5 Common Illnesses and How You Can Stop the Spread

With milder weather upon us, it’s hard not to think about what’s coming: fall season. And with fall comes cold and flu season.

Regardless of what the seasons may bring, it’s never a bad time to protect yourself and the people around you from germs and viruses. The McLaren Now+Clinic, located at participating Walgreens locations, provides convenient access to high quality, efficient, and cost-effective care for minor illnesses, injuries, and health screenings. Deborah Conlon, MSN, FNP-BC, vice president of retail clinic operations at McLaren Health Management Group, discusses more about the common illnesses and what you can do to avoid them.

  1. The Common Cold

A cold is another term used for an upper respiratory infection associated with symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, cough, and a sore throat.

“Cold symptoms can start one to three days after someone has been exposed to the virus,” said Conlon. “Symptoms and length can vary from person to person, but typically last for about a week.”

You can spread the virus a few days before symptoms arise and can be contagious for 48 to 72 hours. It’s important to avoid contact with those around you particularly those with higher risk (children and older adults) or those with autoimmune diseases. Other important tips you can do to prevent the spread include:

  • Washing your hands often and for at least 20 seconds with soap and running water.
  • Covering your coughs with a tissue or by coughing into the crook of your elbow.
  • Wearing a mask in public.
  1. The Flu (Influenza)

“The flu is very comparable to a cold and has a lot of the same symptoms, but can be more severe,” said Conlon. “Some differences to look out for would include a fever or feeling feverish with chills, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue.”   

Since the flu is usually more intense than a common cold, other serious complications can result, such as pneumonia or bacterial infections that may lead to hospitalizations.

Similar to a cold, the flu is spread through respiratory droplets, and physical contact, and it can live on common surfaces. Make sure to frequently clean the surfaces of your home, including door handles and kitchen and bath countertops, using a disinfectant cleaner. 

  1. Stomach Flu

Despite the name, the stomach flu isn’t a flu at all. It’s a condition called viral gastroenteritis, which is highly contagious and affects your stomach and intestines, causing you to have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The most common cases are caused by the norovirus or rotavirus.

This virus is shed through microscopic particles and can land on hands, food, water, and other surfaces.

“To avoid getting other people sick, wash your hands frequently, especially after going to the bathroom,” said Conlan. “Cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces you touch along with laundering your bedding and clothing can help stop the spread.”

Like with other illnesses, it’s best to isolate yourself, because you can be contagious for one to two days before and after your symptoms start.

  1. Bronchitis

Bronchitis is when your airways leading to your lungs become inflamed and filled with mucus. While bronchitis can be caused by other conditions that aren’t contagious, such as asthma or smoke inhalation, there are plenty of other contagious conditions that can lead to the development of bronchitis, including the coronavirus.  

“If your bronchitis is caused by a virus, you can be contagious for a few days to a week. If your bronchitis is caused by bacteria, you usually stop being contagious 24 hours after starting antibiotics,” said Conlon.  

Bronchitis can lead to other serious complications such as pneumonia. Seek care from a medical professional, or by visiting a McLaren Now+Clinic, if your symptoms worsen.  

  1. Strep Throat

Unlike the other illnesses described that can be caused by a virus, strep throat is a bacterial infection and needs medical attention for treatment.

“At the McLaren Now+Clinic, we can test you for strep throat, and if positive, provide antibiotics,” said Conlon. “You usually stop being contagious within 24 to 48 hours after starting the medication.”

Stop the spread by staying home for at least two days after starting your antibiotics.

While our immune systems work hard to protect us, we all get sick eventually. When we do, it’s important to take the necessary precautions that can help reduce and eliminate your symptoms. One way is to visit one of our McLaren Now+Clinics to be diagnosed and treated properly.

McLaren Now+Clinic has locations in Lansing and Okemos with evening and weekend hours available for your convenience. Walk in or click here to schedule an appointment in advance, and take advantage of prioritized prescriptions with Walgreens to get everything you need to feel better in one visit.