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Medical News & Updates

Feeling Sick & Tired?

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When you don’t take proper care of yourself, your body tends to show for it when you get sick.  You’ll probably end up with a runny nose, high fever, consistent cough, and you’ll more than likely feel tired.

When you feel tired while you’re sick, that’s a sure sign that your body is telling you to lay down and catch some Zzzs.  But some don’t know how to take a sick day.  Without resorting to hibernation for the in the colder months, your body may need a few days away from the office to recover from a cold.

Here are a few reasons why you should take a rest day when you’re coming down with a cold.

  • Your body actually needs rest – The average adults needs at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night in order to properly function throughout the day.
  • Helps fight infection – Studies have shown that those who get proper sleep are able to fight off infections than those who are sleep deprived.
  • Boosts your energy levels –  The same way you wake up feeling refreshed from a good night’s rest is the way your body feels refreshed when you get enough sleep while you’re sick.

The next time your body comes down with a cold, actually listen to it and utilize your sick time.

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Sexually Active? You Should Probably Get Tested.

Get Test For STDs in Laurel MD

Most think they would know if they have an STD, but the only sure way to know if you have an infection is to get tested.  Most STDs symptoms are mild and can go completely unnoticed.  If left untreated, they can lead to further health complications down the line.

Generally, you should get tested at least once a year, or at least every few months if you have high-risk factors, such as new or multiple sex partners.

If you are experiencing symptoms that you think could be an STD, you should seek medical guidance.  Some symptoms of STDs include:

  • Painful urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Vaginal discharge in women
  • Pain during sexual intercourse in women
  • Bleeding between periods in women
  • Discharge from the penis in men
  • Testicular pain in men

At FirstCall Urgent Care, we can test for a wide variety of sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Our physicians will go over your results and provide you with any medical information and treatment if necessary.

Some of our testing services include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Herpes
  • Syphilis
  • HPV

If you test positive for an STD or STI, it’s also important to notify your partner and advise them to get tested, as well.

If you would like to utilize our STD testing services, or would like more information about sexually transmitted diseases and infections, please call us at 410-730-3399.

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Could Your Sore Throat Be Strep Throat?


You have a sore throat, cough, runny nose, and your body may feel sore.  Do you have the common cold, or could you possibly have the flu?  Sometimes it can be tough to tell.

Some symptoms of viral infections are treatable with over the counter medicine and home remedies, but when your persistent cough lingers for weeks at a time, this could be a sign of another medical condition, such as strep throat.

Strep throat is a contagious bacterial infection in the throat area.  Group A Streptocccusbacteria (group A strep) is the main cause of strep throat.  The bacteria can live in a person’s nose or throat without causing any illness, but by breathing, coughing, or sneezing, an infected person releases droplets of the bacteria into the air and on surfaces.  Touching a contaminated area or being in close contact with someone who has strep throat can spread the virus.

The throat becomes irritated and inflamed, which can cause a severe throat.  While strep throat is more common amongst children and teens, anyone who interacts with someone who has strep throat is highly susceptible to catching it.  The common symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sore/dry throat
  • Swollen tonsils and lymph nodes
  • Hoarseness or loss of voice
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach or loss of appetite
  • High fever (over 101° F)
  • White or yellow spots on the back of a bright red throat

If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms for longer than 48 hours, it’s best to seek medical attention.  Strep throat is easily treatable with antibiotics and bed rest.

At FirstCall Urgent Care, we can treat your symptoms, provide you with antibiotics, and offer medical information about treatment and prevention to keep you and your family members safe from getting strep throat.

For more information on the services we provide, please call to speak with one of our medical professionals at 410-730-3399.

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Prevent Getting the Flu

Avoid getting sick this flu seasonNow that flu season is in full swing, it’s important to make sure you protect yourself against the flu.  Getting the flu can leave you out of work or school for weeks at a time.  It can also be potentially harmful if you have health conditions such as asthma, heart disease, or a weakened immune system.

Getting your annual flu shot is the first preventative measure against the flu, but here are a few other ways you can protect yourself this flu season.

  1. Any time you use the bathroom, before and after you eat, and after shaking hands with someone, you should wash your hands. It’s also best to avoid touching areas of your face such as your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  2. Sanitize hard surfaces such as kitchen counter-tops, doorknobs, and handles, as well as objects such as TV remotes, phones, and laptops. Also, make sure to disinfect children’s toys between playtime, as little ones are highly susceptible to getting sick.
  3. Avoid sharing eating utensils and drinks with others. Also, make sure everyone in your house has their own towels, wash clothes, and bedding such as pillows and blankets.
  4. Change your toothbrush once you get well, as toothbrushes are a breeding ground for germs, so make sure you get a new one to avoid getting sick again.
  5. Practice healthy habits such as drinking plenty of water, maintaining a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and incorporating exercise into your routine.

For diagnosis and treatment for the flu, visit us at FirstCall Urgent Care.  We provide treatment on a walk-in basis.  Visit us today or call us for more information at 410-730-3399.

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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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Why You Should Wash Your Hands


Throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands by touching surfaces, objects, and people.  Touching your eyes or mouth without washing your hands can lead to a potential virus.  While it is impossible to keep your hands germ-free, frequent hand-washing is a preventative measure to transferring harmful bacteria and viruses.

Why does hand washing work?

Many germs live for hours on surfaces such as tables, keyboards, and doorknobs.  Being in public spaces invites a host of germs that can get you sick.  Washing your hands after encounters where you’ve shaken someone’s hand, used public transportation, or visited a loved one who is sick can prevent you from picking up germs as well as prevent you from spreading your own.

How should I be washing my hands?

Washing your hands simply requires plain soap and running water.  You should be rubbing your hands for about 20 seconds, covering the entire surface of your hands including your wrists, fingers, and fingernails.  Following washing your hands, dry your hands with a clean paper towel or an air dryer.

If you’re using a public restroom, you should use a clean paper towel to turn the knob.

How often should I be washing my hands?

You should be washing your hands almost 10 times a day.  Yes, it is a lot, but think of how many times you use the bathroom and how many times you eat throughout the day.  You should be washing your hands after every bathroom use, before food preparation, and before and after meals.

Other times you should be washing your hands include:

  • Blowing your nose
  • Coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Shaking hands with others
  • Handling garbage or other contaminated household items
  • Handling contact lenses
  • Diaper changing
  • Caring for or visiting a sick person
  • Treating infected wounds
  • After touching an animal

Does hand sanitizer work?

When you’re not within arm’s reach of a sink, an alcohol-based sanitizer is a great alternative.  The hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol.

For use, rub the entire surface of your hands until your hands are dry.  While hand sanitizer is good to use, it does not beat hand washing.  When you get the chance, you should follow up with a thorough hand scrub to remove any buildup from the hand sanitizer.

What else can I do to prevent the spread of germs?

Hand washing is the main thing you can do to prevent the spread of germs.  Avoid touching contaminated surfaces and objects and try your best not to touch your face.  Other things you can do is making sure you use sanitary wipes and clean surfaces in your home, staying away from sick or infected people, and making sure you’re vaccinated for common illness such as the flu.

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