When winter approaches, staying healthy and preventing illness is always a priority. This year, as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever.
“Although COVID-19 has created an additional threat to our health, the good news is the usual strategies we recommend every year are still the best way to prevent illness,” says Dr. Rhett Cummings of The Oregon Clinic Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine.
Keep Practicing Good Hygiene
It’s time to double down on the good hygiene habits we’ve been practicing since the beginning of the pandemic:
- Wash your hands thoroughly or use sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose.
- Cover your cough and sneezes.
- Stay home if you have a fever or other symptoms.
- Wipe down heavily used surfaces (light switches, doorknobs, etc.) with a disinfecting cleaning product.
Get vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19. If you are already vaccinated for COVID-19, get your booster shot as soon as possible. Even if you don’t regularly get a flu shot, this year make it a priority. A bad flu season with high numbers of hospitalizations, combined with COVID-19, could overburden hospitals and medical staff. The flu is already deadly for many of us, especially infants, the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions.
“Just like in past years, it is very important to get your influenza vaccine this season,” says Dr. Cummings. “Getting vaccinated greatly reduces your chance of severe illness if you become infected with the flu virus. Also, having a co-infection with COVID-19 along with influenza will lead to a more prolonged and serious sickness.”
Don’t Skip Doctor Visits
Your healthcare is important, so don’t put off getting care. It’s important to take care of health issues early while they are treatable and are less serious. If you avoid routine screenings and regular checkups, you might put yourself at a higher risk for health issues down the road.
Doctors’ offices have put extra measures in place to make sure patients are safe. At The Oregon Clinic, we have many protocols in place to make our clinics as safe as possible for our patients and staff. We also offer virtual visits so, when appropriate, you can meet with your physician safely from home using a phone, tablet or computer.
Build Healthy Habits for Life
This winter, and all year long, it’s important to eat healthy and exercise to not only strengthen your immune system but also boost your mental health. Building these good habits will help fight disease now and benefit your body for years to come. Eat lots of nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, find a way to move your body that you enjoy and do it regularly, and try get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.