Caring for vulnerable people requires alertness to any threats to a patient's health. Due to their vulnerability, patients are more at risk of suffering from illness than a healthier or younger adult. Being able to spot an illness early is, therefore, essential.
Acute vs chronic illness is the most common question that arises when detecting an illness and it's important that you are able to determine the difference. An acute illness is defined as an illness where symptoms appear or change quickly. The health condition becomes chronic if it persists despite long-term treatment. The risk of chronic illnesses and diseases, which include heart disease, cancer and stroke, can be reduced through healthy eating. Diet and Nutrition Awareness training teaches carers how to reduce their patients' risk of developing a chronic illness or disease. Acute illnesses can range from mild to severe, and it's important to seek diagnosis and treatment at the first sign of it to prevent it from becoming a chronic problem.
Examples of acute illnesses and their treatment
You could develop one of the dozens of acute illnesses, but the most common ones include:
The term bronchitis refers to the bronchial tubes that become inflamed when you have this condition. These tubes deliver air to your lungs. Symptoms of bronchitis include a mucus-producing cough, wheezing, low-grade fever, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The acute type goes away after a few days, although a cough can last for several weeks.
When you have pneumonia, a virus, bacteria, or fungi causes an infection in one or both lungs. It presents many of the same symptoms as bronchitis with the addition of body chills. Treatment of pneumonia depends on whether you have the bacterial or viral type.
Also called sinusitis, a sinus infection means your sinuses have become inflamed. It typically starts as a common cold. Weakness, fatigue, fever, congestion, and a persistent cough are the most common symptoms. An acute sinus infection can last up to four weeks.
Pain when swallowing, visible white patches in your mouth, and swollen neck glands are the first indications you could have strep throat. Nausea, lack of appetite, headache, fever, and chills are additional symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for up to 10 days if your strep test comes back positive.
Acute illnesses have a shorter duration than chronic illnesses, but they can still make you feel unwell for a long time. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you can get back to your life.
Working as a carer, it is important to recognise acute illnesses when symptoms arise. Flexebee offers a range of courses relating to those in the healthcare profession. These include training for the Care Certificate and a variety of First Aid courses.