Joseph R, Anticaglia, MD
Medical Advisory Board
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that influenza was associated with 10,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States during the 2021-2022 season. What’s noteworthy, is that these figures represent a remarkable decrease in hospitalizations and deaths due to influenza, when compared to the previous eight years in the U. S.
Could the heightened protective health measures (ten tips below) spurred on by the COVID-19 epidemic during the years 2021 to 2022 help explain the downturn in flu hospitalizations and deaths?
Protecting yourself against “Respi,” respiratory infections like COVID-19, the flu, RSV (see glossary) and the common cold is essential to maintain good health. It is especially important during the fall and winter months, when people are more susceptible to contagious, viral infections.
Here are ten tips to help reduce the risk of getting respiratory infections:
‘Ten Tips’ to Protect Yourself Against “Respi”
1. Wear a mask in crowded public places to reduce the risk of inhaling respiratory droplets from others; especially if you are immunocompromised, or have other serious health problems
2. Get vaccinated against respiratory viruses such as COVID-19, RSV and the flu to reduce the risk of infection. Stay current with recommended vaccinations.
3. Get tested if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or if you have cold-like symptoms to rule out COVID.
4. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after using the restroom, after shopping, and being in public spaces.
5. Stay Home if you’re sick. If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, stay home to avoid spreading the infection. Get tested.
6. Stay away from people who are sick. When feasible, stay at least six feet away from people; for instance, in check-out areas, to minimize exposure to infection.
7. Avoid Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, as this can introduce viruses into your body.
8. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available that contains at least 60% alcohol.
9. Practice good respiratory hygiene by following proper coughing and sneezing etiquette.
10. Boost your immune system with regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, managing stress, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
There has been an upward trend in the incidence of respiratory infections at the beginning of this fall/winter season. We all have a tendency to backslide on the above suggestions. Ideas such as not sharing utensils or towels when at home, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough, or sneeze seem to be too simplistic. The bottom line — the above recommendations — when applied consistently, work to protect you, your family and the people you come in contact with from getting sick.
RSV — respiratory syncytial virus
Respi — respiratory infections such as COVID, RSV, and the flu.
- FDA; Safety Using Hand Sanitizers; April12, 2023
- CDC; 2022-2023 U. S. Flu Season: Preliminary In-Season Burden Estimates;
- CDC; Estimated Range of Annual Burden of Flu in the U. S. from 2010 — 2020; October 4, 2022
This article is intended solely as a learning experience. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and treatment options.