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Winter Illness Guide

Winter Illness Guide

Winter’s approaching, and with the cold weather, winter’s bringing a host of illnesses with it. Each week, you probably notice more and more people around you sneezing and coughing. Common winter illnesses include influenza, bronchitis, the common cold, strep throat and pneumonia. Because all of these illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be easy to misdiagnose illnesses during this season. To help people avoid mixing up these illnesses, we have prepared a winter illness guide. However, the best way to avoid misdiagnosis is to visit us at AFC Urgent Care in Portland, Beaverton and Lake Oswego, OR.

The Common Cold

The common cold is a viral infection that affects the body’s sinuses. While the flu is also a viral infection that causes similar symptoms, the common cold is largely non-serious and goes away in just a few days. Unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for the common cold, as there are over 100 different cold strands. The average adult experiences 2-3 colds per year, as it is extremely infectious and enters the body most commonly through the nasal passages. 


Influenza is a viral infection that, while extremely common, brings much worse symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Coughing/Sneezing
  • Persistent Headache
  • Nausea/Vomiting (more prevalent with children)
  • Soreness in Muscles
  • Chills
  • Light-Headedness

Because people often confuse influenza with the common cold, many fail to understand how serious influenza can be. For people with weakened immune systems, including children and persons over the age of 65, influenza can be deadly. That’s why it’s important for everyone to receive a flu shot each year. Remember: you’re not just protecting yourself, your protecting the health of those around you. 

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is caused by the streptococcal bacteria. Most common in children, strep throat’s most recognizable symptom is a sore throat. This leads to many parents misdiagnosing their child’s strep throat as just a sore throat resulting from an innocuous common cold or persistent cough. Unfortunately, strep throat can lead to a number of complications that may lead to serious medical conditions, including Acute Rheumatic Fever. This makes it essential that you visit an experienced medical provider in case you or your child is suffering from a long-lasting sore throat. 


Bronchitis is an inflammation inside the bronchial tubes that is often caused by a virus, such as influenza. People suffering from bronchitis often experience frequent coughing that produces discolored mucus called ‘sputum’.  Other bronchitis symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Mild chest pain
  • Dry, hollow coughing
  • Mild Fever

Acute bronchitis describes a common, non-serious illness that many experience at some point in their lifetimes. Chronic bronchitis is what’s classified as a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which carries long-term effects and considerably distinguishes the quality of life for people (mostly smokers) suffering from this disease. 


Pneumonia, like bronchitis, is an inflammation. Yet unlike bronchitis, pneumonia occurs inside the lungs. This makes it considerably difficult to breathe depending on the severity of the inflammation. Pneumonia can be caused by both bacterial and viral infections. While pneumonia caused by bacterial infections often trigger worse symptoms, it can typically be treated using antibacterials. With viral-induced pneumonia, there aren’t any cures, yet it doesn’t have the potential to be as severe. 

Pneumonia symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Coughing/Wheezing
  • Chest Pain
  • Reduced Body Temperature

Instead of relying on internet diagnosis, visit us at any of our four convenient locations. For more information, call us at (503) 476-9872.