Battling sickness? Doctors want you to know when to seek a physician


Medical examination room at American Family Care in Huntsville: Photo/ WHNT News 19

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - As you battle this season's latest round of illness, it's important to know when you need more than over-the-counter medication.

"Our volume of patients increases at this time of year," explained Dr. Jatinder Sachdev, a physician at American Family Care on Whitesburg Drive in Huntsville. "In the last few weeks we have been seeing a lot of cases of flu, stomach bug, strep, and walking pneumonia."

She said while the weather cannot make anyone sick, it may start to have an effect on allergies this season.

"The pollen count is pretty bad right now. Things have started blooming a little ahead of time," said Dr. Sachdev.

But Dr. Sachdev says it's not always safe to assume your sniffles are simply allergies. The cold and flu have very similar symptoms, too. There comes a time when a doctor's diagnosis is required to help you get better.

"If you're not getting better in 2 or 3 days with over-the-counter medications or any kind of home remedies, come on in," she advised. "Don't go to work sick. It's better to be checked and diagnosed accurately."

Your local doctor's office will have the tests needed to see if you have the flu, a virus, or a bacterial infection.

She warned, your sickness can get worse if you make the wrong choice and let it be.

"If you leave it untreated for one or two weeks, sometimes it may start off as a viral, but it can turn into a bacterial also," she said. "It's usually a good idea to go in and get checked."

This time of year may seem too late for the flu, but Sachdev explained it's not uncommon to see so much of that illness late in the season.

"It's not too late [for the flu shot,] you can still get it," said Sachdev.

She left us with a list of ways you can stay healthy and also prevent the spread of illness:

  • Don't go in to work sick
  • Make sure you cover your mouth when you cough
  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid being around people who are sick
  • Practice general common sense
  • Follow your doctor's advice
  • Take your medicine

Sachdev said she loves being a physician.

"I know it sounds cliche, but it's the reward of helping someone and seeing them appreciate what you do, and making them feel better. And the best reward is when they come back and say, 'I want you to be my doctor,'" she explained. "That's the best thing a doctor can hear." She has been at AFC for 20 years.

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