Tag Archives: sickness

Could It Be ‘Walking Pneumonia’?

Walking pneumonia (also called atypical pneumonia) is a sub-type of pneumonia, a contagious condition marked by pus and inflammation that clog up the airways making it difficult to breathe. Pneumonia can be life-threatening (especially for the immunocompromised), but walking pneumonia is rarely serious and doesn’t usually require hospitalization. It may, however, require antibiotics or other medication to clear up.

What Causes Walking Pneumonia?

Walking pneumonia can be caused by a bacterial, fungal or viral lung infection or inhaled irritants, but is most often caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It is a contagious condition, often passed through a contaminated person’s sneezes or coughs in a crowded place like a school or hospital. Symptoms don’t usually start surfacing until many days after exposure (it can take up to a month).

What are the Symptoms of Walking Pneumonia?

Many people make the mistake of ignoring a cold that’s lingered on too long, when really, it may not be a cold at all. Walking pneumonia can mimic many symptoms of a cold. If it is left untreated or doesn’t clear on its own, however, it could potentially cause complications. Some of the common symptoms of walking pneumonia include:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Excess mucus or sputum
  3. Chest pain upon inhalation
  4. Labored breathing or wheezing
  5. A harsh cough that flares up and calms down again (but won’t seem to go away)
  6. Fatigue
  7. Aches and pains
  8. Fever or chills
  9. Weakness or faintness
  10. Headache
  11. Skin symptoms such as a rash
  12. Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss

When to See the Doc?

Even though walking pneumonia is usually mild enough that a person can go about their daily business, if it starts hanging around too long you may need antibiotics (only if it is bacterial by nature) or other prescribed medicine to help clear it up. A doctor may also need to do some tests to check your lungs for any residual problems from the condition. So, if you’ve been experiencing the above symptoms or have a “cold” that has lasted longer than 10 days, it is time to get it checked out. Our board-certified physicians are standing by 24/7/365 to help with health inquiries like this, so feel free to check us out if in doubt!





A Look at Acute Bronchitis

Bronchitis is a common respiratory condition which can cause temporary or chronic illness. Most people will develop acute bronchitis at some point in their lives. Let’s look at the in’s and outs of bronchitis:

What is Bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a condition marked by inflammation of the lining of the airways (bronchial tubes). Bronchitis triggers the production of more mucus in the airways which leads to a productive cough. It is usually acute (comes on quickly and intensely but only lasts for a short period of time), but can also be a chronic condition.

What Causes it?

Acute bronchitis is most often viral and develops when germs from a cold are left behind and make their way past the cilia (the hair-like structures on the mucus membrane that help filter out harmful particles) and down into your lungs. Few cases of acute bronchitis are bacterial by nature. Antibiotics will only help those few cases, taking antibiotics will not help with viral bronchitis and may contribute to antimicrobial resistance.

What are the symptoms of bronchitis?

  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in chest
  • A dry or productive cough
  • Excess mucus production
  • Feeling of general malaise
  • Mild chills or fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Treatment for Bronchitis

Treatment for bronchitis depends on your doctor’s evaluation of the nature of your bronchitis. Someone who gets bronchitis frequently, has moderate trouble breathing or has a comorbid lung condition may be prescribed corticosteroids like prednisone to help clear the inflammation in their lungs more quickly. If a doctor suspects your bronchitis is bacterial by nature, he or she may prescribe antibiotics. A doctor may also prescribe a temporary puffer. Some cases of bronchitis resolve themselves.

Things You Can Do to Help Your Bronchitis Pass

  • Drink plenty of fluids to help thin out the mucus and make it easier to pass through the system
  • Give your body plenty of rest
  • Inhale steam (sometimes with essential oils like peppermint) to help get the mucus off your chest
  • Take OTC medications like NSAIDS to help control any fever that may be present (never give children Aspirin)

When to Call the Doc

If you’ve recently had a cold and it seems to have migrated to your lungs, you should check with a doctor (or one of ours) as you may have bronchitis. Or if you have a nagging cough and are producing mucus, it may be time to check in as well. Anything that seems to extend beyond the normal course of a cold for you is worth checking out!

Thanks for visiting DocChat! Check back for our post on chronic and asthmatic bronchitis next!



Could it Be Bacterial Meningitis?

There are several different types of meningitis, but we wanted to zero in on the bacterial type in this post as it has been dangerously mistaken for colds, flus and even hangovers, resulting in several tragedies. Bacterial meningitis can have a mere few initial symptoms or present like other conditions so it is often overlooked until significant damage is done. It can become life-threatening in a matter of hours if drastic action isn’t taken, or cause life-long disabilities for survivors. It is important to know the common symptoms so you can catch meningitis before it ends in tragedy.

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges (the protective lining covering the brain and spinal cord). The bacterial variety is caused by infectious microbes like B. Streptococcus or Streptococcus pneumoniae.

How Many People are Affected?

Bacterial meningitis statistics differ from year to year, often affecting over 4000 Americans and causing somewhere in the vein of 500 deaths.

A Camouflaged Condition

Tragically, earlier this year a 21-year-old who mistook fast-moving bacterial meningitis for a hangover died in hospital within hours of the onset of her symptoms. This recent, unfortunate case has garnered much awareness for the seriousness of the condition. Young people should be especially aware of the symptoms of meningitis as it can spread quickly through dorms and be mistaken for other ailments.

Symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis

Symptoms differ from person to person, but common symptoms of bacterial meningitis to watch out for include:

  • Stiff neck (this one is important to note as it is perhaps the most distinguishing symptom of meningitis
  • General malaise
  • General pains (often legs)
  • Pale, splotchy skin
  • Confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion or fussiness
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Fever
  • Rapid breathing or heartrate
  • Rash

Treatment for Meningitis

If you have any of the symptoms above and believe you could have been in contact with someone infected with meningitis, seek medical help immediately to be screened. When it comes to meningitis, it is better to be safe than sorry! Meningitis is a medical emergency and requires immediate care. Once at the hospital, treatment usually consists of an intravenous combination of corticosteroids and strong antibiotics. The steroids can help limit damage and inflammation of the brain.

Keep an eye out for some meningitis prevention tips in the future! Thanks for visiting DocChat!




Ear Infections in Children

Ear infections are a prevalent problem, mainly among younger children resulting in millions of visits to the doctor annually. Most children will experience at least one ear infection during childhood. Ear infections can occur in the ear canal, in the middle ear, or deep behind the eardrum, and can be quite painful.

What is an ear infection?

An ear infection occurs when mucus or fluid becomes trapped in the ear canal, often due to, or occurring with a swollen Eustachian tube. This fluid becomes infected by harmful bacterial or viral germs that are trapped in with the fluid.

Common Symptoms to Watch Out For

Run-of-the-mill ear infection symptoms include:

  • Earache (sometimes intense pain)
  • Ear discomfort and itching
  • Problems hearing
  • Fever
  • Vomiting or upset stomach
  • Fluid leakage from the ear
  • Fussiness in babies or irritability in children

What Causes an Ear Infection?

Some of the things that can cause ear canal swelling and fluid blockages that lead to an infection include:

  • Swimming (a type of ear infection known as swimmer’s ear is very painful and often reoccurs)
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Colds, flus or allergies
  • Swollen or infected adenoids

Treatment for Ear Infections

Most ear infections are viral by nature, therefor antibiotics will not help the infection. If your doctor determines this is the case, they will suggest treatments to help manage the symptoms of the infection (such as NSAIDs for the pain) and likely instruct you to keep a close eye on the child and bring him or her back if symptoms don’t improve within a week or so. If the doctor suspects the infection is bacterial, they will prescribe a course of antibiotics. Often treatment is case dependant, and may begin with home remedies, managing medications and a watchful eye.

Potential Complications

Complications are rare in healthy children, however, it is possible for the mucus not to properly clear, leading to a condition known as ‘glue ear’, or for your child to have some hearing problems for a week or two after the infection is treated. Another potential complication is a perforated eardrum. These issues often resolve themselves within a few weeks. A more serious potential complication of ear infections occurs when the ear infection is left unmonitored and spreads to nearby places such as the brain or other nearby nerves or tissues. This can be life threatening, so if your child appears to get much sicker when they should be getting better, continues to have a fever or develops any new questionable symptoms, be sure to seek treatment for him or her immediately.

Can You Prevent Ear Infections?

Most of the time, yes, ear infections can be prevented by taking a few key precautions. Try not to allow your small child to put objects in their mouth or share toys. Keep them away from contagious children if possible. Preventing babies from drinking while lying down will ensure liquid doesn’t enter the ear canal where bacteria can grow. Studies show that children who use pacifiers or are exposed to second-hand smoke tend to get ear infections more frequently, so try to limit pacifier use and never let your children be around second-hand smoke. Lastly, keep your child up-to-date on their immunizations as to prevent undue illness that could lead to infections.

Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you suspect your child may have an ear infection, feel free to sign up today for a video conference with our emergency experienced, board certified doctors.


Does Changing Weather Cause Sickness?



We’ve all heard the old adage that changing weather brings on sickness, but is there truth to this age-old assertion? For some time, the science community said ‘no’, but recent thinking is leaning more towards ‘kind-of’. While there are medical professionals who maintain the rise in colds and infections during seasonal transitions is purely coincidental, there seem to be more facts supporting the idea that temperature changes can contribute to illness, especially for particular demographics. The reasoning behind this new thinking isn’t straightforward, there are many factors that work in accordance to cause sickness to rise as the seasons blend.

Coinciding Factors

Some people think they are experiencing a cold that just won’t leave, or as people dubbed it years ago “The spring flu” but they are most likely experiencing allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever), allergies brought on by airborne particles such as pollen from plants and trees that start budding in the spring. The Weather Channel claims another factor that makes it appear as though the changing weather causes sickness is that the structure of cold viruses allows them to breed and spread easily in the cold dry air of the beginning of spring. So it may still be viruses, not the weather itself, that causes cold-like symptoms in so many people around this time of year.

Weather Can Confuse Immune Systems

While weather in itself may not cause sickness, fluctuating mercury levels certainly play a role in how the body functions. Our bodies grow accustomed to whatever the current season and temperature is, so when that changes (sometimes drastically) as winter turns into spring our bodies are forced to re-adapt to the new weather and changes in atmospheric pressure. This can cause confusion within the immune system. It has a distracting effect, so while our front line of bodily defence is busy trying to reconfigure based on weather changes, pre-existing conditions may flare up or new germs may set in as our defenses glitch-out.

Healthy Versus Vulnerable

As with many contagious illnesses, people who fall into the immunocompromised category are often the most affected demographic when winter recedes and spring shows its face. Dr Adham Alameddin, medical director of Synergy Integrated Medical Clinic in Dubai says “The community is divided into two groups – those who are vulnerable to illness and those who are healthy. For the healthy sector, as long as they continue to eat a balanced diet, take a lot of exercise and drink plenty of fluids, their body will be able to cope with the dramatic onset of heat. For those who fall into the vulnerable category – young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those suffering from chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or cancer – the risk of feeling unwell is much higher.”

How to Prevent the Season-Based Sickies

If you fall ill every spring and suspect allergies may be at play, ask your doctor for an allergy test to see if hay fever may indeed be the culprit. Or, if you are a known hay fever sufferer or a severe asthmatic, be sure to contact your doctor or allergist to get a medication plan in place or adjust your current one if necessary, and to find out how to avoid getting hit too hard by your allergies when pollen starts up. If you are immunocompromised and contract a cold or illness, be sure to contact your doctor or one of our qualified physicians at DocChatto make sure you won’t get in over your head trying to fight off the bug. For the general non-allergenic public, be sure to get plenty of rest and quit burning the candle at both ends which will help keep your immune system strong. You should also eat well and exercise regularly, and check in with your body intermittently to make sure you are still in tip top shape.



Five Types of Fever

A fever signifies an abnormal, temporary rise in body temperature due to a medical condition. The rise can be continuous or may cycle over time. The onset of fever can occur due to a myriad of different medical conditions. Normally the human body has a temperature in the range of 37.5-38.3°C (99.5-100.9°F). If an illness occurs, body temperature rises above normal values and might go to extremes of 41-42°C (105.8-107.6°F).

Malarial Fever
Malaria is a disease caused by a type of parasite categorized as Plasmodium. It is a serious disease but preventable and completely curable.

● Fever
● Chills
● Flu-like symptoms
● Vomiting

Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is a serious viral infection which is spread by a certain type of mosquito. It is common in sub-Saharan parts of Africa. Human-to-human transmission does not occur. About 15% of sufferers will experience the advanced stages of Yellow Fever. Mortality rate in the advanced stage is 50%. Preventive vaccinations are available for protection against this disease.

● Fever
● Headache
● Vomiting and/or nausea
● General muscle pain (backaches)
Advanced Stage
● Jaundice
● Kidney failure
● Bleeding from the eyes, mouth or nose
● Bloody vomit or stools

Typhoid Fever
Typhoid is a bacterial infection that can turn into a life-threatening illness if not properly treated. It is caused by a bacterium known as Salmonella typhi. The reaction of the body to this bacterial infiltration is a high fever and other symptoms. The prescribed treatment for typhoid is antibiotics.

● High fever- 103-104°F (39-40°C)
● Weakness
● Stomach pains
● Headache
● Loss of appetite
● Flat, spotty rash

Dengue Fever
Dengue fever is a serious viral infection that is spread by mosquitoes (specifically by a species named Aedes aegypti). It can turn deadly if complications arise such as dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.

● High temperature within one week of getting infected
● Joint and muscle pain
● Loss in appetite
● Abdominal pain
● Nausea and vomiting
● Severe headache
Advanced Stages
● Purple bruises
● Bleeding gums and/or nose
● Liver issues
● Heart problems
● Severe bleeding
● Extremely low blood pressure
● Coma
● Death

Rheumatic Fever
Rheumatic fever is anti-inflammatory disease. It usually occurs if streptococcus bacterial infections (such as strep throat or scarlet fever) are not adequately treated. Children of ages 5-15 years are most vulnerable to this disease.

● Abdominal pain
● Fever
● Muscle weakness
● Ring-like or thin snake shaped skin rash
● Nosebleeds
● Heart problems – characterized by shortness of breath and chest discomfort
● Joint issues – pain, swelling, redness or warmth