When we all move indoors — and the temperature drops outside — the rate of pesky illness goes way, way up! I’ll talk about colds, flu, and the stomach flu individually over the next few blog posts, but there are a few things to know before we start:
- Colds, bronchitis, laryngitis, flu, and stomach flu are all, generally, caused by viruses. Viruses can’t be treated by antibiotics.
- These can all develop into worse infections that are caused by bacteria (we call these secondary bacterial infections, essentially meaning that the virus weakened you and the bacteria took advantage of an easy target!). Other than the basics discussed below, there’s not too much that can be done to prevent a secondary bacterial infection. That said, when you feel like things have changed for the worse in the course of your illness, you should always reach out for medical evaluation.
- Those at both ends of the age spectrum are the most at-risk of developing complications from these illnesses, so keep a very close eye on the yong, old, and those with medical conditions if they’re sick. Reach out to their primary care doctor with any concerns.
- You can decrease your chances of getting knocked down by these bugs by washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes/mouth/face, eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising daily, quitting smoking, limiting your alcohol consumption, sleeping well, etc. All the good stuff you should be doing anyway :).
- Lastly: this isn’t officially medical advice, just a general FYI to give you a better understanding of what these nuisances of the cold-weather months are really all about. This advice generally applies to otherwise healthy people (i.e. not young kids, older people, or those with chronic conditions like heart disease, COPD, asthma, diabetes, etc.). If you’re sick or have any questions about these, ask your primary care physician for more info. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, we are always happy to bring on new patients!
Warning: I’m going to talk about gross stuff over the next few blog posts. Forge onward if you can handle it!