With colder weather (not to mention the holidays) upon us, it’s more important than ever to maintain safe practices that can help keep us well. As we round out the year, COVID-19 combined with the flu season makes these habits even more important.
The experts at North Memorial Health remind us that it’s important we all do our part to help prevent the spread of influenza, COVID-19, and other contagious diseases in our homes, schools, stores, businesses, and anywhere we may gather, especially during the holidays. To help accomplish that goal, here are four practices that are vital to staying healthier this winter.
1. Get a flu vaccine
“Both the flu and COVID-19 affect the respiratory system and together they could have serious implications. While they carry a greater risk for our vulnerable and elderly populations, both can impact younger and healthy people as well,” says Patrick Loew, a physician assistant and family medicine practitioner with North Memorial Health. “Getting a flu vaccine greatly reduces both your chances of getting sick and spreading it to others.”
2. Consider virtual care appointments
Many primary care providers offer online appointments via video or by telephone. These visits can be just as effective as in-office appointments, and more convenient. Some of the problems that can be evaluated and treated by these virtual methods include, following up on a previous problem or visit, mental health concerns, monitoring chronic disease states, dermatologic concerns, and many more.
3. Screen yourself for symptoms
Healthcare providers like Loew emphasize the importance of doing a health self-screening as an everyday part of your routine. “Obviously if you’re not feeling well you should contact your healthcare provider but there are specific things you can screen for on a daily basis even when you’re feeling well,” says Loew. For example, check your temperature for a fever of 100 degrees or more. If there is no fever, consider if you have two or more of the following symptoms: cough, sore throat, headache, shortness of breath, muscle or body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, fatigue, congestion, or a runny nose. A new loss of taste or smell should also be monitored. If you have a fever or two or more of these symptoms present, you should consider contacting your healthcare provider even if you don’t feel that sick.
4. Stay vigilant about daily safety measures
It can be easy to let your guard down, but with flu season upon us it’s even more important to practice these safety measures:
- Wear a mask in public areas or anytime you’re in a large group of people.
- Practice social distancing by staying at least six feet (the length of a full-grown llama) away from others.
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
Making sure these health habits and safety practices are part of your routine can help keep you and your family safer and healthier this winter and help promote a happier, more enjoyable holiday season.
Find a doctor at northmemorial.com.