WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — By this time of year, most have a box of Kleenex next to the bed or at our desk at work.

Cold weather typically means we all experience cold or flu-like symptoms at some point. It’s the most wonderful time of the year until it isn’t.

“Coughs, congestions, colds, some small fevers, we’ve also had a GI bug going on with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, that’s lasting about 24 hours,” United Regional FNP-C Amber Hill said.

Hill is experiencing her first flu season at the United Regional CarePlus Clinic. Before, she spent more than a decade at the emergency department.

There’s the flu and on top of that, other upper respiratory tract infections.

“We do ask, don’t go to the ER for these symptoms, wait 24 to 48 hours, try to hang out at home, treat symptomatically Tylenol, Motrin, over-the-counter cough syrups if they’re of age,” Hill said.

If you can, wait that 24 to 48 hours before seeking in-person care at the clinic too. One option is an e-visit where a doctor can decide if you should be tested.

“If for any reason we need those tests to be performed we can order them and have you come up to our drive up and have those tests performed,” Hill said. “A lot of times patients know those results before we do.”

Patients will get results to their MyChart account which alerts them when the results are in.

Some symptoms could just mean allergies, but there is a distinct difference.

“You have more of a cough, it’s more will present with headaches, shortness of breath, the itchy throat now becomes a sore throat, the congestion and drainage that you had before now becomes like a thick green mucus,” Hill said.

Before risking catching a virus in the first place, especially around Thanksgiving and other holidays, Hill and other health care providers encourage the flu shot.

Keep in mind, those younger than six months can’t get the vaccine.

“If you or your child aren’t feeling well, don’t take them to grandmas house just because you are putting both the child and grandparents at risk for those upper respiratory tract infections that for the common cold, us adults and children over the age of six months they can fight it off whereas the younger kids they can’t,” Hill said. “RSV, common cold in adults, makes these little guys sick often requiring hospitalization.”

A protective measure to keep you and your family safe during the holiday season.

Hill said hydration is key for your child if they are sick with the flu or another respiratory infection.

She adds you should only visit the emergency department for symptoms when they worsen to trouble breathing, wheezing, chest pains or dizziness.

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