What are the most common reasons to visit a family practice physician during the winter months? Now that it's cold and icy, you're spending more time inside, and viral infections such as the flu and the cold are on the rise, you might need a doctor more often than you did in the summer or fall. Take a look at the top winter-time injuries and illnesses that send adults to the PCP.
Slip and Falls
Icy roads aren't just dangerous for drivers. A slick street or slushy sidewalk can increase your risk of slipping and falling. While a major injury requires treatment in a hospital emergency room, your PCP can evaluate a twisted ankle or other similar issues. If your physician feels that you may have a break or require a specialized type of treatment, they can refer you to another doctor.
Respiratory Viral Infections
The cold, the flu, Covid-19, and RSV are viral infections that are common in the colder months of the year. Instead of well-ventilated outdoor spaces, the winter temperatures might force you into crowded indoor areas. This increases your chances of exposure to a respiratory virus. These infections spread when sick people cough, sneeze, speak loudly/shout/sing, or touch a surface that you will touch.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu season usually peaks between December and February. While you are more likely to get the flu (or other respiratory viruses) in the middle of the winter, it is still possible to get sick before December starts or after February.
If you have a sore throat, cough, nasal congestion, runny nose, muscle aches, fever, fatigue, or a combination of these symptoms, contact your family practice doctor. The PCP can examine you, take a health history, and evaluate the symptoms. You may need a nasal swab or another test before the doctor can diagnose the flu or Covid. Even though there is no cure for these types of respiratory infections, antivirals and supportive treatments can reduce the severity of your illness.
Sunburn isn't a problem for most people during the winter months. But other types of burns can happen. The fireplace in your home, an outdoor fire feature, hot tea, cocoa, or other beverages, and log-burning stoves can cause serious burns on your hands or on other parts of your body.
Like slip and fall injuries, severe burns require emergency treatment. Your doctor can evaluate minor burns that cause redness and discomfort. Even though these burns may not seem like they need your PCP's attention, it's advisable to speak to a medical provider. Your doctor may need to prescribe medication or may recommend pain and scar relief treatments that you haven't thought of.
Contact a family practice physician near you to learn more.
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