Sore Throat? Know the Facts.


What Is It?

A sore throat, also known as pharyngitis, is a painful inflammation of the back part of the throat (pharynx). Pharyngitis can involve the following parts of the throat:

  • the back third of the tongue
  • the soft palate (roof of the mouth)
  • the tonsils (fleshy tissue that is part of the throat’s immune defenses).

Viruses and bacteria are the most common causes of a sore throat.

Most throat infections (90%) are caused by viruses. In regions that have warm summers and cool winters, viral pharyngitis typically peaks during the winter and early spring. During these seasons, people are more likely to gather in poorly ventilated rooms. The viruses that cause this infection spread easily through the air in droplets from coughs, sneezes and runny noses.


Simple viral pharyngitis is usually uncomfortable with no long-lasting problems. Nonviral pharyngitis is usually caused by bacteria. The most common cause being group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (aka strep throat).

Untreated strep throat can lead to serious complications, such as glomerulonephritis (a kidney disorder) and rheumatic fever (a potentially serious illness that can damage heart valves). A strep infection also has the potential to spread within the body, causing pockets of pus (abscesses) in the tonsils and in the soft tissue around the throat.


The main symptom of pharyngitis is a pain to the area affected.  In infectious pharyngitis, other symptoms vary depending on whether the infection is viral or bacterial (usually strep throat):

Viral pharyngitis —a sore throat is often accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • A red throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Dry cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Children may have diarrhea.Some viruses cause painful sores in and around the mouth, including the lips.

Strep throat — Strep throat and other forms of bacterial pharyngitis cause sore throat, pain with swallowing and a red throat. These symptoms tend to be more severe with Strep throat compared to viral pharyngitis. Other symptoms that often occur with Strep throat include:,

  • Fever
  • Body ache and a general sick feeling generally sick feeling
  • Headache
  • Enlarged tonsils with white spots
  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes (swollen glands) in the front of the neck.
  • Children also can have nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

It can be difficult to differentiate viral and bacterial pharyngitis because they share many symptoms and may look similar on physical exam by your doctor.

A sore throat that lasts for more than a couple of weeks may be caused by acid reflux from the stomach, breathing through the mouth in a dry environment, postnasal drip or, rarely, a tumor.


After reviewing your symptoms, the doctor will ask if you might recently have been exposed to someone with strep throat or any other infection involving the throat, nose or ears.

After recording your temperature, your doctor will examine you, paying particular attention to your mouth, throat, nose, ears and the lymph nodes in your neck. If your doctor is quite sure that you have strep throat, he or she may prescribe antibiotics without further testing. If there is some uncertainty, the doctor may want to do a strep test.

A rapid strep test is done in your doctor’s office, takes only a few minutes to do and detects 80% to 90% of all cases of strep throat. If this quick test is negative, but your doctor still believes you might have strep, your doctor will take a sample of your throat fluids for more intensive testing in a laboratory. Results will be available in 24 to 48 hours.

Expected Duration

If you have simple viral pharyngitis, your symptoms should go away gradually over a period of about one week. If you have strep throat, your symptoms should subside within two to three days after you begin taking antibiotics.


While it’s impossible to prevent all infections, you can help to decrease exposure and spreading:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose or after caring for a child with a sore throat.
  • If someone in your home has pharyngitis, keep his or her eating utensils and drinking glasses separate from those of other family members. Wash these objects thoroughly in hot, soapy water.
  • If a toddler with pharyngitis has been chewing or sucking on toys, wash these objects thoroughly in water and disinfectant soap, then rinse well.
  • Promptly dispose of any dirty tissues from runny noses and sneezes, and then wash your hands.
  • Do not allow a child who has been diagnosed with strep throat to return to school or daycare until he or she has been taking antibiotics for at least 24 hours and symptoms have improved.



Viral pharyngitis is treated with supportive care, things to make you more comfortable. Antibiotics do not kill viruses. Bacterial pharyngitis caused by strep infection is treated with antibiotics.

  • Getting plenty of rest (either in or out of bed)
  • Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin (in adults only) to relieve throat pain
  • Drinking plenty of water to prevent dehydration
  • Gargling with warm, salt water to ease throat pain
  • Drinking warm liquids (tea or broth) or cool liquids or eating gelatin desserts or flavored ices to soothe the throat
  • Using a cool mist vaporizer to relieve throat dryness
  • Using nonprescription throat lozenges or anesthetic throat sprays


When To See a Medical Professional

Call your doctor promptly if you have a sore throat along with any of the following symptoms:

  • Painful swallowing that prevents you from drinking water or other clear fluids
  • Difficulty breathing through your mouth
  • Noisy breathing or excessive drooling
  • Fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit

Also, call your doctor if you have any type of throat discomfort that lasts for more than two weeks.

Don’t wait until Monday; Get to the ER!


Oftentimes, people associate visiting the Emergency Room with debt. The thought of paying high fees out of pocket or high deductibles may keep people from making the trip. Other times, people are just more comfortable with having their Primary Care Physician diagnose their condition. Medical emergencies and urgency can happen anytime, and most happen outside business operating hours when your Doctor’s office is closed.

When a condition is not severe enough for one to call 911, or the doctor’s office is closed people tend to browse online resources, such as Web MD, in efforts to self-diagnose. Others fall into the habit of taking pain killers and “waiting it out until Monday”. If your condition is preventing you from sleeping at night, or can become more severe the longer it goes untreated, you need to get to the ER!

Truth be told, conditions can end up costing much more if left untreated or under-treated. The average copay for an ER visit of an insured patient costs $50- $150. Certainly worth every penny for being able to sleep comfortably through the night.  Standalone 24/7 Emergency Rooms such as Lifesavers ER in Willowbrook Texas, have doctor’s priority courtesy lines that are available 24/7, making it convenient to discuss conditions with the doctor before making the trip to the facility. So whenever you have a minor medical emergency, don’t wait until Monday!

Do you really need a Flu Shot?

Flu season is approaching. And the question remains whether a flu shot is necessary. If you are a health professional or work in a school, absolutely! But for others whose work environment may be low-risk for illnesses and cold symptoms, getting a flu shot is still highly recommended. The common reason doctors see patients in the months of November to March are due to cold-related symptoms. Those who have other pre-existing illnesses are at a greater risk of complications if they get the flu. All in all, Flu shots not only protect you but those around you.

When is the flu vaccine available?

Because the flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, its availability depends on when production is completed. Manufacturers generally distribute flu vaccines between August and October until all vaccine is distributed. Doctors and nurses are encouraged to begin vaccinating people as soon as the flu vaccine is available in their areas. It takes up to two weeks to build immunity after a flu shot, but you can benefit from the vaccine even if you don’t get it until after flu season starts.



Why do I need to get vaccinated every year?

New flu vaccines are released every year to keep up with rapidly adapting flu viruses. Because flu viruses evolve so quickly, last year’s vaccine may not protect you from this year’s viruses. After vaccination, your immune system produces antibodies that will protect you from the vaccine viruses. In general, though, antibody levels start to decline over time — another reason to get a flu shot every year.

The Appendix


Image Source: DailyHealthPost

The appendix is a small worm like structure or “appendage” located at the beginning of the large intestine. It has no definite function in humans so it is regarded as a remnant from our evolutionary past. Some theorists believe it acts as a store house of good bacteria however surgical removal of appendix does not show any observable health problems. Its narrow lumen makes it susceptible to blockage. Once blocked, bacteria grows rapidly and cause inflammation of the appendix called appendicitis. The appendix can become swollen and filled with pus, sometimes leading to rupture and spread of bacteria in the abdomen.

Symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Abdominal pain (may initially developing around the navel, then moving to the right lower abdomen
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Possibly diarrhea or constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal bloating

*The site of abdominal pain may vary depending on your age and position of your appendix.

If you or your family member develops these symptoms, you should be seen in an emergency room immediately to confirm the diagnosis. Appendicitis is considered a surgical emergency because it can rapidly progress and be a potentially life threatening infection.

Appendicitis is a surgical problem that will need to be treated with surgical removal called an appendectomy. Your doctor will provide intravenous (IV) antibiotics as well as pain medication while other tests such as an ultrasound or a CT scan are being done to confirm the infection and prepare for surgical removal.

 At Life Savers Emergency Room, we are fully equipped to diagnose appendicitis with our on site laboratory and CT scanner. We have radiology services on call 24/7 as well as surgical specialists on call for your care. 

Diabetes: Basic Facts



What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that affects the way the body turns sugar into energy.

How the Body Turns Sugar into Energy

The food we eat is made up carbohydrates, protein and fat.  The body changes all of the carbohydrates and some of the protein and fat into a sugar called glucose when we eat.  (Glucose is the energy the cells of the body needs to work).  The glucose is absorbed into the blood and then travels into all the body cells.

The pancreas is an organ just next to the stomach that makes a hormone called insulin.  Insulin is released by the pancreas help move sugar/glucose from the blood into the cells.  The cells keep this glucose for immediate use of energy or store it for later use.

What happens when you have diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the body either does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin properly.  This results in sugar that stays in the blood, unable to enter the cells and provide the body with the energy it needs.   The high level of sugar in the blood can result in serious injury to the body.


What are the types of diabetes?

Three types of diabetes are the most common.

Type 1 diabetes

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not MAKE insulin. Sugar levels become very high as it is unable to enter the cells. This is known as high blood glucose or hyperglycemia. Most often childrenand young adults get Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

In Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still makes insulin. However, the insulin is not effective. This is also known as insulin resistance. The resulting problem is the same, with high blood glucose or hyperglycemia.

People who tend to get Type 2 diabetes are:

  • Overweight or obese people
  • People with a family history of diabetes
  • People who have had a baby with a birth weight over 9lbs
  • Certain races
  • African Americans
  • Hispanics
  • Asians
  • Pacific Islanders
  • Native Americans

Diabetes during pregnancy

Pregnant women may develop gestational diabetes due to insufficient insulin production during pregnancy. After delivery of the fetus, gestational diabetes goes away. Unfortunately, some women may develop diabetes after pregnancy.

Secondary diabetes

This is when high blood glucose can be a result of other diseases or medications. Some chemotherapy drugs and psychiatric medications can result in this. Steroids can also cause this problem.  Secondary diabetes is usually treated with insulin, a sound nutrition plan, and monitoring. This condition usually resolves once the medicationsare stopped.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Increased thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Passing water (urinating) often
  • Cuts or sores that don’t heal well

 A person with Type 2 diabetes may have some or none of these symptoms.  

Diagnosing Diabetes

Blood glucose tests are the main way to learn if you have diabetes. Normal glucose level is 70-99 mg/dL after fasting. After eating, blood glucose can be high but rarely over 200mg/dl.

The American Diabetes Association lists the following ways to tell if a person has diabetes:

  • A person has symptoms of diabetes and a high blood glucose level (200 or higher) on a blood glucose test.
  • A person has a fasting blood glucose level of 126 or higher. For a fasting blood glucose test, the person does not eat or drink for at least 8 hours before blood is taken.
  • A person has a blood glucose level of 200 or higher after drinking a special sugar solution. This test is called an oral glucose tolerance test.
  • A person has an A1c level of 6.5% or higher (this test shows the estimated average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months).


Your doctor may repeat a test to confirm a diagnosis of diabetes unless diabetes is clear based on other signs and symptoms.

If You Have Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you should try to get and keep your blood glucose level as close to normal as possible. It’s good to have a blood glucose level between 70 to 130 during the day before eating. At bedtime, the goal is to have blood glucose at 110 to 150. The goal for A1c is less than 7%. Ask your doctor what your personal goals should be.

If You are at Risk for Diabetes

Sometimes a person has blood glucose higher than normal, but not high enough to have diabetes. This condition is called impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance. The person does not yet have diabetes, but is at risk for getting diabetes. This is sometimes called prediabetes. If you have this condition, ask your doctor what to do about your blood glucose.


Colds and Cough Time! How to get you and your family through the cold season



It’s that time of the year again! You can feel the tickle in the back of your throat, the slight discomfort of a stuffy nose and you’ve diagnosed the problem. You have a cold! A cold usually includes a runny nose, sore throat, coughing, mild headache, watery eyes, body aches, and sneezing.

The “common cold” can be caused by over 200 virus, with the most common being the rhinovirus. These viruses often cause a runny nose first as they infect the nose and sinuses. The nose makes a clear mucus that can be contagious.  The mucus also helps wash the germs from the nose and sinuses, which is great!  The mucus can turn yellow or become thicker as your immune system works to fight against the virus. The mucous can also turn green as the bacteria that live in the nose grow and change the color. This does not mean you have a new or worse infection and may not be an indication for antibiotics.   To treat a runny nose, first watch and wait. A soft cloth to wipe the mucus is helpful.  A cool mist vaporizer or salt water nose drops may help you or your child feel better.  As these are viral infections, antibiotics will not help you feel better.

Most colds will resolve on their own within 10 days. You should see a doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Temperature greater than 100.4 degrees F
  • Symptoms lasting over 10 days
  • Symptoms not relieved by over the counter medications


Your doctor will be able to determine if the cold is on its way to resolution or if you need medications to support you through the symptoms you have. Antibiotics are always considered if there is concern for a bacterial infection.  Antibiotics not needed to treat a cold or runny nose as these are caused by viruses.

Why not just try an antibiotic? Unfortunately, every time your body is exposed to an antibiotic, the bacteria that normally live on your body (on the skin, intestines, nose, mouth, etc) have a higher chance of becoming resistant to antibiotics. There is also always a risk of side effects that may result in rashes, diarrhea, stomach pain, allergic reactions and organ damage.

So what is the good news? The common cold is usually resolves within 7-10 days.

What can you do to feel better?

  • Rest! Rest! Rest!
  • Drink Fluids
  • Use a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer
  • Take ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen for body aches or fever
  • Over the counter medications such as decongestants, pain relievers, nasal saline sprays are extremely helpful. Remember to always follow the instructions for use on any medication.  Not all OTCs are recommended for younger children.


All You Need to Know about Concussions

With football season starting, concussions are more top of mind than ever. Here's what you need to know.

A concussion is type of traumatic brain injury (TBI).  It is usually caused by blunt blow or violent shaking to the head that causes the brain to move back and forth rapidly.  This sudden movement of the brain can cause damage of the brain cells and create chemical changes in the brain.

Concussions are very common, especially during contact sports activities.  The brain is well protected inside the skull, however, a blunt head trauma may cause the brain to slide back and forth against the inner lining of skull. The brain tissue being extremely delicate may be distorted causing the signs and symptoms of concussion. It leads to alteration of brain function that is usually temporary. The duration of symptoms may vary from days to years. In the majority of cases, symptoms resolve within days.

Symptoms of concussion may include:

  • Brief (<30 sec) loss of consciousness
  • Appearing dazed
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Blurring of vision
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of memory of events surrounding the trauma (Amnesia)


Some delayed and longer lasting symptoms may include

  • Personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Depression and other psychological problems

Symptoms may be subtle and often times difficult to judge in children especially young children who may not be able to communicate how they feel. In young children, the following signs may be present after a brain injury:

  • Listlessness
  • Loss of interest in playful activities
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Drowsiness and increased sleepiness
  • Excessive crying
  • Change in eating or sleeping patterns

Potential complications of a concussion include:

  • Seizures
  • Post-concussion syndrome. A collection of symptoms including headaches, dizziness, mood swings, personality changes, fatigue, and thinking difficulties that develop a few days after a concussion.
  • Post-traumatic headaches. Headaches that occur a few days to weeks after a concussion has occurred.
  • Post-traumatic dizziness.
  • Second impact syndrome. This is caused by experiencing a second concussion prior to the brain’s recovery from the first concussion and may result in rapid, often fatal, brain swelling.

It is important for anyone who has had a brain injury to be evaluated by a medical doctor. A cranial computed tomography (CT) scanis the test of choice performed in the emergency room.

It is important that the brain be allowed to rest after an injury has occurred. Sports activities should be avoided as well as any vigorous activity.  Activities that would require a significant amount of focused attention should be minimized including schoolwork, video games, texting, and TV.

What to Know About Acute Bronchitis

What is acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is an infection of the tubes that carry air from the mouth and nose to the lungs also known as the bronchial tree. Once infected, these tubes swell and mucous forms. The swelling makes breathing difficult and may also result in wheezing.

What causes acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by viruses that infect the bronchial tree. These same viruses can cause infections to the throat and nose. Viruses attack the lining of the bronchial tree, causing damage. As your body fights back against these viruses, more swelling occurs and more mucus is made. Even after the body kills off the viruses, damage caused by the virus may last longer than the infection.  Anything that causes further damage to the bronchial tree, such as cigarette smoking, will lengthen the time it takes for you to get better.


How do people get acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is spread from person to person by coughing or from touching surfaces that has the virus. The viruses that cause the infection are sprayed into the air or onto people’s hands when they cough.

Acute bronchitis is more likely to develop in lungs that are damaged or unhealthy from things such as smoking cigarettes or being around damaging fumes.  People who smoke are more likely to have longer lasting symptoms.

What tests can tell my doctor if I have acute bronchitis?

There are no tests to prove that you have acute bronchitis. An X-ray may be obtained to make sure you don’t have a more serious condition.

How is acute bronchitis treated?

Acute bronchitis is caused by viruses, so antibiotics (medicines that kill bacteria) are not helpful. Mucous that is colored or thick does not mean antibiotics are necessary. Antibiotics probably won’t help you get better any faster.

An inhaler may help in some patients to expand the bronchial tree and ease breathing.

Smoking plays a major harmful role in lung function and should be stopped or cut down if you have bronchitis.

What special problems can occur with acute bronchitis?

Sometimes the cough from acute bronchitis lasts for several weeks. The cough can even drag on for months. Usually this happens because the bronchial tubes are taking a long time to heal. However, the cough may also be a sign of other problems.

Acute bronchitis can be confused with asthma. If you continue to wheeze and cough, especially at night or when you are active, you could have mild asthma. If your cough and wheezing problems drag on, your doctor may want you to take some breathing tests to check for asthma.

Pneumonia and acute bronchitis can sometimes cause similar symptoms. If you have a high fever, feel very sick and weak, and continue to cough, you should call your doctor. You may need to have a chest x-ray to check for pneumonia.

Bronchitis can also be caused by acid coming up from the stomach and dripping into the lungs when you sleep. If your cough continues and you sometimes have a bad-tasting fluid come up into your mouth, you should see your doctor. Medicines can reduce the acid in your stomach, which may help your cough go away.

When should I see my doctor?

If your cough is causing wheezing and breathing problems, dysfunction in your daily life or sleeping habits, you should see a medical professional to assess for other causes of cough.

How can I keep from getting acute bronchitis again?

If you smoke cigarettes, stop smoking.  Smoking damages the bronchial tree and makes it easier for viruses to cause infection. Smoking also slows down the healing time, so that it takes longer to get well.

  At Life Savers Emergency Room, we are fully equipped to diagnose appendicitis with our on site laboratory and CT scanner. We have radiology services on call 24/7 as well as surgical specialists on call for your care. For contact give us call on 8322934968.