Is it a Cold or Allergies? Here’s How to Tell

Is it a Cold or Allergies? Here’s How to Tell

This time of year, sniffles are practically a way of life. Cold temperatures and energy-draining schedules can get the best of us, and we may end up feeling under the weather. But how do you tell if it’s a cold or allergies? Find out below.

Learn to distinguish between symptoms of allergies and those of a cold.

What are allergies?

Allergies are an overreaction in the immune system to particles that are otherwise harmless. For some people, their bodies react to mold spores, dust mites, or pet dander as if they are pathogens. Symptoms like itchy eyes, a runny nose, congestion, and sneezing are typical; sometimes, sufferers will experience headaches and sinus pressure, too. Indoor allergies are common this time of year because, of course, people typically spend more time indoors.

Do these symptoms sound familiar? They should. Many of them are the same ones you’d experience with a cold. So, how do you tell the difference? Here are a few hints:

Additional symptoms

Colds and viruses can have symptoms that don’t match up with allergies. Aches and fevers, for example, typically indicate a viral infection.

Persistence

Do you feel terrible at first but then notice a gradual reduction in symptoms? It’s probably a cold. On the other hand, does the degree of your symptoms tend to stay the same no matter how many days have passed? Sounds like it could be allergies!

Problems with Diagnosis

This time of year, doctors may be more likely to diagnose cold or flu because of the prevalence of both throughout the winter season. Provide your doctor with details about your symptoms and how long they’ve lasted for a clear diagnosis. Additionally, you can visit any one of our urgent cares for a quality review of your symptoms or a second opinion.

If You Suspect Indoor Allergies

Fortunately, you can mitigate indoor allergy symptoms through limiting your exposure to potential allergens and keeping your house tidy. Vacuuming frequently, washing your bedding in hot water, and removing any visible mildew or mold are easy ways to tamp down symptoms, says the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. You also can invest in an air filter or try a simple saline spray.

When to Visit a Doctor

Our urgent care clinics can provide you with a treatment plan for allergies. From prescription nasal sprays to allergy testing, we are here to help.

Learn the Key Symptoms of Sinusitis

Learn the Key Symptoms of Sinusitis

As we mentioned before, symptoms of colds, allergies, and the flu can overlap, making it hard to know what’s actually ailing you. Similarly, many people can let a suspected cold drag on when in fact, they could be suffering from sinusitis.

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses usually caused by a viral infection – for example, a cold might cause irritation of the sinuses. However, if your symptoms last longer than 10 days, your cold may have developed into a bacterial infection, also known as acute rhinosinusitis.

Pain or tenderness around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead could indicate a sinus infection. (Photo courtesy University of Michigan Health Systems)

Persistent or chronic sinus infections may require the use of antibiotics; your first line of defense is to stay well hydrated to help thin mucus. Read about the most common symptoms of sinusitis below.

Five Symptoms of Sinusitis

  1. Having postnasal drip. The feeling that mucus is running down the back of your nose or accumulating in your throat is known as postnasal drip. This typically leads to a sore or scratchy throat or the sensation that there is a lump in the throat.
  2. Green or yellow mucus. This is a gross one – but an important one, too! Keep an eye on the color of mucus when you blow your nose. When you have a cold, mucus is typically thin and clear. If you notice that the mucus begins to thicken and develop a yellow or green color, this could be a sign that a bacterial sinus infection is forming.
  3. Feeling stuffy or congested. Sometimes, mucus from a sinus infection stays high up within the sinuses. You may not be able to blow your nose, but you will notice feeling stuffed up and congested. You also may notice a sensation of pressure, which can lead to…
  4. Headaches. Sinus pressure can cause sinus headaches, throbbing aches typically on the sides of the nose and near the eye sockets. People suffering from sinusitis may also notice teeth pain. The headaches and pain may feel more intense when you bend over or lie down.
  5. Running a fever. Your body is working hard to fight a sinus infection, so a fever may accompany your other symptoms.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, visit your nearest MHM Urgent Care for quality medical attention.

Check Out Our List of the Best Health Apps

Check Out Our List of the Best Health Apps

Smartphones allow us access to incredible apps at the touch of the button, and yet we often find ourselves gravitating toward Candy Crush or Facebook. There’s no shame in loving social media and entertainment apps, but we’d like to suggest a few the best health apps.

Whether you’re looking for a quick workout, a tool for food allergies, or simply a way to clear your mind after a stressful day, these apps are just a download away.

Health-related smartphone apps can tell you your heart rate, keep track of food allergies, and more. (Photo courtesy Intel Free Press on Flickr)

The app: 7 Minute Workout by Wahoo Fitness

The cost: Free

What it does: Get an intense cardio workout in under seven minutes with this timed app. A series of basic callisthenic exercises like pushups, jumping jacks, and triceps dips to get your heart rate going and burn calories quickly. Rests in between each exercise utilize interval training and allow your body to recover.

The app: Allergy Food Translator by Gregg Greenberg

The cost: $2.99

What it does: People who suffer from food allergies know not to eat foods with their allergic triggers – but what if they’re traveling in another country? This app lets you create profiles for you and your entire family that lists foods you’re sensitive to. The app translates those allergies along with a warning message so you can show it to your hosts, a waiter, hotel concierge, or anyone else you might encounter while you’re abroad or visiting an authentic foreign restaurant.

The app: Instant Heart Rate by Azumio

The cost: Free

What it does: Measure your heart rate wherever you are with this accurate app. When you place your finger gently on the camera lens of your phone, the app will detect your heart rate in fewer than ten seconds.

The app: Headspace

The cost: Free

What it does: This free meditation app allows users to practice simple mindfulness techniques. It’s also available on desktops so you can take a moment of calm at your desk. Headspace’s “Take 10” program teaches you the basics of meditations, or you can choose specific areas to focus on like health, performance, or relationships.

MHM currently doesn’t offer an app, but our site is available on mobile devices, and you can also check in online at select locations!

Mardi Gras Checklist: What You Need to Stay Safe and Comfortable

Mardi Gras Checklist: What You Need to Stay Safe and Comfortable

Check out our list of Mardi Gras necessities, aimed at keeping you safe and comfortable during extended periods outdoors. See you at the parades!

Happy Mardi Gras! (Photo courtesy Loren Javier on Flickr)

Layers of clothing.

The weather is fickle this time of year. Some years, we have seen downright balmy temperatures for Mardi Gras, while other years (especially those in recent memory) have been chilly and rainy. Be sure to check the hourly forecast before you head out for the day, and plan to dress in layers so that you can adjust to changes in temperature throughout the day. Accessories like rain ponchos, umbrellas, scarves, gloves, and hats can also help you stay dry and warm.

A bag.

Carry a tote or backpack with you to the parades. This allows you to keep your hands free if you need them (for catching beads or for navigating through a crowd.) It also allows you the extra room you need to bring…

Snacks.

Healthy snacks that combat hunger with protein and fiber are ideal for Mardi Gras outings. Almonds, apples, beef jerky, and homemade energy bites are all good choices — they’re portable and don’t require refrigeration.

Water.

Staying hydrated is important throughout the year, but during Mardi Gras, you’ll want to drink plenty of water, especially if you are also consuming alcoholic beverages. Plan to alternate between water an alcohol, and be sure to set reasonable drinking limits.

Cab fare.

Don’t carry too much cash with you during Mardi Gras, but plan to have enough for cab fare if you need it. Remember — it will probably take extra time to get a taxi during busy parades, so plan accordingly.

A fully charged cellphone.

You may also want to add local cab companies into your contacts, in addition to other numbers you may need — like your nearest MHM location! Never attend events alone, but in case you get separated, be sure to have the contact information readily available for those you came with so you can get back in touch.

All MHM locations are open regular business hours, unless otherwise noted.

  • Wed, Feb 11th — Uptown closes at 5PM
  • Thurs, Feb 12th — Uptown closes at 4PM
  • Fri, Feb 13th — Metairie closes at 8PM, Uptown closes at 5PM
  • Sat, Feb 14th — Mid-city is CLOSED
  • Sun, Feb 15th — Uptown is CLOSED
  • Mon, Feb 16th — Uptown closes at 5PM
  • Tues, Feb 17th — Open 3PM-8PM: Kenner, Thibodaux, Lakeview, Luling, Mandeville **All other centers are CLOSED

National Handwashing Awareness Week! Clean Hands Save Lives

National Handwashing Awareness Week! Clean Hands Save Lives

This week is National Handwashing Awareness Week (Dec 7-13). With widespread flu impacting Louisiana, it is especially important to follow proper handwashing techniques in order to limit the spread of the virus.

When to Wash

You know to wash your hands before eating or after using the bathroom, but there are plenty of other times during the day when washing up is key:

  • After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After touching an animal
  • After touching the garbage
  • Before, during, and after preparing food

How to Wash

Be sure to always use soap – rather than just water alone – when washing hands. Lathering your hands with soap and water will lift soil and germs from the skin and it encourages a more thorough scrub than water alone. It is important to scrub for about 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice) so you can cleanse all surfaces, including your wrists, backs of hands, under your fingernails, and between your fingers. To finish up, rinse your hands well under running water, and dry using a clean towel.

The Back-Up Plan

Soap and water are the gold standard for handwashing, but alcohol-based sanitizers can also work to reduce the number of germs on your hands. Look for a formula that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, and be sure to use enough to adequately sanitize. If your hands are heavily soiled or greasy, hand sanitizer may not be as effective, and you should aim to wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible.

If you do get sick, MHM Urgent Care is here to help. Find the location nearest you for quality health care when you need it most.

How to Clean Effectively During Cold and Flu Season

How to Clean Effectively During Cold and Flu Season

We think of our home as a safe haven, but even if you’re healthy, you could be bringing outside germs into your home. The best line of defense? Taking extra care to clean thoroughly during cold and flu season.

Television remote controls are a frequently handled “hot spot” that should be cleaned during cold and flu season. (Photo courtesy Rolf van Mells on Flickr)

Pay Attention to “Hot Spots”

Think about the items you touch multiple times per day – faucets, door knobs, toilet handles, and light switches, for example. Use a spray disinfectant such as Lysol on these surfaces, and wipe down using a cloth or paper towels. Another hot spot you might not think about? Television remote controls and electronics. Take care to wipe between buttons on remotes and keyboards, and aim to sanitize your phone daily.

Sanitize Sheets, Outerwear, and Gloves

Wash your sheets and pillow cases in hot water once per week. You’ll also want to sanitize outerwear like jackets and gloves, especially if it’s visibly soiled. Cotton gloves can be tossed into the wash, but even more delicate fabrics like wool can be hand-washed in warm, soapy water.

Clean Your Cleaning Products

Keeping a space clean is impossible when you’re using dirty supplies. Disposable cleaning products like paper towels and Swiffer mops and dusters ensure a clean slate every time. If you’re interested in environmentally friendly, reusable products, make sure to sanitize them in between uses: wash dish towels, clean mop heads in hot, soapy water, and soak a dirty sponge in a solution of bleach and water for five minutes.

As always, we think prevention is the best option for colds and flus. Practice good hand-washing habits to help mitigate the spread of viruses, and stay active, which can boost immune function.

The First Aid Kit Items Every Home Needs

The First Aid Kit Items Every Home Needs

From kitchen mishaps like cuts and minor burns to outdoor hazards like scraped knees and bug bites, there are plenty of opportunities for injuries at home. We’re always here for you should you need us (take a look at our service lines and locations), but we’d like to recommend a few items to have at home in case of accidents that require basic medical attention.

What’s in your home first aid kit? Take a look at our guide to creating a suitable at-home first aid kit.

What’s in your home first aid kit? Take a look at our guide to creating a suitable at-home kit for your family.

Here are the first aid kit items the Red Cross recommends for a family of four:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
    Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • First aid instruction booklet

Of course, having the items isn’t very helpful if you’re unsure of how to use them. Hydrocortisone, for example, is a relief for itchy bug bites, and triangle bandages are used for an arm sling. That’s why we recommend having a first aid instruction manual on hand or access to an online guide such as this one from WebMD.

You also can purchase pre-made first aid kits from the Red Cross store. And remember, if you need medical care, visit your nearest MHM center.