Written by Jeremy Albert
Now that the fall season has arrived, it is no surprise that days are becoming a little shorter, leaves are beginning to change to beautiful hues of red and orange, and pumpkin-spice everything has infiltrated store shelves and menus. However, despite the beauty, crisp air, and smells that come with fall, we also need to begin being proactive against the rising rates of respiratory illness. Flu, the common cold, and COVID-19 become of particular concern during the fall and winter months, but there is no need to fear! Taking a few practical precautions and following these simple steps can help alleviate some associated risks and keep you healthy throughout the season.
- Keep hydrated and eat a balanced diet
It should come as no surprise, but maintaining a healthy diet keeps our bodies functioning optimally. A balanced diet of each food group ensures our bodies’ immune system operates on all cylinders. If we get sick, it aids in our immune response and ability to recover faster. Moreover, staying adequately hydrated is equally important in the fall and winter. Beyond keeping you healthy longer, maintaining an adequate level of water consumption helps support the function of our cells and organs, supporting a healthy functioning immune system. Further, while some of us may partake in the occasional adult beverage to cure our seasonal blues, it is important to drink responsibly and limit alcohol consumption where possible.
- Ensure proper hand hygiene
If we could see what lives on our hands, we would almost certainly spend more time throughout the day washing them. With the recent pandemic, hand sanitizer stations have become more prevalent in places we visit. While utilizing hand sanitizer in our daily travels helps reduce and kill certain germs, it is also essential to ensure that washing your hands with soap and water is a part of your daily hygiene rituals. Hand washing removes germs such as norovirus, cryptosporidium, and Clostridioides difficile more effectively. You can get more information about the ins and outs of hand washing through the CDC’s website here.
- If you’re sick, stay home
Being sick is singularly the best reason to play hooky. I get it; work isn’t going to get itself done, and the guilt of possibly burdening others with increased work due to our absence may be increased. However, when illness strikes, it is vital to take the time to recover and initiate some self-care. Not only does rest improve recovery time from infection, but it also helps curve the spread of illness throughout those we come in close contact with. Further, if you need to be around people while ill, wearing a mask properly could help reduce the spread of illness to others.
Carlow University’s Health and Counseling Services clinic will be offering vaccinations for both annual flu and COVID boosters on October 18th and November 16th. Registration links will be forthcoming, so ensure you are keeping an eye out for further information. For more tips and advice on protecting yourself from flu and other viruses, visit the CDC website here.
Jeremy M Albert, NRP
Jeremy is a current senior in the Healthcare Management program at Carlow University, and a nationally registered Paramedic in the Pittsburgh region.