Two weeks to go and fall is here! What’s not to love about this beautiful season? Autumn is the most colorful season as it makes every lake look like an oil painting! And because it’s getting colder, you have more reasons to fill your tummy with your favorite comfort food. Most of all, there’s nothing like the smell of crisp air on the open road.
But then again, we can’t help to be worried about how the changing weather affects our health. Seasonal flu, common cold, and other viral infections can take over our family’s health, which makes this beautiful season less enjoyable.
Health Threats to Be Aware of During Autumn and How to Fight Them: Fall Health Tips
Last year, influenza season peaked in November and stayed active through January and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu easily spreads from person to person. Even without direct contact with a sick person, it is possible to contract flu by touching a surface infected with the flu virus and touching your nose or mouth.
What to do:
- The best way to avoid getting sick with seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year.
- As much as possible, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Always wash your hands and use sanitizing gel or spray.
- Use disinfectant wipes to clear germs on various surfaces, especially commonly used/touched ones like doorknobs, phone, toys, etc.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
A sore throat and runny nose are usually the first few signs of a common cold, often accompanied by a headache and body ache. According to CDC, adults have 2-3 colds per year and children can have more.
What to do:
Common cold can be avoided in the same way as flu. Add these tips to protect yourself even more:
- Take vitamin C. It helps strengthen your immunity against viral infections.
- Get plenty of rest, sleep and exercise.
- Stay away from people who are sick.
This is a common respiratory illness affecting children and infants. It is caused by a viral infection affecting the bronchioles – the tiny airways that lead to the lungs. Bronchiolitis can last for several days to weeks, sometimes up to a month and take a huge toll on your child’s health.
What to do:
- Have your kids wash their hands well often.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces.
- Breast-feed. Respiratory illnesses are less common in babies who are breastfed.
While this viral disease is more prevalent during the winter season, as the days get colder, everyone becomes more and more vulnerable. Also called “winter vomiting bug”, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Each year, norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses in the United States. Norovirus outbreaks can happen throughout the year, but they are more common starting November through April.
What to do:
- Practice proper hand hygiene.
- After someone with norovirus vomits or has diarrhea, clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces.
- Practice proper food handling. Wash whole produce properly before eating or cooking. Cook meat thoroughly.
Acute Ear Infections
The cold weather increases the risk of acute ear infections, especially in children. It is often caused by bacteria and usually begins after a child had a sore throat, cold, or other respiratory infection. Symptoms include ear pain (especially when lying down), difficulty in sleeping, lack of appetite, and fever. The risk of ear infections increases when the child is exposed to secondhand smoke.
What to do:
- Vaccinate your child against flu.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Avoid exposing your baby to cigarette smoke.
- Avoid allowing sick children to spend time together.
- Supply them with probiotics.
For most viral infections, treatments can only help alleviate the symptoms while you wait for your immune system to fight the infection. When you get a virus, you may not get sick of it. But if you have poor immunity, there’s a good chance that you will. Taking care of yourself is vital to preventing viral infections and other diseases that are triggered by changes in the weather. Eating nutritious food, getting a good amount of sleep, and exercising regularly is a must. Additionally, practice proper hygiene. Viruses and germs could be lurking anywhere in your home or on the door handles of the grocery store, public restrooms, chairs, etc. It’s important to remember that simple habits like washing hands regularly can significantly lower the risk of contracting a viral disease, whatever the season is.