After months of unfamiliar restrictions and guidelines, pandemic fatigue is affecting how some Americans protect their health. However, experts warn that diligence is still extremely important because new mutations and variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are being discovered. The typical cold and flu season also brings added threats to people’s health and wellness.
“Staying diligent is one of the most important things we can do as we navigate through cold and flu season as well as the COVID pandemic,” said family medicine physician Dr. Jennifer Caudle.
Though you may still be spending more time at home, it’s important to take proactive steps to maintain your health. Caudle offers these practical tips to help protect your health while you’re waiting for vaccination eligibility amid the pandemic this cold and flu season.
As COVID-19 continues to impact communities from coast to coast, there’s no better time to avoid getting sick. Even if you catch a less serious illness like a cold or the flu, health care professionals in many areas are stretched thin. What’s more, getting sick could compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to a more serious infection.
Minimizing your risk of exposure means limiting close contact with others outside your household, wearing a mask and washing your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds. An alcohol-based sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol can substitute for hand-washing, if necessary.
Staying healthy isn’t just about avoiding germs. Managing your physical health means keeping your body in top condition by eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep and ditching habits that can negatively impact your body, like smoking and excess drinking. It’s also important to monitor your mental health since factors like stress and depression can take a physical toll that impacts your body’s immune response.
If you get sick, it’s important to pay close attention to your symptoms. However, this cold and flu season brings a unique variable with the possibility that your symptoms may actually stem from a mild case of COVID-19. Weather may also fuel stronger than usual allergy responses, so distinguishing between cold, flu, COVID-19 and allergy symptoms can be especially tricky. Testing may be necessary to get the proper diagnosis and ensure you’re taking the right precautions to prevent the spread of any infection. If you have questions or concerns about your symptoms or about COVID-19, consult your health care professional.
Depending on your diagnosis, a health care professional may suggest medication to help treat symptoms until your illness runs its course. There are a variety of products available over the counter that are commonly used to treat symptoms of respiratory viral infections. Many provide relief from multiple symptoms in a single dose. For example, an option like Mucinex DM lasts 12 hours when used as directed and contains dextromethorphan, which helps to control cough, and guaifenesin to help thin and loosen mucus.
You can identify the right formula to provide relief based on symptoms you are experiencing by using the online tool at Mucinex.com, where you can also find more information regarding self-care remedies.