A common misconception persists that San Diego County doesn't have seasons. In fact, for those who have moved here from other locales — namely, the East Coast or Midwest — one may indeed wonder if there are "seasons" in Southern California at all.
Just don't mention that to anyone who works in urgent care.
"The trends in seasonal injuries and illnesses are very apparent to my colleagues and me," says Dr. Azi Shirazi, an urgent care doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy. "Consequently, we staff according to the expected number of patients we expect to see that month. Usually, that means more staffing during the flu season (mid-fall through early spring)."
For Dr. Shirazi, the reward in working in urgent care is that it allows her to reach out to a patient she has never met before, help them at a time when they are hurt and vulnerable, and then see the gratitude in their eyes.
Dr. Shirazi offers some important tips for patients coming to urgent care.
"Being informed is key to making better decisions," she says. "Check the Sharp Rees-Stealy urgent care website to see current wait times, locations and conditions we usually treat. Patients can also call Nurse Connection at 1-800-767-4277 to find out if an urgent care visit is needed or if they should be seen by their primary care physician or need to go to the emergency room."
As for the seasonal trends at urgent care, Dr. Shirazi notes that each season brings with it a unique, yet somewhat predictable, set of injuries and illnesses. She gave us a brief synopsis, season by season.
"Spring brings an uptick in allergy symptoms, and depending on the flu season we are experiencing that year, we may also see a lot of cold and flu symptoms," she says.
"In the summer, we see more skateboarding, biking, hiking and scooter injuries in children and young adults. As a result, lacerations and orthopedic injuries are very common," says Dr. Shirazi. "People also tend to eat out more in the summer, which means viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning are prevalent diagnoses."
"In the fall, we again see more allergy symptoms," she says. "With schools starting up again, we see an uptick in viral upper respiratory infections (URIs) among children and people in contact with small children."
"During winter, we see a lot of viral infections including cold and flu," says Dr. Shirazi. "We also see an increase in car accident injuries due to weather changes. And winter also brings an assortment of ski-related injuries."
The doctor also has some helpful tips on limiting the spread of infection.
"If you have a fever, that usually means you have a contagious illness," says Dr. Shirazi. "Therefore, we have implemented processes to protect patients and staff members from communicable diseases like flu, measles or chickenpox. When patients have a fever with respiratory symptoms or a rash, we offer them a mask and hand hygiene products, and request they wait in their car where a triage nurse or physician may do a brief assessment. When a room is ready, we call them and escort them directly into a private room. This allows the patient some comfort and helps protect our other patients waiting in our lobbies."
Sage (and seasonal) advice from an urgent care doctor.