Posted on: January 16, 2019 at 12:26 pm
Last updated: January 21, 2019 at 11:31 am

It’s not a cold or the flu, but one winter sickness comes with warnings from medical professionals. Although seasonal colds and the flu are going around, there is another virus that is making its rounds.

For some, they are experiencing a bad cough that won’t go away. The past few weeks, there have been many reports of illnesses, including gastrointestinal issues. Among the most common of complaints are respiratory problems. This infection is being seen in increasing numbers.

One common symptom is a persistent cough, which is different from the flu.

“Recently we have been seeing a big surge of the upper respiratory type of symptoms, the cough the congestion, the feeling really short of breath,” said Dr. Kenneth Patton of Bethesda North Hospital.


Not a Common Cold

The consequences of this cough range from just a day in bed to a visit to the emergency room.

The flu tends to come on fast. This isn’t the case with this illness. The cough might slowly develop at first and then becomes problematic.

Dr. Kenneth Patton of Bethesda North Hospital says that “Recently we have been seeing a big surge of the upper respiratory type of symptoms, the cough the congestion, the feeling really short of breath.”

When patients finally seek medical treatment, the shortness of breath becomes very apparent.

Of the patients he sees, Dr. Patton says “They are retracting, their ribs are doing a lot of work. You can see their neck muscles, you can really see that they are having a hard time breathing.”

People of different ages experience the illness differently.  “A common cold to you and me, maybe a very serious pneumonia or illness for [elderly or children],” said Dr. Patton.


The biggest concern is how long the illness sticks around. The virus has symptoms such as a cough that won’t stop.

Medical professionals worry because illnesses that last more than a week can be bacterial in nature.

In the emergency room, bacterial infections are treated with IV fluid to rehydrate the body and medications. The upper respiratory illness has no treatments because it is a virus.

If symptoms become severe, it is suggested to seek medical treatment.


3 Things To Help Keep Your Immune System In Top Form

There are a few ways you can make sure you’re breathing easy this winter season First and foremost, remember to wash your hands.

Proper Hand Hygiene

Washing hands is shown to help prevent illness, including respiratory infections. When communities received simple handwashing education, the rates of respiratory illness was reduced from 16 to 21 percent.

Sleep, Stress Reduction and Exercise

Hand hygiene isn’t the only thing. Getting enough sleep is important in treating and preventing illness. This is the time where the body heals.

The Right Diet

Eating a diet rich in vitamin C and fruits and vegetables also helps to strengthen the immune system. Other important nutrients are vitamin D, vitamin A, and zinc. Probiotics can also strengthen the immune system. Refraining from smoking and taking moderate exercise in fresh air will help the body to maintain health and avoid potential irritants.

  1. “Influenza (Flu).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Sept. 2018,
  2. Balentine, Jerry R., and Siamak N. Nabili. “Upper Respiratory Tract Infection Symptoms, Treatment & Contagious.” MedicineNet,
  3. “Show Me the Science – Why Wash Your Hands? | Handwashing | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
  4. Nichols, Hannah. “Can the Immune System Be Boosted?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 25 Jan. 2018,
Megan O’Neill
Lifelong writer
Megan is a lifelong writer and is currently studying nutrition. Megan studies yoga and wants everyone to be living their best lives.

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