Dr. Andy Fine, the lead primary care physician at Colorado Primary Health Care, and currently serving as the Governor of the Colorado Chapter of the American College of Physicians, talks about the transition from Summer to Fall and your health.
The first thing to do that is very important is to dress in layers as the season changes. Dress in layers and carry an extra layer in case you get stuck in air conditioning and it’s not what you expected. Being stuck in a hot room is just as bad. Dressing in layers gives you the opportunity to remove them as needed. Weather can change in the swing season significantly on any given day. So, as the day goes on from cold to hot to cold, you have the opportunity to be comfortable with the right layers on. If you get chilled or overheated and continue that vicious cycle, you are more prone to getting sick.
The second thing that is so important is to make sure you wash your hands before you put them in your mouth. It may sound odd but, with school in session, children in daycare and people passing germs on door handles and other objects, hands tend to go to the face and mouth area very often in a day. The colder temperatures tend to bring people inside and in closer proximity to each other. The likelihood of diseases such as bronchitis and sinus infections getting passed around increases. It is also allergy season which brings ragweed and fall grasses, which also adds to getting infections.
If you have chronic post nasal drip, congestion, or what you think are sinus symptoms, it might not just be allergies or a common migraine, it could be you have chronic allergies. If these symptoms are left untreated or treated with over the counter medicines and don’t work, that is a reason to go see your primary care physician who can prescribe antihistamines, nasal sprays, decongestants or steroid nose sprays that just go to your nose and don’t typically have side effects. Also, if these symptoms persisted, you can be allergy tested in the office for a wider range of allergy causing symptoms.
These low grade allergies may be minor issues but cumulatively, may be giving you chronic runny nose, post nasal drip or a chronic cough. If you experience a chronic cough, it doesn’t mean you have an infection or necessarily need antibiotics.
The third thing in this two part series is getting a flu vaccination. Taking time to go in and get a vaccination is probably the most cost effective thing you can do to protect your health and it is covered by insurance. It’s free in most cases and is very helpful in decreasing your chances of getting the flu, which in most people can be a prolonged episode. Flu can last up to two weeks with muscle aches, head aches, cough and congestion. The vaccination protects against all kinds of upper respiratory illness including influenza and also will decrease your risk for heart disease, by decreasing the inflammatory burden in your body if you get sick.
Another vaccination, that is highly recommended for those who qualify, is a pneumonia vaccination. That is for those over 65 with any lung, kidney, liver problems or a diabetic. If you have asthma, emphysema or COPD, you probably could qualify for the vaccine which is usually a two dose process and it prevents not only pneumonia, but other kinds of upper respiratory infections you can get.
Come back next week for part two of keeping you healthy during the Fall season changes.