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What Conditions Can Online Doctors Treat?

What Conditions Can Online Doctors Treat?

With the advent of new communication technologies, online doctor consultations have become a viable option for those seeking urgent and primary care services that are not emergencies. However, many potential patients might be wondering what online doctors can help with. Let’s take a look at some of the most common conditions that online doctors treat.

What Conditions Can Online Doctors Treat?

Here are some of the top online prescriptions you can get from an online doctor:

There are many more conditions online doctors can treat, below we've provided a comprehensive list of primary and urgent care conditions that online doctors can treat.

Primary Care Conditions:

Urgent Care (non-emergency) Conditions:

Not every treatable condition is listed, so even if you don't see yours, an online doctor likely can still help! Read on to see what conditions online doctors can't treat.

What Online Doctors Can’t Treat

Online doctors can’t treat injuries that require in-person mending. For instance, they can’t treat a sprained ankle or broken bone, which could require x-rays, setting, and stabilization with a cast.

They also cannot prescribe medications that would require in-person examinations, including controlled substances such as:

  • Medicinal marijuana
  • Antipsychotic medications such as Zyprexa, Risperdol
  • Stimulants, including Adderall and Ritalin
  • Narcotics, like morphine, oxycodone, and Vicodin
  • Sedatives and sleep aids including, Xanax, Ambien, Ativan, and Lunesta

Now lets take a closer look at some of the conditions most commonly treated by online doctors.

Urinary Tract Infections

The urinary tract is your body’s drainage system for removing wastes and excess fluids from your body in the form of urine. The tract comprises of your two kidneys, two ureters, your bladder, and your urethra. Any of the components in your urinary tract can become infected. Generally, the higher the infection travels, the more serious it is, though most urinary tract infections affect the bladder and urethra.

Urinary tract infections are caused by the presence and spread of foreign bacteria in the system. About 90 percent of urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli, a type of bacteria that normally resides in the colon and around the anus. The most common symptoms accompanying urinary tract infections include:

  • Painful or burning urination
  • More frequent urination but with only small amounts of urine
  • Urine that is cloudy, dark, discolored, bloody, or bad-smelling urine
  • Pain/pressure in the lower back and abdomen
  • Shakiness and general fatigue

Chills, fever, flank pain or nausea and vomiting  suggest the infection has spread up into the kidneys, resulting in a possible kidney infection. Also known as pyelonephritis, atypical symptoms such as pain in the upper abdomen (epigastric pain) has also been described by patients with a kidney infection.

Antibiotics are the usual treatment for urinary tract infections, though your online doctor may also prescribe medication to help you manage the pain and discomfort. You should also drink plenty of water to help flush the bacteria out of your system.

To read more about UTI treatment online, click here.

To book an appointment with an online doctor for UTI treatment, click here.

Sinus Infection

Any fluid that enters your sinuses can generally drain out of your nose or down the back of your throat. However, when your sinuses become blocked or obstructed, the fluid can build up. The warm, moist and dark environment makes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. This can result in a sinus infection.

Colds and sinus infections often go hand in hand, exhibiting many of the same symptoms. Like colds, sinus infections are frequently caused by viruses.  Infections that are prolonged may however be complicated by bacterial infection and require additional intervention, usually antibiotics.

The symptoms of sinus infections can vary, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Congestion
  • Headache
  • Pressure and pain in your face and eyes
  • A thick, yellow mucus discharge from your nose
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • A cold that won’t go away

Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat the infection and reduce symptoms. Antibiotics can effectively treat sinus infections which are thought to be caused by bacteria.  Antihistamines and decongestants can help reduce the inflammation and blockage in your sinuses and nasal passages. If your symptoms don’t improve, you may require long-term antibiotic treatments or even surgery.

To read more about sinus infection treatment online, click here.

To book an appointment with an online doctor for sinus infection treatment, click here.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is an infection of the throat by the bacteria known as group A Streptococcus (GAS). While it can affect people of all ages, strep throat is most common in kids aged 5 to 15. Group A Streptococcus is highly contagious and can be spread by coughing and sneezing. You can also contract the bacteria by sharing utensils with someone who is infected or touching a door knob, phone, or surface that has the bacteria on it.

The severity of  symptoms differs from person to person, but the most common symptoms include:

  • A sore throat with white patches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Painful swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • A fever usually higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit

These symptoms become apparent within the first five days of exposure to the bacteria.

Strep throat can successfully be treated using antibiotics, that can slow down the spread of the bacteria. Amoxicillin and penicillin tend to be the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for strep throat.

To read more about strep throat treatment online, click here.

To book an appointment with an online doctor for strep throat treatment, click here.

Bronchitis

Bronchitis refers to an infection of your bronchi, which are the tubes that carry air to your lungs. The most common symptom of Bronchitis is coughing that produces mucus, also known as a productive cough. This can be accompanied by:

  • A sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Aching in your back and muscles
  • Sneezing
  • General fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

Antibiotics generally aren’t recommended unless you have chronic bronchitis. With acute bronchitis, there is a much higher risk of antibiotic resistance with minimal benefits. Treatment normally aims at soothing your throat and managing discomfort.

To read more about bronchitis treatment online, click here.

To book an appointment with an online doctor for bronchitis treatment, click here.

Pink Eye

Pink eye, medically known as conjunctivitis, is an infection of the outer membrane of your eyeball. This causes blood vessels in your conjunctiva, the thin membrane lining your eye, to become inflamed, causing the characteristic pink or red color.

Pink eye is most often caused by either bacteria or a virus. Bacterial pink eye is usually caused by the same bacteria responsible for staph infections and strep throat. Viral conjunctivitis is more often caused by the same virus that leads to the common cold. Both viral and bacterial pink eye are highly contagious and can be spread via direct contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. Pink eye can also be caused by allergens like pollen.

The most common symptoms of pink eye include:

  • Eyes with a pink or red tone
  • Feeling grittiness in your eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Discharge that builds up in your eyes especially at night
  • An abnormal amount of tears or crying

Treatment for pink eye depends on the underlying cause. Bacterial conjunctivitis can easily be treated using antibiotics, eye drops, or topical ointment. There is currently no treatment for viral conjunctivitis, though the infection should go away on its own within 7 to 10 days.

To read more about pink eye treatment online, click here.

To book an appointment with an online doctor for pink eye treatment, click here.

Ear Infections

There are outer, middle, and inner ear infections, each last a different amount of time. Middle ear infections are the most common, the middle ear is comprised of various parts and components behind the eardrum. The Eustachian tubes which are behind the ear drum provide pressure regulation in the middle and inner ear.  These tubes run from each ear to the back of the throat. When one or both of these Eustachian tubes becomes blocked or swollen, fluid begins to accumulate in the middle ear and is unable to drain properly. Eustachian tubes can get blocked by:

  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Sinus infection
  • Smoking
  • Excess mucus production
  • Swollen or infected adenoids (these are masses of tissue near your tonsils that are responsible for filtering harmful bacteria)

Some of the most common symptoms of ear infections include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Ear discharge
  • Feelings of persistent pressure inside the ear
  • Mild discomfort and pain inside the affected ear

Most ear infections clear up without the need for medical intervention, but if you experience consistent discomfort or if your symptoms don’t improve or get worse, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics, which should effectively cure the infection.

To read more about ear infection treatment online, click here.

To book an appointment with an online doctor for ear infection treatment, click here.

Stomach Flu

Despite the name, the stomach flu isn’t actually related to the flu at all. It’s the common name for viral gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines caused by a virus. Acute gastroenteritis is defined as diarrhea (3 or more times a day) of rapid onset that lasts less than two weeks. It may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever, or abdominal pain.

The stomach flu can affect just about anyone of any age. It is highly contagious and can easily spread via contact with those who are infected or through ingestion of contaminated water or food.

The stomach flu can be caused by one of several viruses. Rotavirus tends to be the most common among children and infants, who may then spread it to adults. It most commonly enters your system orally. Norovirus is another common cause of stomach flu. It is often spread via contaminated food, water, and contact with contaminated surfaces.

The symptoms of the stomach flu generally occur one to two days after getting infected and last for up to 10 days. The most common symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Aching joints and muscles
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Clammy skin
  • Cramps and abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

As antibiotics have no effect on viruses, your doctor will likely prescribe over-the-counter medications to soothe symptoms and manage discomfort. Most treatments center around preventing dehydration by taking plenty of fluids and electrolytes.

To read more about stomach flu treatment online, click here.

To book an appointment with an online doctor for stomach flu treatment, click here.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, fungi, or virus. The infection leads to inflammation of the tiny air sacs found throughout your lungs called alveoli. When the alveoli become infected they fill with fluid, which hampers breathing.

Some common symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Dry coughing and wheezing
  • Aching muscles
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath

Treatment for pneumonia depends primarily on the cause. Bacterial pneumonia is most commonly caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and can be treated using antibiotics. Although antibiotics are ineffective with viral forms of pneumonia, your doctor may still prescribe medications to treat the condition.

To read more about pneumonia treatment online, click here.

To book an appointment with an online doctor for pneumonia treatment, click here.

Online doctors can treat just about any urgent or primary care health condition. Many also offer STD testing, screenings, and treatment. If you want to speak with an online doctor or learn more about how online doctor appointments work, book an appointment with PlushCare today.

PlushCare takes content accuracy seriously so we can be your trusted source of medical information. Most articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.D.s, NPs, or NDs. Click here to meet the healthcare professionals behind the blog.

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Dr. Umer Khan

Dr. Umer Khan

Medically reviewed by Dr Umer Khan, MD who is a Board Certified physician practicing in Pennsylvania. His special interests include wellness, longevity and medical IT.

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