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How to avoid getting sick this winter ... and what to do when it inevitably happens

300 dpi 2 col x 3.25 in / 96x83 mm / 327x281 pixels Chris Ware color illustration of sick little boy and his teddy bear tucked into bed with a thermometer, tissues and a book. Lexington Herald-Leader 2005___KEYWORDS: krtflu krtinfluenza krtcoldflu influenza illnesskids cold teddy bear tissues thermometer children child flu sick sickness runny nose sneeze sneezing temperature fever symptoms krthealthmed krtnational national krtworld world krtcoldflu krthealth health krt aspecto aspectos salud illustration joven osito felpa ilustracion grabado gripe estornudar enfermo mareado lx contributor coddington ware 2005 krt2005
300 dpi 2 col x 3.25 in / 96x83 mm / 327x281 pixels Chris Ware color illustration of sick little boy and his teddy bear tucked into bed with a thermometer, tissues and a book. Lexington Herald-Leader 2005___KEYWORDS: krtflu krtinfluenza krtcoldflu influenza illnesskids cold teddy bear tissues thermometer children child flu sick sickness runny nose sneeze sneezing temperature fever symptoms krthealthmed krtnational national krtworld world krtcoldflu krthealth health krt aspecto aspectos salud illustration joven osito felpa ilustracion grabado gripe estornudar enfermo mareado lx contributor coddington ware 2005 krt2005 KRT

Dr. Carmen Teague is the Director of Internal Medicine with Carolinas HealthCare System and has been at Mecklenburg Medical Group for 12 years. Her no-nonsense advice may keep some of us from getting sick this season:

(1) Wash your hands 100x a day and carry hand sanitizer with you. Germs are everywhere, but be especially careful with doorknobs and elevators.

(2) Planes and trains are a petri dish of germs. If you have to travel, Dr. Teague says, “Be a geek and wear a mask. Inevitably someone will be coughing.”

https://twitter.com/colleenglenney/status/664793548613644288

(3) Don’t share a beverage. Despite the common belief that alcohol kills germs, Dr. Teague says, “You are not safe. Slobber is slobber.”

(4) Avoid sick people. Dr. Teague recommends telling co-workers and friends to stay home and curl up in their fuzzy PJs and rest on the couch.

(5) Be sure your baseline health is good. Eat healthy (remember your fruit, veggies and grains) and exercise 4 times a week for 45 minutes.

In a perfect world, we would all follow Dr. Teague’s advice and stay healthy all season. If you are one of the unlucky, here are a few places that may be able to help you.*

*Check for hours of operation before visiting a location. Calling your insurance company ahead of time to determine costs and coverage is recommended.

Carolinas HealthCare System Urgent Care

Hours: Monday-Sunday, 8 a.m.- 8 p.m.

Costs: Costs vary based on insurance and tests performed

Wait time: May be checked here.

Appointment: “Reserve your spot” available at some locations, otherwise walk-ins welcome

Insurance: Most major insurance carriers accepted.

Mecklenburg Medical Group

Hours: Daytime hours with weekend and extended evening hours available

Costs: $150-200

Wait time: Varies

Appointment: Yes for all locations. Uptown clinic on College Street takes walk-ins.

Insurance: Most major insurance carriers accepted.

Photo 1 MMG map
MinuteClinic at CVS

Hours: Weekdays, evenings and weekends.

Costs: Office visit is $89-99 for minor conditions.

Wait time: Call ahead for a wait time check.

Appointment: No. All clinics are walk-in.

Insurance: Yes. Most major insurance carriers are accepted.

Novant Health Express Care

Hours: Daytime hours with weekend and extended evening hours available.

Costs: Costs vary based on insurance and tests performed.

Wait time: Varies, but typical wait time is less than 30 minutes.

Appointment: No. All clinics are walk-in.

Insurance: Most major insurance carriers accepted.

Novant Health Urgent Care

Hours: Daytime hours with weekend and extended evening hours available.

Costs: Costs vary based on insurance and tests performed.

Wait time: Various, but typical wait time is less than an hour.

Appointment: Hold My Place reservations available.

Insurance: Most major insurance carriers accepted.

Virtual Visit

Carolinas HealthCare System setup a Virtual Visit demonstration for me. We pretended to have an issue and followed the steps on the site to get to a nurse practitioner or physician assistant.

Photo 2 Credit Olivia Normandin

Most common medical issues seen on Virtual Visit are sinus, colds, coughs, skin conditions and UTI. You do not have to be a CHS patient, but you do have to be in North Carolina at the time of the visit. After seeing the demo, I would definitely use it for a sinus infection or cold.

Hours: 24/7.

Costs: $49.

Wait time: 5 minutes.

Appointment: No.

Insurance: Accepting BCBSNC only.

App: Apple App Store and Google Play.

Photo 3 Credit CHS

Dr. Teague said that 98% of most colds and flu are viruses and cannot be helped with any amount of antibiotic. Over the counter medications like decongestants and expectorants will help with symptoms, but rest and listening to your body is most important.

If after 7-10 days you are not feeling better, a trip to one of the places above may be a necessity.

Illustration: Chris Ware/MCT. Photo: Olivia Normandin.

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