As we begin to prepare for the upcoming year, you’d think our society would celebrate a collective sigh of relief from lower Covid numbers and more precise preventative medicines. Unfortunately, the opposite is occurring, and few are paying attention.
Over the past 10 weeks, more than 150,000 flu-related hospitalizations and deaths have occurred across the U.S. That is outside of the Covid related deaths and treatment.
Even today, as I write this article, major cities are debating the value of instigating a new mask mandate because there is a new fear: the blended problems of Covid, the flu, and the respiratory syncytial virus.
Why is this such a concern right now? We are entering the holiday season when travel is at its most rabid time. Everyone from your next-door neighbor to even the most socially conscious surgeon is moving through the TSA to visit the family and friends they haven’t seen in years.
On top of that, you have all the schools being back open and in full operation. As any parent will tell you, when you have a single child in the school system, you are bound to experience every single virus and bacteria they come in contact with during lunch, holding the stair railing, or unboxing a new set of colored markers for art class.
The confluence of Covid-19, flu, and other respiratory viruses going around at once has had a significant impact on patient outcomes.
The overlap of these viruses has made it more difficult for healthcare providers to accurately diagnose and treat patients, leading to a higher risk of complications and death.
One of the major challenges of dealing with the confluence of these viruses is the difficulty in accurately diagnosing patients. Covid-19, flu, and other respiratory viruses can present with similar symptoms, such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
This can make it difficult for healthcare providers to determine which virus a patient is suffering from, leading to delays in treatment and the potential for misdiagnosis.
Covid-19 has a higher mortality rate than the flu, and patients who are infected with both viruses at the same time are at an even higher risk of serious complications and death.
In addition, the concurrent presence of these viruses can also lead to an increased burden on the healthcare system, as more patients may require hospitalization and intensive care.
Other respiratory viruses have also had a significant impact on patient outcomes due to the increased risk of infection in certain populations.
For example, individuals with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, are at a higher risk of serious issues related to RSV and the current blending of harmful viruses.
The worst part is there still is plenty of misinformation about how these situations are unfolding across the nation. Misinformation about a virus can lead to a greater spread in several ways.
First, misinformation can lead to confusion and fear among the general public, which can make it more difficult for people to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from the virus.
If people believe that a certain treatment or vaccine is effective against a virus, they may be less likely to follow recommended guidelines such as wearing a mask or practicing social distancing.
Misinformation can also lead to complacency and a false sense of security among the public.
When the average citizen believes that a virus is not as dangerous or contagious as it actually is, they may be less likely to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others. This can result in more people being exposed to the virus, leading to greater spread.
Additionally, misinformation can make it more difficult for healthcare providers and public health officials to effectively communicate the risks and recommendations related to a virus. This can lead to greater confusion and a slower response to the spread of the virus.
Why bring this up? Because the best way to combat all these illnesses is through educating the public.
When we as individuals take it upon ourselves to research and understand how to best deal with the repercussions of Covid, RSV, and the flu, we are better equipped to improve our symptoms and overall health before inundating the hospital system.
Now, this does not mean we should be breaking down the doors of grocery stores for toilet paper again. It means we need to take responsibility for protecting ourselves and our families. Wearing masks is not a negative.
It is warmer in the winter months, and you can avoid many of the uncomfortable conversations you may not want by having a bit more anonymity. You should also wash your and your kiddo’s hands more often.
Just like a doctor about to practice a procedure, you really don’t want to spread whatever gross bacteria was on that Starbucks countertop to everyone else in the house.
Finally, make sure you are getting a well-rounded diet and decent sleep. I’m not suggesting joining the Keto plan or signing up for weight watchers (though I’ve heard good things about the latter).
Instead, be sure you are getting plenty of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals so if you do end up with any of these dangerous viruses, your body is prepared to get you through it a little faster.
As always, the best advice will be from your medical provider. If you can, stick to telemedicine when you first detect symptoms.
That way, you aren’t exposing yourself to the various sicknesses being passed around the hospital, and you are not dragging down the resources that may be needed for those with far more serious situations.
I hope this has been helpful to you and your family. The holidays are meant to be a time of relaxation and making new memories.
While we are dealing with a spike in many outbreaks, taking the time to learn and prepare could make all the difference this year.
Written by: Emmanuel J. Osemota