Are You Ready For the Fall and Winter Invasion of Germs???

We didn’t think so- but don’t worry we’ve got you covered.

No matter how hard we try, the truth of the matter is germs and bacteria run rampant throughout the fall and winter- and to make it worse, with kids back in school, there’s likely always a cough, cold or infection headed your way.

Now that we have your attention, there are some common illnesses to watch out for- and with the right knowledge and advice, you can reduce the chances of coming in contact with them and the symptoms that tag along.

The Common Cold

The common cold is a viral infection of the throat and nose that typically lasts anywhere from one week to ten days. While a cold is usually not something to worry about too much, young children and the elderly are at a greater risk of complications.

Common symptoms of a cold are:

  • Runny or stuffy nose

  • Sore throat

  • Congestion

  • Cough

  • Sneezing

  • Low grade fever

  • Mild body aches

If your cold lasts longer than 10 days or you have a fever of 101 or higher, call your doctor to discuss making an appointment or the necessary next steps.

Seasonal Flu

Easily transferred from person to person via coughing, sneezing and transmitting the germs to your mouth, nose or eyes after touching infected surfaces, the flu can start as early as August or as late as October. Finishing its run in the early months of the year, this respiratory illness tends to wind down in early February after affecting tens of thousands of people each year.

The symptoms of the flu are similar to the cold, though the flu typically presents with more intensity in the symptoms, as well as fatigue and chills. Unless you are experiencing abnormal pains, aches or excessively high fevers, bed rest and plenty of fluids is the best remedy for the flu.

Ear Infections

Thanks to the changes in weather, ear infections are quite common throughout the winter months, especially in younger children.

Common symptoms to look for are:

  • Pain and tenderness in and around the ear

  • Dizziness

  • Pressure inside the ear

  • Headaches

  • Occasional swelling

  • Occasional vomiting or fever


Caused by a bacterial or viral infection in the lungs, pneumonia causes the air sacs to fill with pus or fluids.

Common symptoms:

  • Chest pain while breathing

  • Prolonged coughing

  • Fever

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

Especially for children and the elderly, those with prolonged symptoms or difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately.


Not to be confused with bronchitis, which impacts adults as well, bronchiolitis is a virus that causes swelling and mucus build up in the smallest air passageways of the lungs for children typically 2 years of age and younger.

Symptoms can persist for a week up to a month and typically resemble those of the common cold. Unless your child is having severe issues breathing, eating or drinking, bronchiolitis shouldn’t require hospitalization. Contact your doctor immediately, however, if your child shows these signs and is under the age of 3 months.


Also known as the stomach flu, norovirus quickly takes over schools, offices and homes, accounting for over 20 million illnesses each year, according to the CDC.

Common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Nausea

  • Intense stomach pains

  • Body aches

  • Fever

Causing dizziness and dehydration, norovirus typically runs its course within 1-3 days. Unfortunately because this is a virus and not caused by bacteria, antibiotics are not useful. The best action is to remain home and drink plenty of liquids throughout the day and night.

While most of these illnesses remedy themselves without the need for medical attention or antibiotics, it’s always important to trust your judgement. If you have more questions or feel there is a need to see a doctor, contact our offices immediately for help. As always our dedicated team at North Hills Family Medicine is here to help you get back to feeling your best all season long!