What's going around this month..... Sore throat and Stomach Flu
Welcome to the February 2012 issue of the Health Matters Newsletter. The Health Matters Newsletter is published on a monthly basis on the Health Center home page, and is linked to the weekly Campus Report. The purpose of this newsletter is to share information, regarding pertinent medical issues and health and wellness suggestions with the students, faculty, and staff here at SUNY Fredonia. This months's topic will be on Acute pharyngitis (sore throat) and Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu).
Acute Pharyngitis (Sore throat)
Pharyngitis (sore throat) is the swelling and inflammation of the pharynx or throat. Most sore throats are viral so antibiotics are not helpful unless a rapid strep test or throat culture demonstrates Group A Beta Hemolytic Strep. This should be treated with an antibiotic since there is a slight risk of developing Rheumatic fever (which could harm heart valves). Within 24 hours of antibiotic initiation, the patient is no longer contagious.
Note: a sore throat lasting longer than 7 days without nasal congestion may be Mononucleosis (Mono). In the case of this particular virus, blood tests are needed to make the diagnosis. Antibiotics do not help patients with Mononucleosis.
Signs and Symptoms
- Sore throat
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing
- Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck
- Enlarged tonsils
- Exudate (white spots on the tonsils and throat)
- In most instances, a sore throat is caused by a virus, and does not necessarily require an antibiotic for treatment. If an antibiotic is prescribed, you should see some improvement in 24 hours. You must complete the entire course of antibiotics in order to treat the infection adequately. DO NOT share antibiotics with other people or save them for later.
- Eat well, (small frequent meals) with adequate fluid intake
- Get plenty of rest
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and wash your hands often with soap and water in order to prevent spreading germs to others.
- It is important to not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, water bottles or toothbrushes with others in order to prevent spreading germs to others.
- Lozenges or cough drops may soothe a sore or dry throat.
- Gargle with warm salt water to soothe a sore or dry throat.
- Drink warm liquids (tea or broth) or cool liquids to sooth a sore or dry throat.
- Take pain relievers for discomfort such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
- Use decongestants such as Sudafed or Mucinex D or a short term decongestant spray (no more then 72 hours) to relieve nasal congestion and a runny nose
- Don’t smoke
- If symptoms continue to worsen, a fever greater than 101 develops, or no improvement is seen, you should be evaluated by a health care provider
Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)
Gastroenteritis is a nonspecific term given to any inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines. This inflammation can be from viruses, contaminated food, or adverse effects of medication. Travel outside of the USA may expose a person to unfamiliar bacteria in water and on fresh produce.
Signs and Symptoms – In general the symptoms begin 1-2 days following infection with a virus and may last for 1 – 10 days depending on which virus causes the illness.
- Abdominal cramping (“stomach ache”)
- Watery diarrhea
Treatment for Gastroenteritis
Usually the symptoms will resolve as soon as the body can rid itself of the irritant.
- Get plenty of rest
- Increase fluid intake to replace fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea
For excessive vomiting:
- Don’t eat for 2 – 3 hours to give your stomach a rest.
- Then start with sips of water and ice chips very slowly every 15 – 30 minutes.
- When this is tolerated, start flat carbonated beverages, weak tea, clear broth, jello, kool aid and gatoraide. Then progress as tolerated with the addition of other foods as described below.
- Usually a temporary change in diet is recommended to allow the lining of the intestinal tract to repair itself.
- Start with the above mentioned fluid replacement immediately.
- In progressive stages, the following may be added: crackers, dry toast, toast with jelly, rice, mashed potatoes without butter or milk.
- If these are tolerated, the diet on the following day may include a banana, soft boiled egg, clear soup, small amount of boiled chicken, and applesauce.
- Avoid all foods with milk products, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, greasy or spicy foods until you are feeling better.
- It is important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water to prevent the spread of this infection to others.
You should be seen in the Health Center if:
- Temperature over 101
- Unable to keep down any liquids
- Severe stomach or abdominal pain
- Green, reddish or black diarrhea
- Red or coffee ground looking vomit
- If symptoms are mild yet prolonged in duration for more the three days
- Muscle weakness, paralysis, numbness