How to Combat Cold, Flu, RSV, and COVID-19 this Season with Martin’s Wellness
‘Tis the season! As the holidays approach, schedules become busier with planning, shopping, travel, and more. However, as holiday gatherings and seasonal celebrations are planned, it’s important to remember that this is also the season for spikes in common illnesses, like the common cold, flu, COVID-19, and RSV.
As we head into the final months of the year, instances of these viruses climb as the temperatures drop, and opportunities for these viruses to spread increase as we spend more time indoors with others. For this reason and more, it’s wise to focus on immune-building steps, such as adding vaccinations for cold and flu prevention Austin to the list to help fight the spread during the busy holiday season.
Today’s post focuses on helpful tips for staying healthy and fortifying the body against the season’s prevalent spread, including an overview of each virus, tips for naturally building the immune system to stay healthy, and how to schedule the vaccinations you need for additional protection in the coming months.
Understanding the Enemies – Cold, Flu, RSV, and COVID-19
Each year, as the summer’s heat cools and the leaves begin to fall, we experience a spike in several seasonal viruses - just in time for the holidays! Many factors likely contribute to this spike, including colder temperatures, lower humidity, increased opportunities to spread with indoor crowds, and weakened immune systems (due to stress, inadequate sleep, poor nutrition, or less exercise).
Until recently, the common cold, flu, and RSV were the biggest threats. However, we can now add COVID-19 to the list since the onset of the pandemic in 2020. To fully understand how these viruses behave and transmit, let’s review each in more detail.
The common cold is a viral infection primarily caused by rhinoviruses, i.e., viruses that primarily infect the upper respiratory tract, including the nose and throat. Symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and sometimes a low-grade fever. Common cold prevention involves frequent handwashing, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, and practicing good respiratory hygiene (like covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing).
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. The flu vaccine is a critical preventive measure to avoid infection. An annual flu vaccine is recommended for most people, especially those at higher risk of complications. Other preventative measures include regular hand-washing and avoiding those with infection.
RSV is a common virus that can cause respiratory tract infections, particularly in young children and those over 65, who are more likely to develop severe RSV and need hospitalization. RSV symptoms typically include cough, fever, runny nose, and wheezing. RSV prevention tips include good hygiene practices, such as handwashing and avoiding close contact with those who are sick. Vaccines for RSV have recently become available for specific groups, as detailed by the CDC here.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms vary but can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, and fatigue.
Prevention is crucial to avoiding infection and preventing severity if infected. COVID-19 prevention involves vaccination, wearing masks in crowded or indoor settings, practicing physical distancing, and following public health guidelines. The CDC's most up-to-date vaccine recommendations are available here.
Natural Immunity Boosters
When virus transmission spikes, a robust immune system is essential for defending your body against viruses and other pathogens. While no single lifestyle change can guarantee immunity, adopting healthy, immunity-boosting habits can help bolster seasonal illness prevention. Following are some lifestyle immunity boosters to adopt during winter and beyond for optimal prevention.
A Balanced Diet
Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to provide essential nutrients. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals - such as vitamins C and D, zinc, and antioxidants - are immunity boosters.
Drink plenty of water to maintain proper bodily functions, including immune system health.
Get Adequate Sleep
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body to repair and rejuvenate.
Engage in moderate, regular physical activity to promote circulation and overall health. Avoid excessive exercise, which can weaken the immune system.
Chronic stress can weaken the immune system. Practicing stress-reduction techniques can help, including meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Excess body weight can strain the immune system. Aim to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.
Practice Good Hygiene
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to prevent the spread of germs. Also, practice good respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
Consider Immune Boosting Supplements
If you have deficiencies in specific vitamins or minerals, such as Vitamins C, D, or Zinc, a supplement can help replenish levels where diet cannot. Also, there are numerous health supplements available that can help fortify the immune system naturally. It’s best to consult a pharmacist or physician before starting a new supplement routine.
If you consider adding natural immunity boosters in supplement form to your routine this winter, contact a Martin’s Wellness pharmacist for advice. We have an extensive line of immunity-focused products available, including top sellers, such as:
The Power of Vaccination
Vaccinations are an essential step in preventing and managing infections caused by the influenza virus (flu) and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Vaccinations work by stimulating the immune system to recognize and defend against specific pathogens without causing the actual disease. Vaccinations have been one of the most successful public health interventions in history, reducing the burden of infectious diseases and saving countless lives.
The primary benefit of the flu vaccine is a reduced risk of contracting the influenza virus. Furthermore, in cases where the virus is contracted after vaccination, the symptoms are often milder and less severe compared to those in unvaccinated individuals. Plus, vaccination can reduce the risk of hospitalization, complications, and death associated with the flu. The flu vaccine is updated each year to match the most common strains of influenza viruses expected to circulate during the flu season, which helps maintain its effectiveness.
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The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone ages six months and older in the United States as a preventative tool. However, there is currently no FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than age six months. Given the relative newness of COVID-19 vaccinations, the CDC continues to update and publish the most up-to-date recommendations for dosage among populations on its website.
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Everyday Tips for Prevention
When it comes to staying healthy during peak virus seasons, maintaining good health and hygiene is essential for preventing infection and overall well-being. Following are some practical tips to implement into your daily routine to help you achieve optimal health.
- • Handwashing: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- • Cover coughs and sneezes: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissues in a lined trash can and wash your hands immediately.
- • Vaccination: Stay current on recommended vaccinations to protect yourself and others from preventable diseases.
- • Nutritious diet: Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive salt.
- • Hydration: Drink an adequate amount of water each day to support bodily functions.
- • Regular exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity weekly exercise.
- • Adequate sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body to recover and rejuvenate.
- • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol: Quit smoking if you smoke, and limit alcohol consumption.
- • Personal and environmental hygiene: Bathe or shower regularly to keep your body clean. Maintain oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth. Keep your living spaces clean, well-ventilated, and free from hazards.
- • Vitamin and Mineral Supplements: Consider supplements to address vitamin and mineral deficiencies or specific wellness goals.
- • Regular health check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider for preventive care and early detection of health issues.
- • Mental health care: Take care of your mental health through mindfulness, therapy, or counseling when needed.
Martin’s Wellness – Your Partner in Health and Wellness
Martin’s Wellness is a Texas compound pharmacy and wellness center serving the Austin and Dripping Springs communities with traditional prescriptions, specialized compounded medications, and an extensive line of professional-grade nutritional supplements to address total wellness. In addition to supplements and medications, we also provide functional medicine consultations, complete medication management, and vaccinations.
As practitioners dedicated to the highest quality of accuracy, ethics, and clinical confidence, we strive to deliver whole health services with caring, warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit. Here’s what customers have to say about Martin’s Wellness -
“The best pharmacy I’ve ever been to/The best pharmacy experience I’ve ever had! They are very kind, quick, understanding, and efficient. I can’t believe I’ve been going to Walgreens for years when places like Lamar Plaza Drug store exist. Not only was Rashida so nice over the phone, she came up with excellent solutions to a current problem I was having with my prescription. This problem has been going on for weeks, and she is the only person that actually offered a solution.”
As the holiday season closes in, signaling the start of winter, it’s more important now than ever to stay healthy and take preventative measures to stave off seasonal viruses like colds, flu, COVID-19, and RSV. Protect yourself and your family by taking action by getting vaccinated, eating healthy, getting plenty of rest, considering immunity-supporting supplements, managing stress, and more.
Health and wellness Austin / Dripping Springs is the focus of Martin’s Wellness - your friendly neighborhood pharmacy. We’re here to help you stay healthy during the flu and cold season with various immunity-boosting supplements, vaccinations, wellness consultations, and more - always delivered with a friendly smile.