As COVID-19 mutates from Delta to Omicron to another future strain, it’s important to consider that COVID-19 will likely be with us always—just like the common cold and influenza. These viruses don’t mutate the same way as the flu, but they are ever-present in the environment. No matter how quickly you change your clothes, no matter how many times you wash your hands, you will always be exposed to new strains of the cold, flu, and even COVID. After all, COVID-19 is transitioning from a pandemic to an endemic in Europe and will likely follow suit in the US.
With this reality in front of us, now is the time to make sure we are taking care of ourselves and our loved ones. Whether the virus is serious or mild, no one wants to get sick. Not only is this beneficial to prevent the spread of COVID, but it promotes a healthy lifestyle year-long. Consider these tips for staying healthy while keeping viruses at bay as much as we can.
Keep Cleanliness at Top of Mind
Viruses are everywhere and are transmitted by touch, depending on the type of virus in question. Any surface, from the air to our clothing and hands, can carry a virus or bacteria. The best way to keep these pesky invaders at bay is to wipe down all surfaces with an antibacterial wipe or cleaning solution. This includes your hands, phones, keyboards, countertops, and everything else you come in contact with throughout the day.
Does COVID-19 spread via contact surfaces? It’s not likely. During the early days of the pandemic, there was a major worry that COVID was spread through touching surfaces. However, studies reveal this isn’t the case. While the virus can live on surfaces for several days, it’s not very successful in terms of infecting people once it lives on a surface.
In terms of cold and flu, you can contract both from non-porous surfaces. However, time is of the essence. The viruses will dwindle away the longer they remain on the surface. For example, the common cold can live on a surface for 7 days but it is only infectious for about 24 hours.
Get a COVID-19 or Flu Shot
If you’re looking to protect yourself from illness, the COVID-19 or flu shot (or both!) should be on your radar.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu shot for everyone over 6 months of age. Both are recommended for people with HIV (and everyone else!), and they’re both available at Palm Harbor Pharmacy.
There are two types of flu vaccine: a shot, and a nasal spray. The shot is available as a single dose, or as a multiple-dose vial for use in a multi-dose injector. The nasal spray is available in a single-dose sprayer. The nasal spray is approved for healthy people ages 2 to 49 years old.
The CDC recommends you get the flu shot every year, between September and December.
The COVID-19 Vaccine
Despite the extreme controversy around the COVID-19 vaccine, it offers protection against severe variations of the illness. However, the COVID-19 vaccine is different from the flu vaccine.
Unlike the flu shot, the COVID vaccine does not contain the virus itself. Instead, it contains an altered form of the virus designed to provoke antibodies that may prevent infection.
While no shot can offer 100% protection against any virus, it’s another preventative measure to keep yourself healthy.
Understanding Symptoms of the Illnesses
If you get COVID, the flu, or the cold, do you know the symptoms of these viruses? While they are the same in some aspects, they are different in others.
If you get a cold, the symptoms are: Fever, Cough, Sore Throat, Nasal Congestion, Runny Nose, Headache and Body Aches.
If you get the flu, the symptoms are: Fever, Headache, Body Aches, Cough, Sore Throat and Fatigue.
If you get COVID-19, the symptoms are: A temperature of 38°C (100°F) or higher, Chest pain, Rapid pulse, Discomfort when breathing or swallowing, Slight sweating, Dizziness, Headache, Nausea,
Take Precautions if You Are Ill
If you suspect that you have a cold, COVID, or the flu, taking precautions can help you feel better faster. It can also help prevent the spread.
You should do the following as precautions for spreading viruses:
- Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap
- If you cough and sneeze, have a tissue on hand to cover your mouth and nose
- Throw the tissue away immediately when you cough or sneeze
- Be sure that you disinfect surfaces that you touch on a regular basis, such as doorknobs, keyboards, and phones with a disinfecting wipe or spray, especially for the flu and common cold
Avoid Close Contact with Other People
There’s a reason why social distancing was so important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Human-to-human contact is the most efficient way of spreading a virus.
- If you do come in contact with sick people, try to keep from touching them (even handshakes)
- Sick people shouldn’t share towels or eating utensils
- Sick people should try to avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.
- If you find yourself sneezing or coughing, try to turn away before you sneeze or cough to avoid spreading droplets into the air.
Do Not Touch Your Face
Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands by using tissues and sneezing into your sleeve. If you must touch your face, make sure your hands are clean by using hand sanitizer.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Did you know that adequate sleep can help boost your immune system? This is also true when it comes to fending off viruses. When you’re tired, you tend to be more susceptible to illness. If you’re feeling a cold coming on, it’s a good idea to go to bed earlier in order to have a stronger immune system.
Sleep is imperative for a healthy body and mind. Make sure you’re getting your eight hours every night. The time you spend sleeping is an important part of your daily routine.
Can proper hydration help fend off viruses? Yes, but only up to a point. Fluids don’t necessarily wash away germs, but they do prevent dehydration, which is associated with a variety of health problems. Hydrate may lower the risk of developing colds and other respiratory infections.
One reason is that your mucus membranes become too gooey when they’re parched, creating a perfect environment for viruses to invade your cells. Another reason is that dehydration increases your core body temperature, which activates your immune response. The bottom line: stay well-hydrated.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Can exercise help you stay healthy and fend off viruses? Exercise improves immune function by encouraging the production of many different types of white blood cells. These white blood cells will then fight infections. Exercise also increases the levels of antibody proteins in your body that fight viruses and protect you from them. And get this: exercise can even increase your body’s ability to produce interferons, which are proteins that directly inhibit the growth of viruses.
What to do if You Catch a Virus
Do you feel like you may have the common cold, flu, or COVID-19? The first thing you need to do is evaluate your symptoms and consider who you were in contact with recently. You also need to isolate yourself so others do not contract the virus that you have.
Yet again, make sure you do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth as this is a primary way to transfer a virus from yourself to someone else. Treating a virus If you have a virus, the best treatment is common sense and rest. Being active can only exacerbate the illness and make you feel worse, so staying in bed is the best approach.
If you think you may have COVID-19, call your doctor or pharmacy and inquire about COVID-19 testing. If you have been exposed to COVID-19, notify your doctor. If you experience symptoms of COVID-19, seek immediate medical attention. COVID-19 may be fatal if not treated promptly.
COVID-19 treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms, as well as other factors such as your age and underlying medical conditions.
Meanwhile, if you are experiencing the following symptoms, call 911:
– Extreme Abdominal Pain
– Chest pain or pressure that is extremely severe
– Extreme difficulty breathing
– Shortness of breath
– 90% or more dizziness
– Unbearable dizziness and nausea
Contact us for Flu/COVID-19 Shots, Testing, and More
Being sick and not knowing what you have is a scary feeling. We can give you peace of mind with flu testing as well as COVID-19 testing. If you are currently healthy and were not recently exposed to COVID-19, you may also get your COVID-19 shot or booster from Palm Harbor Pharmacy. As always, we are here to help you live a happy and healthy life. Contact us with questions or concerns relating to the flu and COVID-19.