We’re about to embark on what health officials are calling a “twindemic,” where we’ll face the overlap of the flu season and an increase in COVID-19 cases over the fall and winter.
Health Magazine reported that doctors are concerned with not being able to distinguish between the flu and COVID-19, as many of the symptoms are similar – cough, fever, chills, breathing problems, body aches, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose. Also, health professionals are worried about medical systems being overrun by patients coming in for both the flu and COVID-19.
It’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect your and your family’s health and keep everyone safe. Following are five actions you can take to do just that.
Get a flu shot
If there’s any year to get a flu shot, this is the year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting the flu shot ideally by the end of October to protect against this year’s strains or at least help the symptoms to be less severe. Make an appointment with your doctor or get your flu shot at a local pharmacy. Just be sure to wear your mask, avoid crowds and stay 6 feet apart.
Wear a mask
It’s critical to continue wearing a mask when out in public to protect against COVID-19 as well as the flu. Both illnesses can be transmitted through droplets coming from sneezing, coughing and talking. In addition, with the holidays just around the corner and the prospect of more families getting together, social distancing and meeting outside will be increasingly important. If any family members have pre-existing health conditions and/or are over the age of 65, it’s especially important to take such precautions.
Being in quarantine means we’re less active than normal. Even with working out several times a week, we still may be burning fewer calories and getting fewer steps. The lack of movement can cause other health problems and weaken the immune system as it struggles to protect against COVID-19 and the flu, especially when it comes to the upper-respiratory systems. Try to get up and move around the house and go out for walks as frequently as you can – weather and air quality permitting – in addition to your regular exercise regimen.
Open the windows
If the weather is favorable and the air quality is healthy, open the windows in your home to increase ventilation and rid your home of germs and bacteria that could put you at greater risk for COVID-19 and the flu. You also could run the air conditioning when the weather is still warm in the late fall if needed.
Eat balanced meals
Continue to focus on your nutrition to keep your immune system strong. Eat balanced meals consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy fats. Make sure to get extra vitamin C through citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and lemons, and take a supplement if needed. Stay hydrated and flush out toxins in your system by drinking plenty of water. Also check with your doctor if you have any dietary restrictions or concerns.
While it will be an especially challenging fall and winter season this year, we all have the ability to be proactive with our health and take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and safe.
Reena Vokoun is founder and CEO of the Los Altos-based Passion Fit, a health, wellness and fitness lifestyle company. Passion Fit offers fitness and dance classes via Zoom 9-10 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. For more information, visit passionfit.com.