In-House Labs & X-ray

IMC Immediate Medical Care offers a full range of standard medical examinations, tests, screenings and assessments, including those often required by educational institutions, employers, and the Department of Transportation.

Labs, Tests, Screenings, and Assessments Offered at IMC

  • X-rays
  • Drug testing/specimen collection
    • Non-DOT drug testing
    • DOT drug testing
    • Pre-employment
    • Post-accident
    • Random
    • Reasonable suspicion
    • Return-to-duty/follow-up
  • Breath alcohol testing
  • OSHA-mandated services
    • Hepatitis B vaccinations
    • Post-exposure treatment and documentation
  • Special clinical testing
    • EKGs
    • Pulmonary function screening
  • Wellness assessments

Asthma and Respiratory Issues

Bronchitis, RSV, COPD and Pneumonia

There are many different types of respiratory illnesses. The most common include colds and flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), bronchitis, and pneumonia.

A visit with our caring medical staff can help diagnose what’s troubling you. They’ll recommend treatment to help you feel better and, depending on your illness, refer you to any specialized care that may be needed.

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis occurs when your bronchial tubes, which carry air to your lungs, get infected and swollen. There are two types of bronchitis: acute and chronic. Acute bronchitis is common and is usually onset by a cold or other virus and may remain as a lingering cough for several weeks.

Chronic bronchitis, however, is a constant inflammation of the bronchial tubes, usually caused by smoking. Bronchitis is considered chronic when it lasts at least three months, with recurring bouts of coughing that happen for at least two years in a row.

Symptoms of bronchitis

Symptoms of both acute and chronic bronchitis include:

  • Chest congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Cough
  • Production of mucus when coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight fever and chills
  • Sore chest

What is pneumonia?

The symptoms of this lung infection come on slower than the flu but faster than a cold. Pneumonia can be a complication of colds and flu making diagnosis a little more complex. Pneumonia can occur when the germs that cause colds and flu get down into your lungs. Right when you might be feeling better, you could suddenly start getting symptoms again – and now they may be worse.

Symptoms of pneumonia

Symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms are similar to cold and flu symptoms, but they last much longer.

With pneumonia your symptoms may be similar to the flu, but also may include:

  • Chest pain.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cough, which may be productive.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Fatigue.
  • High fever, sweating, and chills.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Diagnosing pneumonia

To diagnose pneumonia, our IMC staff will start by asking about your medical history and doing a physical exam, including listening to your lungs with a stethoscope to check for abnormal bubbling or crackling sounds that suggest pneumonia.

If pneumonia is suspected, your Immediate Medical Care professional will likely recommend further testing.

What is respiratory syncytial virus?

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) affects the lungs and respiratory tract. It’s one of the most common causes of lower respiratory tract infections in children, accounting for more than 2 million yearly outpatient visits in kids younger than 5 years old.* In most regions of the United States, RSV usually circulates during fall, winter, and spring, but the timing and severity of RSV season in a given community can vary from year to year.

RSV can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. You can get infected if you get droplets from the cough or sneeze in your eyes, nose, or mouth, or if you touch a surface that has the virus on it, like a doorknob, and then touch your face before washing your hands. Additionally, it can spread through direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child with RSV.

* Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV): Trends and Surveillance. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms of RSV

  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Cough
  • Low-grade fever
  • Sore throat
  • Mild headache

Most cases of RSV are mild. But, it might mean that your illness is becoming more severe if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Severe cough
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing

Treating RSV

RSV is generally diagnosed by taking a medical history and performing a physical exam.

You can treat symptoms by:

  • Resting and drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Keeping your child upright as much as possible.
  • Using a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer to keep air moist.
  • Using saline drips or a nasal rinse to ease sinus congestion.
  • Managing pain with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Staying away from cigarette smoke.

Treatment also may include inhaled medications to help open airways.

Most people will recover from RSV within a couple of weeks, but hospitalization may be necessary depending on age and severity of symptoms.

Someone who is ill is most contagious within the first few days of being infected, but he or she can possibly spread the virus for several weeks after symptoms appear.

Eye Infections

What is Pink-eye?

Conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid.

Causes of Pink-eye

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) can be highly contagious and is most often seen in small children. It is rarely serious and unlikely to cause long-term damage or loss of vision if treated quickly. If pinkeye is suspected in a newborn, treatment is recommended immediately as there may be a higher risk to the infant’s vision and can be very serious.

Viral conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis, the most common and likely the most contagious, usually starts in one eye and spreads to the other. You may notice watery eyes, watery discharge, and possibly swollen lymph glands.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis, a bacterial infection of the eye, usually affects one eye, but can show up in both. It may occur with an ear infection and is more common in children than adults. Like viral conjunctivitis, it is also highly contagious.

Allergens

Allergic conjunctivitis is a result of the body’s reaction to allergens, such as pollen from trees, dust mites, or makeup. Unlike viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, this form of pink eye is not contagious and usually occurs in both eyes. The eyes can become swollen, intensely itchy, and watery although discharge is not usually associated.

Symptoms of Pink-eye

Despite the cause of pink eye, the symptoms generally are the same and can include:

  • White of the eye(s) turning pink or red
  • Eyelids or/and the conjunctiva swelling
  • Tear production increase
  • Urge to rub eye(s)
  • Feeling like a foreign body is in the eye(s)
  • Itching, irritation, or burning of the eye(s)
  • Discharge (pus or mucus) secreting from the eye(s) – sometime causing eyelashes to stick together
  • Eyelids or lashes crusting, especially in the morning
  • Contact lenses feeling uncomfortable and/or not staying in place when worn

Diagnosing Pink eye

Eye redness or swelling can be a clear indicator of pink eye (all red, irritated, or swollen eyes are pinkeye), but other symptoms can vary depending on the root cause.

Strep Throat

An aching throat, strep throat?

Viruses are the most common cause of a sore throat. However, strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep).

People who are infected spread the bacteria by coughing or sneezing, which creates small respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria.

Strep is contagious and requires antibiotic treatment. Our medical team can perform a group A strep test and get you feeling better.

Symptoms of strep throat

The symptoms of strep throat can start suddenly. They include:

  • Sore throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Red or swollen tonsils.
  • Tiny red spots at the back of your mouth.
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
  • Fever or headache.
  • Body aches or chills.

Diagnosing strep throat

Many of the symptoms above can be caused by viral infections and other illnesses. That’s why our medical team will conduct a test to confirm strep. Our IMC Immediate Medical Care centers are equipped to test for strep.

After a physical exam by our medical team, examining the patient for signs and symptoms of strep throat, one of the following test will probably be recommended:

1. Rapid antigen test
Your doctor will likely first perform a rapid antigen test on a swab sample from your throat. This test can detect strep bacteria in minutes by looking for substances (antigens) in the throat. If the test is negative but your doctor still suspects strep, he or she might do a throat culture.

2. Throat culture
If strep throat is still suspected after the Rapid antigen test, a throat culture may be recommended. A sterile swab is rubbed over the back of the throat and tonsils to get a sample of the secretions. It’s not painful, but it may cause gagging. The sample is then cultured in a laboratory for the presence of bacteria, but results can take as long as two days.

Urinary Tract Infection

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most UTIs happen in the lower part of your urinary tract – the bladder or urethra.

UTIs usually happen when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply in the bladder. Our urinary tracts are made to keep out unwanted bacteria, but sometimes these microbes slip past our bodies’ defenses.

Women are at a greater risk of UTIs because of female anatomy. UTI causes are varied and post-menopausal women are particularly susceptible. Mostly, though, these infections are caused by bacteria commonly found in the gastroenterological tract, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli).

Symptoms of a UTI

When you have a UTI, you may not experience any symptoms. If you do, they usually include:

  • The urge to urinate
  • A “burning” feeling while urinating
  • Small, Frequent urinating
  • Cloudy urine
  • Urine that might look pink or reddish – this is a sign of blood in your urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Possible pelvic pain

More specific symptoms are associated with the If the kidneys are infected, you might experience:

  • Upper back pain
  • Fever
  • Shaking or chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Diagnosing a UTI

To diagnose a UTI, you’ll give a urine sample that will be analyzed by our medical team. This urinalysis can reveal signs of infection, such as a cloudy appearance and altered pH, as well as other more specific findings, such as byproducts of bacteria and white blood cells.

To identify the specific bacteria causing the infection, your provider may recommend obtaining a urine culture. For this, a urine sample will be sent to an outside lab. In addition to growing the bacteria for identification, it also allows the lab to check what antibiotics will effectively kill the bacteria so that proper treatment can be assured.

Sinus Infections

What is a sinus infection?

Stuffy nose that just isn’t getting better? You might have a sinus infection, also called sinusitis.
A sinus infection can occur when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen, and inflamed after fluid becomes trapped in the sinuses, allowing germs to grow. A previous cold or agitated allergies may be followed by sinusitis, even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone.

Sinus infection risk factors

  • A recent cold
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Smoke or airborne irritants
  • Weak immune system
  • Structural problems in the sinuses

Symptoms of sinus infections

A sinus infection may exhibit these common symptoms:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of the sense of smell
  • Postnasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Diagnosing sinus infections

If you have any of these symptoms or your symptoms don’t improve after 3-4 days you may have a sinus infection, a visit to our Immediate Medical Care team can help you diagnose and treat the condition. Be prepared to let our medical team review your symptoms and perform a physical exam.

Cold & Flu

Is it a Cold or Flu?

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the flu.

What is the common cold?

The common cold can be caused by more than 200 different viruses, which easily spread through close contact and in the air from coughs and sneezes. According to the CDC, rhinovirus is the most common type of virus that causes colds.

Most colds clear up within 7 to 10 days. Other illnesses can sometimes follow a cold; these are referred to as called “secondary infections.” The most common of these are bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus infection, and ear infection. Small children are especially prone to ear infections after having a cold.

Cold symptoms

Most people recognize signs of a cold. Most colds will typically begin with a sore throat and runny nose. Typically the symptoms of a cold come on slower and more gradually than the flu.

  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Tiredness / fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Mild achiness
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • A mild fever in children (101° F – 102° F)
  • Mild achiness
  • Tiredness / fatigue

Diagnosing a cold

Colds are generally diagnosed by observing symptoms. Tests to identify the virus are not necessary.

Differences between a cold and the flu

Colds and the flu are both viral illness, and sometimes it can be hard to tell them apart. With our helpful chart below, you can learn about cold and flu symptoms and how the symptoms may show up differently for a cold or the flu.

 

Signs and SymptomsColdInfluenza (Flu)
Symptom onsetGradualAbrupt
FeverRareUsual; lasts 3-4 days
AchesSlightUsual; often severe
ChillsUncommonFairly common
Fatigue, weaknessSometimesUsual
SneezingCommonSometimes
Chest discomfort, coughMild to moderate; hacking coughCommon; can be severe
Stuffy noseCommonSometimes
Sore throatCommonSometimes
HeadacheRareCommon

The flu (influenza)

Flu is different from a cold, as it usually comes on suddenly. Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of flu, some of which can be life-threatening if not treated.

Diagnosing the flu

At IMC Immediate Medical Care, our medical team may diagnose you with flu based on your symptoms and their clinical judgment, or they may choose to use an influenza diagnostic test. During an outbreak of respiratory illness, testing for flu can help determine if flu viruses are the cause of the outbreak. Flu testing can also be helpful for some people with suspected flu who are pregnant or have a weakened immune system, and for whom a diagnosis of flu can help their doctor make decisions about their care.

Skin Conditions & Rashes

At IMC Immediate Medical Care, we understand that sometimes an annoying itch can’t wait for an appointment. That’s why we have convenient hours to try to ease your discomfort.

There are a number of skin conditions that can cause dry, painful, itchy skin, and blisters, rashes, or sores. Some common conditions we treat include cellulitis, eczema, impetigo, poison ivy/oak/sumac, ringworm, and shingles.

What is cellulitis?

A common bacterial skin infection, cellulitis occurs when bacteria enters a break in the skin and spreads. Cellulitis can manifest anywhere on your body, but it’s most common on exposed parts of the skin like the lower legs, hands, arms, and face.

Symptoms of cellulitis

  • Redness in the skin that expands or streaks
  • Swollen skin that can be tender or even painful
  • Areas of the skin that are warm to the touch
  • Red, blotchy skin that may blister or dimple

You should seek immediate emergency care if you have:

  • A rash that’s changing rapidly, or is swollen and painful
  • A fever

Diagnosing cellulitis

To diagnose cellulitis, your IMC Immediate Medical Care  team will, among other things, examine the affected area. They may perform a blood test or take a sample of the area to test for bacteria that caused the condition.

Treating cellulitis

A healthcare professional can consider the severity of your symptoms when determining treatment, which may include an oral antibiotic. Stay in touch with your healthcare professional as the infection heals and responds to medication to determine if a course correction is required. If the infection doesn’t respond well to the initial antibiotic choice, alterations to the antibiotic regimen may be necessary, which could include a change to IV medications.

At home, you can ease the symptoms of cellulitis by:

  • Elevating the affected area to reduce swelling
  • Applying a cold, damp cloth to the area to reduce pain

What is eczema?

Eczema, derived from a Greek word meaning “to boil over,” refers to a group of noncontagious conditions that cause the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed. There are several types, including:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Dyshidrotic eczema
  • Nummular eczema
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Stasis dermatitis

It is possible to have more than one type at a time, but each type of eczema causes itching and redness. Some may also cause the skin to blister, “weep,” or peel.

While eczema is a very common skin ailment – more than 30 million Americans have some form of eczema – it is also highly manageable.

Symptoms of eczema

  • Itchy skin.
  • Dry red areas.
  • Red to brownish-grey patches on the skin.
  • Small, raised bumps that can leak fluid and crust when scratched.
  • Raw, sensitive, swollen skin – mostly from scratching.

Diagnosing eczema

If appropriate, our medical team may, among other things, check your skin, ask about your medical history, and any family history of eczema, allergies, hay fever, or asthma.

Treating eczema

For mild eczema, treatment consists of:

  • Washing with mild soap and using moisturizer to keep your skin from drying out.
  • Avoiding long, hot showers or baths, which dries out skin.
  • Managing your stress.
  • Using a humidifier to keep air moist.

For more severe eczema, treatment consists of a variety of therapies:

  • Antihistamines
  • Prescription topical medications, commonly corticosteroid cream
  • Systemic corticosteroids

What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a contagious infection that is caused by one of two kinds of bacteria: strep (streptococcus) or staph (staphylococcus). It creates red sores that can break open, which then get a yellow-brown crust. The sores are not typically painful, but they can be itchy.

Although impetigo is one of the most common skin infections in children, adults can contract the ailment since skin sores are often prone to bacterial infection.

Symptoms of impetigo

  • Small red spots that change to blisters.
  • Commonly found around the nose, mouth, hands, and forearms (and diaper areas for infants and toddlers).
  • Blisters break open and leak fluid and/or looked crusted.
  • Sores that get bigger and spread.

Diagnosing impetigo

To diagnose impetigo, our medical team may, among other things, examine your skin and take a thorough medical history. Sometimes, a culture may be taken by swabbing a sore that will be sent to a lab to test for the bacteria that caused the condition.

Treating impetigo

Since it is bacteria-based, impetigo is treated with antibiotics. A prescription topical cream or pills/liquid to take internally may be recommended.

Children can usually return to school 24 hours after treatment has begun.

At home, you can ease the symptoms of impetigo by:

  • Gently washing the sores with soap and water and patting dry.
  • Not scratching the sores.

After applying cream or washing the rash, be sure to always thoroughly wash your hands to prevent the sores from spreading.

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac: is there a difference?

Poison ivy and poison sumac are typically found in the Midwest and Eastern states, while poison oak is usually found in the Western states.

The three plants have different characteristics, but they all have one thing in common: urushiol. It’s the oil in the plants that causes that itchy rash you expect to develop if you come in contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac.

Often, the itchy rash, which can turn into painful blisters, doesn’t start to develop until one to two days after encountering the plant. Typically, the rash lasts one to two weeks and is not contagious. However, the oil can stick to clothing and objects, potentially causing another rash if these items are not washed properly after exposure.

Symptoms of poison ivy, oak, and sumac

  • Itchy skin.
  • Redness or red streaks.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling.
  • An outbreak of small or large blisters, often forming streaks or lines.
  • Crusting skin (after blisters burst) – usually from scratching.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, go to an emergency room right away:

  • Trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • Rash covers most of your body.
  • Many rashes or blisters.
  • Swelling, especially if an eyelid swells shut.
  • Rash develops anywhere on your face or genitals.
  • Much of your skin itches, or nothing seems to ease the itch.

Diagnosing poison ivy, oak, and sumac

By examining the rash, among other things, our medical team can diagnose poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Typically, no laboratory testing is needed to make the diagnosis.

Treating poison ivy, oak, and sumac

Most rashes from poison ivy, oak, or sumac go away without treatment within one to three weeks. However, if the reaction is serious, you will likely need prescription medication, such as a topical or systemic steroid depending upon severity.

If an infection develops as a result of the rash, an antibiotic may also be prescribed. A fever, pus, pain, swelling, and warmth around the rash are all indicators that you likely have an infection.

To help stop the itch while healing, consider these tips:

  • If possible, immediately rinse your skin with lukewarm, soapy water after coming into contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac.
  • Wash everything that may have the plant’s oil on its surface, including your clothing.
  • Take short, lukewarm baths in a colloidal oatmeal preparation or add one cup of baking soda to the running water. Short, cool showers may also provide some relief.
  • Consider calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.
  • Apply cool compresses to the itchy skin.

What is ringworm?

Ringworm (tinea corporis or tinea manuum) does not involve worms despite its name. It is a contagious skin infection caused by fungus, and its name likely comes from the raised, ring-shaped rash that forms as a result. It can appear on just about any part of the body, but it tends to lack the ring-shaped pattern on the palms, soles, groin, and nails.

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is among the most common form of ringworm, putting athletes at a higher risk than others. However, the fungi that cause ringworm thrive in tropical areas and during hot, humid summers. The fungi also flourish in warm, moist locker rooms and indoor pools, putting anyone in those environments at an increased risk as well.

Skin-to-skin contact with an infected person can transmit ringworm. The fungi that cause ringworm can also live on any infected object, including clothing, brushes, and sports equipment, for long periods of time.

Symptoms of ringworm

  • Ring-shaped, flat patches on the skin that have a raised, scaly border.
  • A red rash on light skin or a brown/gray rash on dark skin – with swelling.
  • Infected skin can be intensely itchy and painful — but not always.
  • Skin can flake, peel, and crack.
  • Itching, burning, and stinging on soles of feet and between toes.
  • Foul foot odor if specifically suffering from athlete’s foot.
  • Discoloration and thickening of toenails or fingernails.

Diagnosing ringworm

To diagnose ringworm, our medical team may, among other things, examine the affected area and potentially other areas of your body, as it’s common for the infection to spread. Sometimes, a sample of the infected skin, hair, or nail may be collected and sent to a lab to confirm whether it contains any fungi that caused the ringworm.

Treating ringworm

Ringworm is treated with antifungal medicine that comes in a variety of forms, such as creams, ointments, and pills. The type of medication will depend on the area of your body that needs treatment.

If applying medication directly to the affected area, be sure to wash your hands immediately afterward to prevent ringworm from spreading to other areas of your body.

It’s also important to use your antifungal medicine for as long as prescribed. Otherwise, the infection may fail to clear and could make ringworm harder to treat.

What is shingles?

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection that causes a painful rash, which most commonly appears on your torso as a strip of blisters that will extend around your right or left sides. However, the rash can happen anywhere on the body. While it is typically a benign self-limiting rash, some sites may indicate a more urgent condition, particularly the tip of the nose, which can indicate involvement of the nerves of the eye.

Anyone who has had chicken pox can get shingles, since it is caused by the same virus – varicella-zoster. After you’ve had chicken pox, this virus lies dormant in your body until a potential trigger, such as stress or certain medication, reactivates the virus. In many instances, it is unknown what causes the varicella-zoster virus to reactivate.

You can’t catch shingles from someone who has shingles. However, if you have shingles, you can infect someone who has never had chicken pox (or the chicken pox vaccine) with the varicella-zoster virus.

Shingles is most common in adults and with those who have weakened immune systems.

Symptoms of shingles

  • Pain, burning, or numbness (usually the first symptoms).
  • Usually only one side of the body is affected.
  • A red, itchy rash that begins a few days after the pain.
  • Rash becomes fluid-filled blisters that can break open and crust over.

Diagnosing shingles

To diagnose shingles, your IMC Immediate Medical Care medical team will, among other things, perform a thorough medical history and physical exam. The symptoms of shingles, especially the rash on one side, are distinctive enough that providers usually do not need to perform laboratory tests to diagnose the cause.

Treating shingles

If you suspect you may have shingles, medical care should be sought as soon as possible. The treatment of shingles is most effective when caught early.

Shingles can be treated through a combination of medication and home care. Prescription antiviral medications can help the rash heal sooner and reduce the chance of developing chronic pain (post-herpetic neuralgia). In addition, if you have shingles, you can lessen the discomfort by taking over-the-counter pain relievers.

While you’re healing, try to:

  • Avoid scratching the rash.
  • Use cool, moist compresses on the blisters.
  • Apply baking soda to the sores to help them dry and heal faster.

Abdominal / Stomach Pain

GI diseases and illnesses are any ailments linked to the digestive system, including the throat, stomach, and intestines. Diagnoses may include acute, short-term illnesses – sometimes referred to as “stomach bugs.” They can give you unpleasant symptoms while they work their way through your system.

GI diseases may also include more chronic diagnoses, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and may require long-term, specialty treatment.

There are several different types of GI illnesses, including viral gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and even constipation. On this page, you’ll learn more about some of the most common short-term GI illnesses we see at IMC Immediate Medical Care.

Did you know? The National Institutes of Health reports that between 60 and 70 million people are affected by digestive diseases each year.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal illnesses

Most GI ailment symptoms are easily recognizable. GI disorders generally begin with abdominal discomfort and nausea and then symptoms may differ depending on your specific ailment. GI disorders or infections may include:

Viral gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”)

Gastroenteritis, also known as infectious diarrhea, is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract–the stomach and small intestine. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Fever, lack of energy and dehydration may also occur. This typically lasts less than two weeks. It is not related to influenza, though it has erroneously been called the “stomach flu.”

Gastroenteritis is usually caused by viruses. However, bacteria, parasites, and fungus can also cause gastroenteritis. In children, rotavirus is the most common cause of severe disease. In adults, norovirus and Campylobacter are common causes. Eating improperly prepared food, drinking contaminated water or close contact with a person who is infected can spread the disease. Treatment is generally the same with or without a definitive diagnosis, so testing to confirm is usually not needed.

Gastroenteritis symptoms may take several days to appear. Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • A low fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pPain

Food poisoning

Food poisoning is an illness which occurs when you’ve eaten food contaminated by an infectious organism, such as salmonella, listeria, or E. coli. Some 250 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites can cause food poisoning. Your symptoms usually pass in a few days or even in mere hours. But if your discomfort doesn’t go away, you may need to get checked and find out exactly what made you sick. Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Cramps

Constipation

A common, usually temporary disorder, often the result of inactivity, eating or drinking a lot of dairy products, and/or not having enough fiber or water in your diet. Constipation may resolve itself within a few days. Symptoms include:

  • Trouble with bowel movements
  • Bloating

Morning sickness

Morning sickness is nausea and vomiting that occurs during pregnancy. And, despite its name, morning sickness can strike at any time of the day or night. Many pregnant women have morning sickness, especially during the first trimester. But some women have morning sickness throughout pregnancy. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Diagnosing gastrointestinal illnesses

Because there are a multitude of diagnoses that fall under GI illnesses, your IMC medical team may ask you about your symptoms and recent activities, among other things, to help them make their diagnosis.

Patients may be referred to a gastroenterologist for chronic disorders. Specialists may be able to help the patient determine how to adjust their lifestyle, diet, medications, or manage their ongoing symptoms. In cases where serious underlying disorders are suspected by your healthcare provider, immediate referral to the emergency department may be necessary.

Ear Infection & Swimmer’s Ear

There are two main types of ear infections: acute otitis media (a middle ear infection) and otitis externa (swimmer’s ear). A middle ear infection occurs behind the eardrum, whereas swimmer’s ear occurs in the ear canal. Different organisms cause these infections. Swimmer’s ear and ear infections can be a problem year-round.

Ear infection and swimmer’s ear causes

Swimmer’s ear is caused by excess moisture in the ear from swimming or even routine showering. The bacteria in the water find a hospitable home in the moist environment of an inflamed ear canal.

Ear infections can be caused by bacteria and viruses. Bacteria cause most ear infections, but viruses like the flu can also be linked to ear infections. During a cold, sinus or throat infection, or an allergy attack, the tubes which connect the middle ears to the throat can become blocked or constricted, which stops fluid from draining from the middle ear. This fluid is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria or viruses to grow into an ear infection.

Symptoms usually start as a common cold, cough, runny nose and congestion, then may progress to:

  • Earache (either a sharp, sudden pain or a dull, continuous pain, fullness or pressure)
  • A sharp stabbing pain with immediate warm drainage from the ear canal
  • A feeling of fullness in the ear
  • Muffled hearing
  • Ear drainage
  • Tugging at the ear (especially with young children)
  • Poor sleep
  • Fever
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Ear drainage
  • Nasal discharge
  • Diminished appetite
  • Pain at night when lying down

In addition, nasal congestion or nausea may accompany or precede an ear infection, but are not necessarily symptoms of it.