Help Yourself to Health This Fall: Your Toolkit

Posted on November 19, 2021

Category: Healthy Habits

It’s that time of year again. Do you sense it? The crunching leaves beneath your feet. The crisp cool air that always makes your throat slightly dry. The north wind that sends chills down your spine. That unceasing sound of sniffling noses that plagues the airwaves with coughs not far behind. That all-too-common fatigue that follows. Those chills that grow so intense that your muscles start to ache. And like the whipped cream on your hot coca going bad, your head spirals with a fever.

Yep. It’s definitely fall, and you definitely have the flu.

Leaves aren’t the only thing that come down this time of year. Our immune systems take a beating. But just because the flu has a homefield advantage around this time, that doesn’t mean you have to submit to the seasonal trappings. You can fight back. Or, at the very least, brace yourself for impact.

When Does the Flu like to Strike?

Cases of influenza pop up year-round. However, the virus spikes significantly in the fall, so that we’re running straight into its favorite season – and the fun really gets going deep into wintertime. You might as well compare it to infamous, fictional serial killer Michael Myers: It shows up around Halloween and attacks people with no mercy.

According to the CDC, influenza reaches its peak between December and February, but it can linger until late May. The overall impact of the flu isn’t consistent as it varies from season to season.

The most significant way the flu jumps from person to person is through tiny droplets produced by people [that have the flu] who cough, sneeze, or talk. A less-common way to get it is by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your own eyes, mouth, or nose.

But we know this. We’re not some slasher film victim who suddenly forgoes all common sense. Sometimes we neglect what we know because we know it all too well. It’s ingrained in our brains and we’re here to help jog your memory.

Just How Bad Can the Flu Be?

Have you gotten your flu shot?

It’s an all-too-familiar question that echoes around this time of year. Over time, we can grow numb to that echo and to the idea of what ramifications it can have. With enough care, the flu can resolve itself. For certain groups of people, it can prove to be dangerous and even deadly:

  • Children under 5 years old
  • Adults older than 65
  • Nursing home residents
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weak immune systems
  • People with a 40 or higher BMI
  • Those with chronic illnesses:
    • Asthma
    • Heart Disease
    • Kidney Disease
    • Liver Disease
    • Diabetes

The best measure you and these groups can take would be to get a flu shot annually. It’s not 100% effective, yet it’s still the best defense.

But it’s not your only defense.

Healthy Habits to Keep You Flu Free

From regular checkups to basic hygiene, there are simple yet effective ways to keep safe from the flu. There are even some that you might already be doing but not recognize.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. The mouth is the biggest, most-common area germs and bacteria like to invade. It’s also where most of your own germs come from and potentially infect others. Keeping it clean is pivotal.
  • Get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Your body is fighting off germs every day the same way you fight off the urge to skip out on a day of work. It needs rest so it can perform to its highest potential.
  • Drink water and do some moderate exercise. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly. Follow that up with eating healthy foods like fruits and veggies so your body can recruit the right nutrients and minerals to help join the fight.
  • Wear a mask. We know you’ve heard that one before. It’s not only useful for COVID-19 defense, but it can help in the case of any illness.

That last point brings another question to light:

How Does COVID-19 Affect Flu Season?

If you get the flu, you become immunocompromised and heighten your chance to contract COVID-19. According to most experts, flu season is easy to handle due to most of the population having developed herd immunity. With COVID-19 in the mix, and with more people following the recommended CDC guidelines, fewer flu cases were reported in 2020.

However, since the COVID novelty has worn off for many Americans in the recent months, more people are letting their guard down. Which also re-opens the door for the flu. When you don’t take proper precautions regularly, you open yourself up to the worst-case scenario.

It is possible to have both simultaneously. In fact, it makes the flu even tougher to self-diagnose due to each illness exhibiting similar symptoms (fever, cough, chills). Getting tested will be beneficial.

If you haven’t already, right now is the perfect time to get a flu shot. It’s a simple, effective way to protect yourself. Luckily, if you’ve got health insurance, you can get one for free at most pharmacies and clinics. If you don’t have insurance Sioux Falls Urgent care offers flu shots for $30.

What to Do When You’ve Got the Flu.

If you have the flu, an option for treatment is antiviral drugs. They’re best to take soon after you’re diagnosed up to two days later. They help lessen the fever and symptoms and can actually reduce the length of your sickness by a full day. They also can prevent potential ear infections, respiratory complications, and hospitalization.

If you find that you fall into the higher-risk group, it’s best to consult with a doctor at Sioux Falls Urgent Care.

What if you’re a pregnant adult?

Oseltamivir is suggested for treating someone who is pregnant with the flu. It’s been tested repeatedly and has the most studies available to prove safe. Baloxavir isn’t recommended due to the lack of proven safe data.

Don’t Let the Flu Bug You This Fall Season

With how many people fall victim to it, the flu can make you feel like you’re living in a horror movie. But this is real life. Real people are smarter than those fictional victims that fall prey. We take the right steps, rid ourselves of the clichés and fight back.

Daily activities like brushing your teeth and wearing warmer clothing can keep you safe. It also doesn’t hurt to be more proactive and exercise regularly, quit smoking, or create a healthy bedtime schedule for yourself. If that isn’t enough and you find yourself with the flu, make an appointment with Sioux Falls Urgent Care and talk with a doctor about how to further treat your illness.