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Archive for December 2016

Difference Between Cold, Flu and Pneumonia

influenza, cold and bronchitis treatment in laurel and elkridge mdWith winter officially beginning last week, we’ll soon be entering the coldest and harshest days of the year. Due to the snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures arriving in the near future, people will inevitably be flocking indoors to escape winter’s unpleasantries. When people confine themselves inside congested coffee shops, buses and subways, they become increasingly vulnerable to the host of infections and viruses that plague us each year around this time. Most common of these winter illnesses are cold, flu and pneumonia. Read on to learn more about the differences between these pesky winter illnesses.

The Common Cold

Perhaps the most common of all illnesses, the common cold, while largely innocuous, has no treatment besides time. On average, American adults experiences approximately 2-3 colds each year. While you can contract a cold at any point during the year, they tend to be more common during the winter months. Despite the common misconception that exposure to cold temperatures directly causes the common cold, this has been proven false.

Cold symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Runny Nose
  • Sore Throat
  • Sneezing
  • Drowsiness

Cough drops, refraining from alcohol consumption and getting plenty of sleep will help minimize its symptoms and expedite the healing process. However, because of its unspecific symptoms, feel free to visit us at FirstCall Urgent Care as your symptoms may be due to another, more serious illness, such as influenza.


Flu season begins each year in the early fall but doesn’t typically pick up until January. Flu season will wind down in the early spring most years but has lasted as late as early June certain years.  While the CDC highly recommends receiving the flu shot each year, the vaccine is more successful some years than others. This leads to an inconsistent and unique infection rate year-over-year.

Everybody should receive a flu shot each year, yet for children, people with compromised immune systems and people over 65 years of age, receiving a flu shot can be potentially life-saving. While healthy adults should be able to beat the flu after a week or so, its symptoms can be deadly for the aforementioned groups of people.

Flu symptoms include:

  • Muscle soreness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting (very common with children)
  • Muscle Soreness
  • Persistent Headaches
  • Low Energy


Both Pneumonia and the less serious “Walking Pneumonia” can be caused by both a bacterial or viral infection. Pneumonia caused by viral infections are less serious but are not as treatable as Pneumonia caused by bacterial infections. This is because with bacterial infection Pneumonia cases, while potentially deadly, can be treated using antibacterials

Pneumonia is defined as an inflammation of the lungs that often causes a fluid to build up inside of the lungs.  About 50,000 people die each year in the United States from Pneumonia. Most cases involve individuals with autoimmune diseases, weak immune systems (elderly, infants, etc…), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) and heart disease.

Pneumonia symptoms include:

  • Chest Pain
  • Sputum-Producing Cough
  • The ‘Chills’
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing Difficulty

For diagnosis and treatment for any of the above illnesses, visit us at FirstCall Urgent Care. Our walk-in urgent care center can diagnose a number of winter illnesses and provide treatment. If necessary, we can also refer you to a specialist or prescribe medication for treatment. Visit us today or call us for more information at 410-730-3399.


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When to go to an Urgent Care Center vs ER

Cast for hand injuryWhen it comes to experiencing random and severe abdominal pains or a sprained ankle from soccer practice, you may want to seek immediate medical attention.  But what happens when your doctor’s office is closed and the cost of the emergency room makes you hesitant to check yourself in?  Urgent care centers bridge the gap of seeking immediate medical attention when your doctor’s office is closed and the emergency room is too expensive.

When it comes to certain medical conditions, it’s important to know the difference between going to the emergency room or going to an urgent care center.

When to go to the emergency room

Emergency room visits are the best option for sudden and severe injuries, illnesses, or infections that can be life-threatening.  Emergency rooms are opened 24/7 and treat a wide range of conditions.  A few reasons you may want to visit the ER include:

  • Severe injuries that require surgery
  • Signs of a stroke, heart attack, seizures, or sudden severe pain
  • Unconsciousness
  • Poisoning or severe allergic reaction
  • Complications during pregnancy

When to go to an urgent care center

If the condition is not life-threatening but needs to be treated the same day, a visit to an urgent care center is a great alternative.  Urgent care centers have late nights and weekends, which makes it easy for patients to be treated when their primary care physician isn’t available, and they want to skip the wait and cost of the emergency room.

  • Flu and cold symptoms
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain
  • Minor cuts that may require stitches
  • Minor sprains and broken bones
  • Minor abdominal or back pain
  • Breathing discomfort
  • Ear infections
  • Animal or insect bites
  • Seasonal allergy relief
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