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Preventive Medicine
Do You Know the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu?
Jan 16, 2019 By Emory Healthcare

We’re in the midst of a bad flu season that may last longer than most. But do you know the difference between a cold and the flu? Both are respiratory illnesses that have similar symptoms. Although there is no distinct way to differentiate one from the other, it is important to know the type of symptoms and severity each one can cause. Additionally, special tests can be done within the first few days to determine the type of illness.

Common Cold

  • Symptoms are gradual
  • Slight aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Milder conditions compared to the flu

Flu (Influenza)

  • Symptoms are abrupt
  • Fever/feeling feverish (chills)
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches and fatigue (tiredness)
  • Chest discomfort
  • Some may have diarrhea and vomiting (more common in children)
Just like how the common cold and [...]

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Preventive Medicine
When to Get a Flu Shot
Dec 3, 2018 By Nick E. Colovos, MD, MBA, FACEP, FAAEM

Get the flu shotIt may be your best chance at preventing the flu—but do you know the best time to get your flu shot? If you get it too soon, you might not be as well protected. But since it typically takes your body 2 weeks from the time you get the shot to develop immunity, you don’t want to wait too late. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season usually runs from November through the end of April, so it’s best to get the flu shot as early as possible prior to the season. October is a recommended time frame.

Who Needs a Flu Shot?

Everyone’s at risk of being infected with the influenza virus and can spread it to others. That’s why the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against it every year, even if you’ve never had the flu. If you have a less-developed or compromised immune system, a yearly vaccination is [...]

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Preventive Medicine
Lifestyle Is the Best Medicine—A Call to Action
Sep 7, 2018 By Sharon H. Bergquist, MD

Women at the farmer's marketKnowing your numbers—blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and weight—is important. These risk factors and markers, however, only partially tell your story. They measure your risk of disease rather than indicate your well-being. Well-being is more than the absence of disease. It is living life with joy, energy, fulfillment and health. Sadly, we are living at a time when there is a health care paradox: while medical costs continue to rise, our health and well-being are declining. Currently, seven out of 10 deaths in America each year are due to chronic diseases that are mostly preventable, such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. We are dying prematurely, and these diseases are compromising the quality of our years. Our children are projected to fare worse—for the first time in two centuries, they may backslide on the steady rise in life expectancy. The [...]

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Preventive Medicine
Food Poisoning: What It Is and How to Prevent It
Aug 31, 2018 By Nick E. Colovos, MD, MBA, FACEP, FAAEM

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans will experience foodborne illness throughout the year. Contracting food poisoning is as simple as ingesting food that has been contaminated by some germ or toxic substance. This contamination could happen before the food is brought into a kitchen for preparation or during the food handling process. On the bright side, food poisoning is preventable and you can take steps to decrease the likelihood of you or your loved ones contracting it.

What is Food Poisoning?

Foodborne illness, foodborne disease and foodborne infection are other names for what is commonly known as food poisoning. According to the CDC, typical food poisoning symptoms are:
  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
These symptoms do not always develop immediately after eating the food and [...]

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Preventive Medicine
Poisonous Plants: How to Avoid Them and Treat Rashes from Them
Aug 27, 2018 By Nick E. Colovos, MD, MBA, FACEP, FAAEM

The sun is out, and spending time outside is a great way to enjoy the last stretch of the summer. However, it’s important to be careful when you are outside because there are a variety of poisonous plants that you may come into contact with – like poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. We’re going to give you some information so that you can better protect yourself and your loved ones from coming into contact with any of these poisonous plants, and know how to treat it if you ever do.

How You Get Rashes from Poisonous Plants

Ever wonder how you got a rash from touching such a small plant? Each of the poisonous plants above secretes urushiol oil onto its roots, stem, and leaves. Once in contact with the skin, this oil often causes anywhere between a mild to severe rash*, itching, and blisters. Each person has a different level of sensitivity to the urushiol oil, and [...]

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Preventive Medicine
The Difference Between Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion, and Heat Stroke
Jun 29, 2018 By Nick E. Colovos, MD, MBA, FACEP, FAAEM


One of the most important things you can do to prevent heat illness is staying hydrated. Without the right amount of fluid intake, your body can’t keep its temperature at a normal, consistent level. Dehydration happens when your body lacks the proper amount of fluids and electrolytes to keep working properly.

Dehydration symptoms include:

  • Thirst
  • Less frequent urination than normal
  • Darker urine color
  • Dry skin
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness and/or fainting
  • Headache
Signs of dehydration may be slightly different for younger individuals. In young children and infants, dehydration symptoms can include a dry mouth and tongue, crying without tears, an extended period of time (around 3 hours) without a wet diaper, high fevers, and an unusual amount of sleepiness or drowsiness.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a serious condition. Heat exhaustion happens [...]

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Preventive Medicine
Sunscreen 101
Jun 19, 2018 By Nick E. Colovos, MD, MBA, FACEP, FAAEM

School is out and it’s time to enjoy the sunshine. After all, you deserve it! But don’t forget, your skin deserves some protection. The skin is a living organ system that interacts with the external environment while protecting our internal organs. Thus, it is important to know about proper sun protection for your skin.

What is SPF?

SPF stands for sun protection factor, meaning there is an extra layer of protection that an individual receives from the application of sunscreen. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the recommendation is to use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and labeled as “broad-spectrum SPF.” The American Cancer Society recommends sunscreens with SPF 30 when engaging in outdoor activities.

What exactly do these numbers mean?

A broad-spectrum sunscreen that has SPF 15 means that particular bottle of sunscreen will offer sun protection against [...]

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Preventive Medicine
Drowning and Water Safety
Jun 1, 2018 By Nick E. Colovos, MD, MBA, FACEP, FAAEM

Summer is finally here and it’s time to spend some time in the water cooling off whether it’s at the pool, lake, or beach. As we’re enjoying this weather near the water, injuries are not the first thing many people think of, but it should be. It is important to make sure that you, your family, and friends are staying safe in the water and not increasing your risk of drowning. You may be thinking, “This won’t happen to me,” or “I know how to swim, I’ll be fine.” While you or others may be excellent swimmers, it only takes a few seconds for an individual to drown. It is important to confirm that everyone in the group has basic swimming skills and to have a designated supervisor while at any body of water, especially if there is not a lifeguard on duty.

Who is at risk for drowning?

There are many factors that may increase a person’s risk of drowning. Here are [...]

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Preventive Medicine
Surviving the Spring Pollen
Apr 20, 2018 By Emory Healthcare

Spring is in full swing! Before we get excited and bolt out the doors for warmer weather, it is important to remember that pollen production is high during this season. Spring allergies can be complex. So, where does pollen come from? How do you prevent the allergies? Here are some things to know.

Common Questions About Allergies

Allergies and asthma have an interesting relationship that can affect everyone in some way. See our "Surviving Allergies and Asthma" blog to learn more about the connection between the two.

Where Does Pollen Come From?

Pollen comes from trees, shrubs, and grass. Every spring, summer, and fall, pollen is released from these plants for fertilization. These tiny grains are carried in the wind and can trigger the common symptoms we know of – runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes. To keep the allergies down to a minimum, try avoiding these plant [...]

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Preventive Medicine
Surviving Allergies and Asthma
Mar 26, 2018 By Emory Healthcare

Allergies and asthma are often partners in crime. With pollen production now in high gear, here are some things you should know, including who to see and where to go if you need treatment. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, an estimated 60% of approximately 25 million asthma cases in the U.S. are allergy related, making it the most common type of asthma. Other kinds include:

  • Non-allergic · Exercise-induced, which occurs on during or after physical activity (see our “Understanding Exercise-Induced Asthma” blog for more)
  • Aspirin-induced, caused by a sensitivity to non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen for example
  • Cough-variant, where the chief or even the only sign is a constant dry cough that never produces mucus or phlegm
  • Thunderstorm asthma, which is a form of asthma the occurs when stormy winds

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