The autumn season is on its way, and with it comes more than cozy weather and pumpkin spice lattés. Fall is a peak season for many viral illnesses because, according to Harvard Medical School, the cold weather can suppress your immune system and increase your susceptibility to infections.
When you inevitably get hit with a bad cold or other illness this season, and you feel tired, congested, sore, or nauseated, the last thing you want to do is trek to a doctor’s office or clinic and sit in a crowded waiting room to be seen. Fortunately, virtual healthcare services like Akira by TELUS Health let you consult with a healthcare professional from the comfort of your home.
Below we’ve looked at some health concerns and issues treated through virtual care:
1. COLDS, FLU AND RESPIRATORY ILLNESS
Colder weather compromising your immune system is just one of the reasons why fall is a peak season for catching a cold. The colder weather also keeps us indoors, in closer quarters with each other for longer periods of time, making us more susceptible to catching or passing on an airborne illness. The decrease in humidity that comes with the fall season is also a contributing factor; studies show that dry air makes it easier for the flu virus to circulate, and it also dries up some of the protective mucus in your lungs, creating the ideal conditions to catch a respiratory illness.
When it comes to respiratory illness - early detection is critical. Some viruses and bacterial infections mimic a common cold, but are actually much more dangerous and require treatment. The earlier you can identify and treat the illness, the shorter its duration in your body. With Akira by TELUS Health, at the very first sign of an illness you can connect instantly through your smartphone with a healthcare professional who will help you determine the best, most effective treatment.
2. ALLERGIES & ASTHMA
If you suffer from a ragweed allergy, the months of August through October are typically a peak period for sneezing, congestion, puffy eyes and other unpleasant symptoms. Fall is often an unpleasant time of year for asthma sufferers as well. The risk of an asthma attack increases during the autumn season because of a number of factors including the onset of cooler air, allergies, leaves, and campfires, according to the American Lung Association. As in the case with respiratory infections, there are viruses that mimic symptoms of allergies, which are actually more dangerous. With Akira by TELUS Health it’s easy to consult with a healthcare professional about your symptoms to determine the cause and recommended course of action.
3. ARTHRITIS PAIN
According to the Canadian Arthritis Society, one in five Canadians suffer from arthritis. It is this country’s most prevalent chronic health condition. Arthritis is a term that describes a group of over 100 diseases that are characterized by inflammation in the joints or other areas of the body. Inflammation is a medical term that describes pain, stiffness, redness and swelling. The fall season can exacerbate symptoms of arthritis for two reasons - the first being that cold, damp weather can cause increased pain in the joints, and the second reason is that colder weather often causes people to reduce their levels of physical activity, which also cause an increase in arthritis symptoms. For many arthritis sufferers, medication is only one part of the solution to managing this chronic condition. With Akira by TELUS Health, individuals with chronic conditions such as arthritis can consult with a healthcare professional any time of the day or night to gain guidance on managing symptoms, or discuss issues such as the pros and cons of various prescription and non-prescription medication options.
4. SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Many people experience lower energy levels and mood changes as summer wanes and the colder weather arrives, but for some, these feelings aren’t a simple case of the “winter blues”. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that relates to the change in season. For many who suffer from SAD, symptoms start in the fall and continue on throughout the winter. These symptoms include depression, low energy, losing interest in activities, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, sluggishness, difficulty concentrating, feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt, and in some severe cases, frequent thoughts of death and suicide. If you think you may suffer from SAD, it’s important to speak to a doctor without delay. For some, depression and emotional health concerns can be a difficult topic to discuss; Akira by TELUS Health makes it easy to seek guidance from a healthcare professional from the comfort and privacy of your home.
5. RAYNAUD’S DISEASE
Raynaud’s disease and secondary Raynaud’s (also called Raynaud’s phenomenon) causes numbness, pain, stinging, and changes in colour of the fingers and toes in response to cold temperatures or stress. For those with this condition, smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin narrow, limiting blood circulation to affected areas (vasospasm). After exposure to cold, if it takes more than 20 minutes for your fingers and toes to return to a normal feeling and temperature, you may have Raynaud’s disease. Treatment depends on the severity of the case and on the presence of other health conditions. Our virtual healthcare team can provide guidance on lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms, or prescribe medications to improve blood flow. Raynaud’s symptoms can, in some cases, be caused by more serious underlying conditions. Examples include connective tissue disease, disease of the arteries, and carpal tunnel syndrome. If you think you have Raynaud’s, it’s important to speak to a healthcare professional to determine whether the symptoms indicative of a more serious health issue.
6. SORE THROAT
A sore, itchy throat is most commonly caused by a viral infection such as a cold or flu, and thus is one of the more common signs that illness is on the horizon. Often a sore throat will resolve itself on its own, but in other cases treatment is required – a quick consult with our virtual care team will help you determine the best course of action. It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional if your sore throat lasts longer than a week or is frequently recurring; if you have difficulty swallowing, breathing or opening your mouth; if you’re feeling joint pain or an earache; develop a rash or fever higher than 101˚F; discover blood in your saliva or phlegm; or develop a lump of any size around your neck or swelling in your face.
Sinus pain is a symptom of a common cold, which usually goes away by itself within about a week. But when sinus congestion lingers or worsens over time, it may be indicative of a bacterial infection, and in some cases, may require antibiotics. Sinusitis (also known as a sinus infection) refers to inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the sinuses, which causes symptoms such as thick nasal mucus, a plugged nose, and facial pain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, sinusitis becomes more common as the cold weather arrives, and the pain associated with sinus headaches worsens in the cold and damp weather. If you are experiencing sinus pain, consult our virtual healthcare team to help determine the best course of action.
The fall season brings with it many reasons to take advantage of virtual healthcare services. Got questions? We’ve got answers. Akira healthcare practitioners are here to help. Click here to learn more.