By: Lorrie Jackson | Category: Other | Issue: December 2006
Dr. Tucker with the new toxicology testing device.
For most people, the holidays offer an opportunity to reconnect with family members, some of whom they may not have seen for months or even years. All that togetherness, however, can come with a price. Even the most welcome visitors can bring unwelcome guests along, in the form of cold and flu viruses.
Dr. Tucker of Claremore Physicians Immediate Care reports that the clinic sees a lot of colds, flu bugs and respiratory infections around the holidays and he offers some advice for avoiding these party crashers. “Wash your hands frequently and carry hand sanitizer, especially when you’re out shopping,” says Dr. Tucker. “Be wary of close contact, and if someone is sick at home, do not share eating utensils.”
Sometimes, even when you take thorough precautions, you can still contract cold and flu viruses. Symptoms of the common cold or Rhinovirus include runny nose, sneezing, coughs and body aches. Influenza can be more serious, producing fever, chills, a more severe cough and even vomiting. No real treatment exists for either of these ailments, except to let them run their course. Dr. Tucker does report however that if influenza is suspected and diagnosed early enough, drugs like Tamiflu and Symmetrel may be administered and could reduce the symptoms and the course of the virus by one to two days.
Although the flu itself is self-limited in young healthy people, it can often lead to secondary infections which could pose grave danger. How do you know you are not recovering properly from the flu? Dr. Tucker says to watch for these red flags: excessive length and severity of the usual symptoms, shortness of breath and the coughing up of colored mucous. These could be signs of a more serious infection such as pneumonia. “There are still people who die from flu complications,” Dr. Tucker reminds us. “Ten to 20 percent of Americans get the flu every year and 20,000 die from complications. The very old and very young or those with compromised immune systems should be especially careful.”
Completely avoiding the flu is not possible, but the flu shot is still available through January; and because it takes a couple of weeks to build up immunity, those who want to protect themselves against holiday risk should get the shot as soon as possible. “Contrary to rumors, the flu shot will not give you the flu,” says Dr. Tucker. “And even with the shot, there is a rare chance you may still contract the virus, but your symptoms won’t be as severe as those of a non-immunized person.”
Airborne germs are not the only concern during the holiday. Food borne illnesses are also prevalent, usually brought on because of improper food preparation and storage. The magic numbers for food storage, according to Dr. Tucker are below 40 degrees or above 140 degrees. “After you take a turkey out of the oven, you have about two hours before you need to get it back to one of those temperatures.” Other things to be especially careful with are dishes prepared with mayonnaise and wood cutting blocks, which can harbor bacteria in the grooves that have been knifed in over time. Salmonella is a commonly spread food borne illness. Symptoms include stomach cramps, vomiting and severe diarrhea. “Usually food borne ilnesses are self-limited as well, requiring fluid replacement and nausea control, but in some forms other medications may be required,” says Dr. Tucker. “If you cannot control vomiting or hydrate yourself, you may need anti-nausea medications or even intravenous fluids in extreme cases.”
These common ailments are only a few of the many reasons to keep the number of Claremore Physicians Immediate Care handy. Other services include minor emergency care, urgent visits, occupational medicine injuries, school and sports physicals and much more. In addition to offering basic health and emergency care needs, Claremore Physicians Immediate Care has recently formed a partnership with Knox Labs of Tulsa, which is one of the bigger toxicology testing facilities. “We will be a regional collection site and will be able to run in-house drug testing for local businesses,” Dr. Tucker notes. “It is nice in that we can run one hundred tests an hour with same day results as long as the specimens are collected within a certain time frame.”
Dr. Tucker and the staff of Claremore Physicians Immediate Care will be entering their sixth month of operation this holiday season. Especially attractive are their hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. “We are here for your urgent and after hours needs,” says Dr. Tucker. “We want you to know we are here to help your entire family when you need us.”