If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are all vulnerable and should take responsibility for our own health.
As winter draws near, most of us dread the dry flaky skin, red nose, multiple layers of clothes and discomfort that the cold might bring.
In the past, pre-covid, we were concerned about the flu virus in winter – how to protect the elderly and vulnerable which was mostly considered ‘the other people’ and not ourselves.
Last year, there was barely a flu season! What are the possible reasons? Lockdown with less social contact, wearing of masks, staying home when you have any symptoms indicative of covid (which happen to overlap a lot with flu), more people getting the flu vaccine or not going to the doctor in fear of being infected and therefore not being diagnosed at all?
It is probably a combination of all of these factors. It is important to distinguish between the common cold, flu, covid and allergies.
Many symptoms overlap unfortunately. If in doubt, check it out. By knowing the difference between these conditions, the correct and timely intervention can prevent serious complications.
Mild flu symptoms and the common cold can easily be treated by over-the-counter medication provided by your pharmacist.
If you are a chronic allergy sufferer, you will be well aware if the allergens usually causing your symptoms are relevant and when your symptoms typically start.
If you suspect you are infected by the coronavirus, do the right thing. Get tested and isolate as soon as possible!
|Symptoms||Coronavirus||Flu||Common cold||Seasonal Allergies|
|Cough||Often, usually dry||Often, usually dry||Mild||Often|
|Diarrhea||Sometimes||Sometimes in children||No||No|
|Shortness of breath||Often||Rare||Rare||Rare|
|Loss of taste and smell||Often||Rare||Rare||Rare|
How do we stay safe and healthy THIS winter?
- Keep on wearing your mask (correctly) and continue avoiding crowds.
- Stay home when you have flu-like symptoms and minimise contact until you are symptom-free (even breathing can release the aerosols responsible for transmitting the flu/corona virus).
- Get your flu vaccine this year too, and for the elderly and those with co-morbidities, consider the pneumococcal vaccine that provides additional protection for lung infections for up to five years.
- Eat a healthy diet. Even though salads are not on top of the list for warming up your body, make sure you still eat plenty fresh fruit and vegetables
- Continue exercising, it will not only prevent winter flab, but it will keep the spirits up due to the release of endorphins and serotonin. Consider an indoor alternative if the weather is preventing you from ‘getting out there’. Remember that you can still get vitamin D from the winter sun, which will promote bone health and assist your general health.
- Do not neglect going for your regular check-ups. Find out about covid precautions at your doctor’s office and consider a tele-medicine consultation (if that is a possibility) if you are not comfortable visiting the rooms. Neglected chronic conditions and its complications, will be the next global pandemic.
- Even though physical distancing is needed, social distancing from loved ones and friends is not needed. Be creative and connect digitally, in smaller groups, or outside if the weather allows.