectant cleaner.
  5. To get the latest information about the prevalence of flu in our local community, go to www.flu.gov.

If, despite your best efforts, you do get the flu...antibiotics won’t help. However, anti-viral medication can be prescribed and these work best when given in the first couple of days of the flu illness. If you are a snowbird (or a local resident who can’t get in to your own doctor quickly) and think you are getting the flu, visit our Urgent Care Center to see if anti-viral medication will help you. Anti-virals are especially important for those who are very ill or those who are at high risk of serious complications from the flu, such as pregnant women, young children, adults over 65, people with chronic conditions, like asthma, diabetes and heart or lung diseases, and people with weakened immune systems through cancer or HIV. Unlike a simple cold, flu symptoms include significant fever, severe muscle aches, and extreme fatigue, as well as coughs and congestion that are typical with a cold. The Urgent Care Center of Southwest Florida has two convenient locations and our Centers in Estero and Cape Coral are open 7 days a week to serve you.

General rule: If you get sick, lay low until you’re better and stay home until you’re fever-free for at least 24 hours, without taking fever-reducing medicine.

Did You Know? Gas pump handles top the list of "filthy surfaces" according to a U.S. study by Kimberly-Clark Corporation.  The team of researchers swabbed hundreds of surfaces in six major cities around the country, to find the surfaces for the worst bacteria and viruses.  Closely behind gas pumps were parking meters and kiosks, crosswalk buttons, and vending machine buttons.   It is estimated that germs from people's hands can transfer seven times before leaving the skin.  Wash hands or use hand sanitizer often and especially after touching any of these surfaces. 


Pneumonia - The "Other" Respiratory Infection

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) define Pneumonia as an infection of the lungs that is usually caused by bacteria or viruses and can cause mild to severe illness in people at any age.  Did you know that globally, pneumonia causes more deaths than any other infectious disease?  So it's nothing to "sneeze" at!   And a person may be especially susceptible to pneumonia as a post-cold or post- flu complication, since almost any upper respiratory infection can potentially spread to the lungs, especially if one's immune system is compromised in some way.

Pneumonia can affect people of all ages and because it has many symptoms that are similar to flu symptoms --  fever, fatigue, cough, chills, etc.-- people often dismiss it as a possibility and don't take getting quick medical care or getting vaccinated for pneumonia very seriously.  But one shouldn't be so quick to minimize the threat of pneumonia. Young children, whose immune system is not fully developed or older adults whose immune system may be weakened by age or a chronic condition, are especially vulnerable.  Even people 19 to 64 years of age who smoke cigarettes or have asthma should be vaccinated for pneumonia.  Many people don't realize that pneumonia is contagious, but it is -- and vaccination can protect you and your loved ones.

Pneumonia vaccination is recommended for all children under the age of 5 and all adults 65 years or older. While flu shots are needed annually, protection from the pneumonia vaccine is usually good for 10 years in adults.   Out of pocket costs vary, depending on your insurance carrier, but pneumonia vaccines are covered by Medicare. 

Vaccines are readily available, so discuss with your doctor whether vaccination is right for you or your loved ones.  Pneumonia vaccines are also available at both of our Urgent Care Center locations. 

All of our patients are surveyed about their experience with us during their visit.  Here is a comment made by full-time resident about his experience after visiting our Cape Coral Center recently. 

"Your Center is very nice and comfortable with excellent service.   Very clean office.  Nurses are exceptionally comforting.  I would come again.  Thank you!"      

Ralph DeLora, retired policeman.    (Reprinted with permission)
 
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Urgent Care Center Estero
239-333-2273
10201 Arcos Ave. Suite 105
Estero, Fl 33928

Urgent Care Center Cape Coral
239-333-3333
1708 Cape Coral Parkway, West Suite 2
Cape Coral, Fl 33914