How Sick Am I?
Currently, we are in what is commonly referred to as the“flu season.” The CDC estimated that between October 1 and December 23, 2023, more than 7 million of us already had the flu (see preliminary data here). The experts tell us that after all the isolation of COVID, as a whole our immune systems may have been weakened. And, in addition to the flu, colds seem to be on the rise, COVID has not gone away completely, and we are hearing more about RSV.
We thought that today would be a good time to review common signs and symptoms of these illnesses and offer some prevention methods to keep us working stronger and healthier as we start the new year.
All the four illnesses mentioned, colds, flu, RSV, and COVID, have a few symptoms in common, namely, coughing, a runny or stuffy nose, a sore throat, chills, a fever over 100, some wheezing, and the potential for loss of taste or smell. These similarities can make diagnosing your illness difficult.
While it is recommended to contact a health care provider if you are experiencing symptoms, you may decide to self-diagnose. Here are some differences between the symptoms:
· While colds, RSV, and COVID symptoms come on slowly, the flu symptoms happen quickly and more severely.
· The flu rarely affects your digestive system, so may not result in diarrhea or vomiting.
· The flu and RSV can give you muscle and body aches. You rarely get those pains with a cold or COVID.
What To Do Next:
· If you have a compromised respiratory system, are or have an infant, or are over 60 years of age and think you have RSV, contact your health care provider as soon as possible.
· Do what you can to not spread your illness too thers. Stay home. If you must go out, wear a mask.
· Take a COVID test. If you test positive, contact your health care provider regarding medication. Go here to get free COVID tests.
· Drink plenty of fluids.
· Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) for fever or pain.
It is always better to prevent being sick in the first place. The experts offer these recommendations:
· Get plenty of rest.
· Eat a well-balanced diet, and drink plenty ofhealthy fluids. Drink alcohol in moderation.
· When available, get vaccinated. Flu vaccinations are offered at no cost in many health care facilities and pharmacies. RSV vaccinations are recommended for at risk people. COVID vaccinations are available. Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccination for a cold.
Weekly Discussion Challenge:
Ask yourself and your coworkers what plans have been put into place to stay healthy. What can be done at your workplace to promote good health?