When everyone resumes school and activities and the weather changes, it can mean a peak in several common illnesses. It might feel like someone in the house is always sick! But there are a few things you can do to help keep you and your family healthy in the face of COVID-19 and common fall illnesses. Keep reading about fall illnesses and contact your healthcare provider to make sure your family is up to date on all recommended vaccinations.
Illnesses that typically peak in the fall include:
- Influenza viruses start circulating in the fall and can peak in the fall or winter months.
- Common colds. Colds are viral infections, usually caused by rhinovirus.
- Strep throat. Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria streptococcus and is widespread in children.
- Bronchitis is an infection of your bronchial tubes and can occur after a viral illness.
- Allergies to ragweed and mold spores tend to peak in the fall months.
- Norovirus can cause stomach inflammation and is extremely contagious.
- Ear infections. Ear infections tend to occur with or after other illnesses such as the cold and flu, and are more common in children.
Tips for Prevention
Get your COVID-19 booster and the annual flu vaccines. Talk to your healthcare provider about when you are due for your booster, and get the annual flu vaccine before the end of October. Flu season peaks between December and February.
Good habits can help prevent symptoms, too. Hand washing is important for personal hygiene and helps stop the spread of germs and viruses. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds at a time with soap and water, especially before eating or touching your face. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you are not able to wash your hands.
Clean high-touch surfaces (faucets, counters, bathrooms, doorknobs) frequently with a disinfectant product. Do not share drinks, food, or utensils with others, and teach your children not to either. This is common at school and in activities, but it can easily make you sick.
If you or your child have allergies, look at weather and allergen forecasts to prevent symptoms. Taking a shower after spending time outside helps reduce exposure to allergens, so get in this habit when your allergies peak. If you or your child have symptoms despite preventative measures, talk to your healthcare provider for guidance on medications that may help control symptoms.
If you get sick
Despite our best efforts to stay healthy, we can still fall victim to a virus. If you get sick with a common fall virus, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to ease symptoms.
If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19, follow all CDC and local guidance on home isolation. Avoid smoking as it will only exacerbate any respiratory symptoms, and make an effort to quit for your overall health.