April 21, 2024

Tips for Staying Healthy during Cold, Flu, and COVID-19 Season

As winter arrives, bringing along its usual set of symptoms such as coughs, nasal congestion, fatigue, and fever, we are also confronted with the dominant COVID-19 variant. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is currently responsible for the highest number of hospital admissions among respiratory viruses.

Respiratory illnesses with symptoms like fever, cough, and more have been reported as high or very high in 25 U.S. states last week. However, this is a decrease from 37 states the previous week, as reported by the CDC.

Since October, there have been approximately 16 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalizations, and 11,000 deaths from the flu this season. Shockingly, 47 children have lost their lives due to flu-related complications.

The month of January tends to be the worst for these illnesses. With vaccination rates still low, it is essential to take steps to protect yourself from respiratory viruses, including influenza, COVID-19, and RSV.

Hand-washing is a crucial measure in reducing the spread of viral infections. It is recommended to spend at least 20 seconds at the sink, using soap and water. If you find it odd to sing Happy Birthday twice while washing your hands, simply count to 20 slowly. In situations where you do not have access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Wearing a mask in crowded places is another effective preventative measure. Additionally, ensure proper ventilation in both your workplace and home.

In the United States, only 17% of eligible individuals have received the updated COVID-19 vaccine that offers protection against the currently dominant JN.1 variant. It is not too late to get vaccinated. Moreover, it is advisable to get the annual flu shot and, for those aged 60 and older, consider getting the RSV vaccine, especially during pregnancy to prevent RSV in infants.

Parents of young children often find it challenging to avoid getting sick, as kids tend to be particularly susceptible to illnesses. During this time of the year, children are indoors in close proximity to others, touching common toys and surfaces. Some children have yet to learn proper coughing etiquette, and their immune systems are still developing due to limited exposure to various illnesses.

For parents or caregivers of young children, self-care is essential. Ensuring sufficient sleep, staying hydrated, and managing stress levels are all vital for maintaining a strong immune system. However, it is important to acknowledge the demands of taking care of young children and understand that despite our best efforts, they are likely to catch colds occasionally.

If your baby is sick, it is advisable to have saline drops and a bulb syringe at home. These can be used to clear mucus from their tiny nostrils. Gently administering a couple of drops of saline into one nostril and suctioning it out before repeating the process with the other side can provide relief. This can be particularly beneficial before meals and bedtime.

A home kit for children should include essentials such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fevers, tissues for runny noses, and water bottles or sippy cups to ensure hydration.

In case you do fall sick, prompt testing is crucial to determine whether you have COVID-19 or influenza. This information is vital in identifying the appropriate course of action, including the use of medications such as Paxlovid for COVID-19 and Tamiflu for the flu.

If you do not have a test kit at home, look for a nearby pharmacy clinic or health center offering test-to-treat services. Additionally, there are free home-based test-to-treat programs available for uninsured adults or those relying on government health insurance.

By following these preventative measures and staying proactive in our healthcare, we can strive to stay healthy and minimize the impact of respiratory illnesses during the cold, flu, and COVID-19 season.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it