Can you tell the difference between flu vs. strep vs. COVID-19? Cold and flu season is in full swing, and COVID-19 cases are rising once again. Knowing what symptoms to look for when you first start feeling sick can help. Read on to learn the key factors to consider when determining which illness you have and what to do.

Strep vs. COVID-19 and Other Illnesses


Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can cause severe throat pain, swollen lymph nodes, fever and white patches on the tonsils. Strep will not typically include other cold and flu like symptoms, like a runny nose or cough. Strep throat can be specifically tested for and is easily treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics will help prevent a serious but rare problem called rheumatic fever and reduce the time you are contagious. About 10% of sore throats in adults are caused by strep.


COVID-19 is a viral illness caused by the novel coronavirus that produces many symptoms including Sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, persistent cough, and headache. If you are experiencing these symptoms – you can start with a home test. If this is negative, repeat the test 24 to 48 hours later. If your test is positive and you have risk factors for severe COVID, please contact us right away to schedule an appointment to discuss Paxlovid. Paxlovid must be started within 5 days of symptom onset.


The flu is another viral illness that is similar to the common cold but much more severe symptoms. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference because the flu affects your nose, throat, and lungs and has many of the same symptoms as a cold. The flu is commonly diagnosed with a rapid antigen or diagnostic test. Antivirals are available but they must be given within 2 days of symptom onset and only shorten symptoms by about 12-24 hours.

Sinus Infection

Many of the symptoms of a sinus infection are the same you’d experience with a bad cold. They include: postnasal drip (that thick mucus in the back of your throat), discolored nasal discharge (green, yellow or brownish mucous coming out of your nose), stuffy nose or nasal congestion and tenderness or pain in the face – usually under the eyes or around the nose. You can also have headaches, tooth pain, coughing from the post nasal drip, fever, fatigue, a bad smell in your nose or a bad taste in your mouth and bad breath. Most sinus infections are viral, however if your symptoms are lasting more than a week, please make an appointment as antibiotics may be necessary.


Pneumonia is a secondary infection in the lungs that can cause high fever, chest pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and cough. It’s usually caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses like COVID-19. Pneumonia is usually diagnosed with a chest X-ray to look for inflammation in the lungs and is commonly treated with antibiotics.

How Can I Avoid Getting Sick?

You can help prevent illnesses by:

  • Wearing a mask in public.
  • Stay up to date with vaccinations
  • Practicing good hygiene, using hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol, and disinfecting surfaces.
  • Ensuring you’re taking good care of yourself and addressing any underlying conditions.
  • Not touching your face, eyes, or mouth.
  • Steering clear of anyone who is sick, whether it’s strep vs. COVID-19.

Whether you are just beginning to consider expanding your family, want to plan for the future through egg freezing, or have struggled with fertility issues for some time, it can be empowering to understand the impact that diet and healthy-weight can have on fertility outcomes.

Dietary patterns focused on plant-based and anti-inflammatory foods are associated with improved fertility [1]. For example, try filling at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose healthy monounsaturated fats instead of saturated and trans fats, and make at least half your grains whole. 

Along with healthy eating, it is important to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. For women who are considered overweight or obese based on a BMI greater than or equal to 25, weight-loss may improve fertility. In addition to a balanced diet, moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week can aid in meeting this goal.

For more information on foods for fertility and creating a personalized eating plan, schedule a visit with our Registered Dietitian and lactation consultant, Holly Murphy, MS, RD, LDN, IBCLC.

[1] Panth, N. et al. The Influence of Diet on Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States. Front Public Health. 2018. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211

Uterine Cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the United States. About 65,950 new cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. The incidence and  the mortality rate have been increasing since 2007. This rise in uterine cancer rates is attributed to the rise of obesity. Obesity is the leading risk factor for uterine cancer. It is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 55 and 64.There are 2 main categories of uterine cancer. 97percent are endometrial cancers ( a cancer that forms in the lining, also called the endometrium ,of the uterus) and 3 percent are sarcomas. This article concentrates on  the more common endometrial cancer.

Risk factors for the development of uterine cancer are influenced by hormones. Starting menstruation before the age of 12, never having a pregnancy or giving birth  for the first time after the age of 30, and late menopause all expose the body to estrogen for a longer period of time and raise the risk for uterine cancer development. Lynch syndrome, also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is an inherited disorder that can be passed from parent to child and is associated with  a genetic predisposition to different cancer types including uterine cancer.  Women who are positive for BRCA1 gene mutation  are at a higher risk for uterine cancer.The use of Tamoxifen for breast cancer patient treatment has about a 1 in 500 risk , obesity (a BMI >30) and increasing age are all risks. Diabetes, chronic anovulation  ( having four or less menstrual periods in a year before starting perimenopause), PCOS, and estrogen replacement therapy after menopause given without adequate progesterone,and diets such as a high glycemic index diet, high saturated fat intake, proinflammatory diets and high meat consumption are all risks for uterine cancer formation. A family history of uterine cancer increases the risk in 1st degree relatives.

Alcohol intake has no known risk for uterine cancer. Postmenopausal women who smoke cigarettes have a decreased risk of developing uterine cancer (although cigarettes contribute to formation of other cancers).The use of aspirin has been shown to decrease the risk of uterine cancer particularly in obese women.  Pregnancy is protective, as is the use of contraceptives like progesterone containing IUDs and the use of oral contraceptive pills ( the longer you take the pill in your lifetime the greater the benefit with 4 years of pill taking cutting the risk of uterine cancer in half) . Tubal sterilization decreases the risk as well as maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.

Common symptoms of uterine cancer are postmenopausal bleeding, bleeding between menstrual periods, and pelvic pain or pelvic pressure. There is no screening test for uterine cancer. Consult a gynecologist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

The diagnosis of uterine cancer occurs with a physical exam, pelvic ultrasound and a biopsy of the uterus ( endometrial biopsy).

Uterine cancer is treated in a number of different ways including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.


Everyone has heard of the “Morning-After Pill,” but there are actually a few options to prevent an unplanned pregnancy following unprotected intercourse or a contraception failure.

  • PlanB One-Step is the most widely used pill. It delays ovulation which prevents sperm from coming into contact with an egg. It is not an abortion pill and will not affect an established pregnancy. It can be taken up to 5 days after intercourse, but should be taken as soon as possible. PlanB, if taken within 5 days, is 95% effective in preventing pregnancy. Plan B works best in women under 165 pounds. It can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription but some insurance plans do cover it. We can send a prescription to your pharmacy without an appointment. Send a message through the Patient Portal if you require a prescription. You may experience some unexpected bleeding after taking PlanB, but that is normal.
  • Ella (ulipristal) is also an emergency contraception pill that can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse and has the added benefit of making it more difficult for an egg to attach to the uterine wall. It is more effective than Plan B if you have to take it days 3-5 after unprotected intercourse and works better in women over 165 pounds. It is only available by prescription, which we can write without an appointment. Send a message through the Patient Portal if you require a prescription. You may experience some unexpected bleeding after taking Ella, but that is normal.
  • The most effective form of emergency contraception is to insert the copper IUD (Paragard) within 5 days of unprotected intercourse. This has the added benefit of providing birth control for up to 10 years. The Paragard IUD requires approval from your insurance so contact them right away if this is the emergency contraception you desire.

All of these methods are safe and have been approved by the FDA. None of the emergency contraception options affect future fertility or the ability to carry a healthy pregnancy in the future.

*PlanB and Ella are less effective in women taking Tegretol and Topamax. Contact our office right away to discuss the Paragard should you need emergency contraception and are taking these medications.

If you’re one of the 50 million Americans who suffers from allergies, your symptoms may bloom when the seasons shift. Itchy, watery eyes, a tickly throat, and a stuffy, runny nose can make you dread spring. Seasonal allergies — also called hay fever and allergic rhinitis — can make you miserable. Try these simple strategies to keep seasonal allergies under control.

Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers

To reduce your exposure to the things that trigger your allergy signs and symptoms (allergens):

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Delegate sweeping, weed pulling and other outdoor chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Wear a mask if you do outside chores.

Take extra steps when pollen counts are high

Seasonal allergy signs and symptoms can flare up when there’s a lot of pollen in the air. These steps can help you reduce your exposure:

  • Check for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels at
  • If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
  • Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.

Keep indoor air clean

There’s no miracle product that can eliminate all allergens from the air in your home, but these suggestions may help:

  • Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
  • If you have forced-air heating or air conditioning in your house, use high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules.
  • Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
  • Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
  • Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.

Try an over-the-counter remedy

Several types of nonprescription medications can help ease allergy symptoms. They include:

  • Nasal sprays. The intranasal corticosteroids, Nasacort, Flonase, and Rhinocort, are the most effective OTC medications for the treatment of nasal allergy symptoms. A downside to them is that they will not work on an as-needed basis. Intranasal corticosteroids take time to work. They may begin to give relief to allergy symptoms after about six to 10 hours, but full relief may not be obtained for three to six weeks with daily use.
  • Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy) and fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy).
  • Decongestants. Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol, others) can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Decongestants also come in nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine). Only use nasal decongestants for a few days in a row. Longer-term use of decongestant nasal sprays can actually worsen symptoms (rebound congestion).
  • Combination medications. Some allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Examples include loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D) and fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D).

If these measures don’t work, please schedule an appointment.

Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. This year, more than 145,600 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and more than 51,000 will die of the disease.

With certain types of screening, this cancer can be prevented by removing polyps (grape-like growths on the wall of the intestine) before they become cancerous. Several screening tests detect colorectal cancer early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated.

Colorectal cancer is linked to getting older. However, colorectal cancer in adults younger than 50 is on the rise. Even so, it’s seen more in people age 50 and over.

Other risk factors include having—

  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
  • A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).

Lifestyle factors that may contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer include—

  • Lack of regular physical activity.
  • A diet low in fruit and vegetables and whole grains.
  • A diet high in red meat (such as beef, pork or lamb) or processed meat (such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs or cold cuts).
  • Are overweight or obese, especially for those who carry fat around their waists.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Smoking.

Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms, especially at first. Someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer is so important.

Symptoms, may include—

  • Blood in or on your stool (bowel movement).
  • Change in bowel movements.
  • Stools that are more narrow than usual.
  • Stomach pain, aches, bloating or cramps that don’t go away.
  • Losing weight for no apparent reason.
  • Feeling tired all the time.
  • Vomiting.

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer. The only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.

Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Such polyps can be present in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops. They may not cause any symptoms. Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. In this way, colorectal cancer is prevented.

Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when there is a greater chance that treatment will be more effective. Start screening at age 45 if you’re at an average risk, but if you have certain risk factors you may need to start screening sooner or get screened more often—talk to your health care professional. Continue screening to age 75 if you are in good health, with a life expectancy of 10 years or more. if you are ages 76-85, talk with your health care professional about whether to continue screening. After age 85, you should not get screened.

Screening Guidelines

Stool DNA Test (sDNA)* Every 3 years
Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)* Every year
High-sensitivity Fecal Occult Guaiac Test (gFOBT)* Every year
Colonoscopy Every 10 years
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Every 5 years
Virtual Colonoscopy* Every 5 years

*Follow up a positive test with a timely colonoscopy.

Research is underway to find out if changes to your diet can reduce your colorectal cancer risk. Researchers are studying the role of diet in preventing colorectal cancer, but much still needs to be understood. Generally, experts encourage eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat for a healthy diet.


American Cancer Society (ACS). (2019) “Cancer Facts & Figures”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019) “What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer?”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019) “What Are the Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?”  

It’s important to understand how your health plan covers different kinds of drugs so you won’t be surprised by unexpected costs at the pharmacy counter. Where you get your prescriptions filled can also affect how much you pay for drugs.
To get the highest level of prescription drug coverage, be sure the pharmacy you choose is in your plan network and your drugs are covered. Plans vary, so be sure to sign in to your member account to see your plan network and the list of drugs your plan covers.

What prescriptions do health plans cover?

Not all health plans cover the same prescription drugs. Your health plan has a list of all the drugs it covers, called a formulary. If you need a drug your plan doesn’t cover, you will have to pay more — possibly the full price — out of your own pocket.

You may also have to share the cost of some covered drugs with your plan. How much you pay depends on the type of drug and the tier the drug is in.

How to save on prescription drugs:

There’s no question that prescription drugs can be costly even when they’re covered by your health plan. Here’s how you can save money without putting your health at risk:

Start with generic. If your medication is available as a generic, try that first. In Pennsylvania, if a generic exists, the pharmacist will automatically dispense the generic unless “brand necessary or dispense as written” is noted on the prescription.
Check the plan formulary. If your drugs aren’t listed, ask your doctor/nurse practitioner for a similar drug your plan will cover. Formularies can change throughout the year. Be sure you’re looking at the most up-to-date formulary or contact your plan to find out if your medication is covered.
Find a pharmacy in your plan network. You’ll pay more for prescriptions you have filled at pharmacies that are not preferred or in your network. Check with your plan to find an in-network pharmacy near your home or work.
Use a mail order pharmacy for drugs you take on a regular basis. You may be able to save money when you use a mail order pharmacy for medications you take for chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Your prescription drugs will be sent directly to you by mail.
Ask for 90-day prescriptions for chronic medications. If you are on a stable dose of a chronic medication, ask for a 90-day supply. Co-pays are often lower for 90-day supplies.
Talk with your doctor/nurse practitioner. If you find it difficult to manage the cost of your prescription drugs, ask about alternative medications that may cost less. We may be able to help with discount cards/ patient programs for brand medications
Take medicine as directed. Taking your drugs only half the time or taking just half the dose to save money can put your health at risk and lead to bigger bills down the road.

Making refills easier

Ask your pharmacist to put your medications on auto-refill and sign up for refill reminders. When your prescription is due for a refill, the pharmacist will automatically process the refill, and you will receive a reminder.

Note:  Prescriptions for non-controlled drugs are generally valid for 1 year after the date it was written. Schedule III and IV controlled substances cannot be filled or refilled more than 5 times or more than 6 months after the date the prescription was issued, whichever occurs first. Schedule II prescriptions (stimulants and narcotics) cannot be refilled.

The United States Congress designated January as Cervical Health Awareness Month. More than 14,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer each year, but the disease is preventable with vaccination and appropriate screening.

During January, NCCC and its many local chapters across the country highlight issues related to cervical cancer, HPV disease and the importance of early detection. While NCCC chapters host events throughout the year, January is a month with a special focus as chapters celebrate Cervical Health Awareness Month and work to spread the word in their communities.

NCCC and the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) also offer a range of resources (listed below) to educate the public and healthcare providers about cervical health, from fact sheets to episodes of ASHA’s Sex+Health podcast.

What Can You Do?

As someone who is interested in educating and advocating for increased knowledge of cervical cancer and HPV disease, you can do a lot. You can contact your local media to encourage coverage of Cervical Health Awareness Month, offering this ASHA/NCCC press release. You can also send this proclamation to your mayor, or local legislative office to publicly recognize Cervical Health Awareness Month.

You can also check out the resources on this page—download, display and distribute our cervical cancer awareness month posters and help NCCC and ASHA get the word out on social media.


HPV vaccines can help prevent infection from both high risk HPV types that can lead to cervical cancer and low risk types that cause genital warts. The CDC recommends all boys and girls get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12 as the vaccine produces a stronger immune response when taken during the preteen years. For this reason, up until age 14, only two doses are the vaccine are required. The vaccine is available for all males and females through age 45 but, for those 15 and older, a full three-dose series is needed.


A Pap test can find cell changes to the cervix caused by HPV. HPV tests find the virus and help healthcare providers know which women are at highest risk for cervical cancer. Pap and HPV tests (either alone or in combination) are recommended for women over 30: each woman should ask her health care provider how often she should be screened and which tests are right for her.

Take Part in a Clinical Trial

Clinical trials for cervical and other cancers can be of tremendous value but how do you find one that’s right for you? Our page on research studies gets you up to speed and links you to opportunities.

Promote Cervical Health on Social Media

You can help NCCC promote the importance of cervical health and cervical cancer prevention by sharing prevention messages throughout the month that cervical cancer is preventable!

Twitter logo
Faceboom logo
  • January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. Visit NCCC to learn more. Get involved and make a difference!
  • During Cervical Health Month in January ASHA is offering a free download of the fact sheet Ten Things to Know About HPV. Get yours today.
  • During Cervical Health Month in January you can download free posters and more from NCCC. For more go to NCCC. Get involved, make a difference!
  • Not one single woman ever needs to die from cervical cancer. We have the tools we need to prevent this disease so let’s use them. Get involved. Make a difference! Visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition online

Visit this link for downloadable content:


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


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