According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seasonal flu activity is high across the country. Yet, that’s not the only issue people are dealing with, because there are also many cases of COVID and common respiratory viruses that send people to urgent care centers. Some are referring to the triple threat as being a tripledemic season. People must know how to protect themselves this winter.
“It’s getting serious to the point that pediatricians are calling for people to think about alternatives of where they should go for help, and to try and avoid ERs and overcrowded urgent cares,” says Jim Riggen, co-founder of LX Medical, a mobile health care provider.
The CDC reports that so far this flu season has resulted in nearly 9 million people contracting it, 78,000 hospitalizations, and 4,500 deaths. In addition to getting vaccines to help ward off such illnesses, there are other things people can do to increase their protection.
Here are ways to protect yourself this winter from flu, respiratory virus infections, and COVID:
- Avoid having close contact with those who are sick. If there is no other option, wear a mask, and be sure to do the other prevention tips as well.
- Learn some self-triage, including purchasing a pulse oximeter, so the information can be reported to medical professionals through telemedicine appointments and over the phone. Knowing how to take basic vitals can be helpful. Also, treat fevers that are over 100.4, make sure to stay hydrated, assess overall energy levels, and track the progress of any illness. It’s important to know if there is improvement in symptoms.
- Keep hands clean by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Make it a goal to avoid touching the face with hands that have not been washed.
- Always cover up coughs and sneezes to keep the germs from spreading. This can be done with a tissue, arm sleeve, etc.
- Keep surfaces cleaned that are frequently touched, such as doorknobs.
- Aim to keep your immune system healthy by eating healthy, exercising, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of rest.
- Watch out for red flags and if they are present, call for medical care. They include being lethargic or not responding as usual, having a rapid breathing rate, a low urine output, and the inability to take in liquids or solids for any reason.