Respiratory illnesses plaguing our area

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you've noticed almost everyone around you is sick, you're not alone. Respiratory illnesses are going around at a time when no one wants to be looking like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Doctors are diagnosing everything from the common cold to bronchitis and sinusitis and in more advanced cases, pneumonia.

Stories similar to Julie Hancock's are being told in physician's offices throughout Central Virginia.

"About two o'clock last night I started getting a really bad sore throat and just awful body aches and it's just gotten worse throughout the day," she lamented.

Hers is a common problem.

"Everybody at work is sick and they come to work sick, then we get sick," she said.

Dr. Kenneth Lucas with Patient First explained that's not the only reason.

"This is the time of year where the fall bugs have gone through the schools," he said. "Now they're going through the malls. People are out shopping, socializing."

And right now it feels like it's even more difficult to get rid of those bugs and go back to being healthy.

"Somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas people get on this mad roller coaster of working, shopping, partying," Lucas told NBC12. "They just get rundown and that just makes you more susceptible to whatever's out there."

It may seem simple but Dr. Lucas said the number one way to prevent getting sick is to wash your hands really well and repeatedly, especially if you're planning any holiday travel.

"Airports are crowded," Lucas explained. "You get on a plane. You feel like you're sitting on the guy's lap next to you. Somebody coughing can spread a few germs pretty quickly around something like that."

Hancock's Christmas wish is that whatever illness she's contracted won't put a damper on her holidays.

"That's why I'm here: to get some medicine and feel better," she said.

Some other doctor's orders include catch up on sleep and drink plenty of fluids.

Lucas said luckily at this point in the season, Patient First hasn't been seeing many cases of stomach bugs.

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