Fall has arrived, and with it come seasonal allergies. To top it off, flu season is also just around the corner. Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, we still have to deal with seasonal sicknesses.
Anyone with allergies knows it was already tough enough to distinguish between a cold and something less serious. The flu kills between 12,000 and 61,000 people annually, so it has always been vital to diagnose it.
Now we have COVID-19 to add to the mix, so we have a few ways to help you prepare for the upcoming cold & flu season.
- Make sure you are up to date on your vaccines.
During a pandemic, these immunizations are more critical than ever. The CDC recommends that this year everyone older than six months get vaccinated against influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia. These are two respiratory illnesses that are common in the winter months.
Talk to your doctor to see if there are other immunizations that they recommend. These vaccines are especially important because they help keep health resources available. If fewer people are sick and in the hospital, the more resources that remain available to treat COVID-19.
- Treat your allergies early.
Don’t wait for symptoms to show. Start taking your antihistamines and steroidal nasal sprays every day instead of waiting.
Keep in mind that allergies do not cause a fever, a common symptom of the flu or COVID-19.
- Keep a thermometer at home.
The first step in determining whether it is allergies or sickness will be checking your temperature. A true fever is a temperature above 100.4 degrees.
If you do have a fever, don’t panic. Your doctor may tell you to rest, drink fluids, and monitor your symptoms. Viruses, not bacteria, cause both COVID-19 and the flu, meaning antibiotics won’t treat them.
- Continue to social distance, wear your mask, and wash your hands.
The colder weather means you will find yourself indoors with others more often. It’s expected that coronavirus cases will increase with the change of season.
Cold air may make your nose run, but so can COVID-19. Continue to wear your mask regardless so that if it is more than the cold weather causing your runny nose, you won’t spread anything.
Even if your allergies make you sneeze, you should still wear your mask. Propulsive sneezes are just another way that the virus spreads. Mask wearers, even ones with asthma, COPD, head colds, COVID-19, or the flu, can still get plenty of oxygen when wearing a mask.
When it comes down to it, ask your physician for help if you are uncertain. Many doctor’s offices will now offer a telehealth appointment, so all you’ll have to do is pick up the phone. Or, check out the CDC’s Coronavirus Self Checker.
If you don’t have an established relationship with a primary care provider, now would be a good time to start. It can be beneficial to have a clinician who already has all of your history when you call.
Remember: Wash your hands and don’t panic.