Gone are the days when respiratory viruses like the flu and the common cold were solely a concern during the brisk British autumn and winter months. This shift in the seasonal pattern of these illnesses may have left you puzzled and concerned, especially if you or your loved ones seem to be falling ill outside the traditional ‘cold and flu season’ – Year-round respiratory viruses are likely here to stay.
Understanding the New Reality: Year-round Respiratory Viruses
Historically, viruses such as influenza and the common cold predominantly struck in the colder months. However, we are now witnessing these viruses persisting throughout the year, including in spring and summer. This can be particularly alarming for those who are more vulnerable, such as children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
Why the Change in Seasonality?
Several factors have contributed to this new trend. Global travel means viruses can easily traverse continents, spreading beyond their usual seasonal confines. Climate change is also altering traditional weather patterns, impacting the survival and transmission of viruses. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in disrupting the usual patterns of these viruses, leading to a decrease in immunity in the population and a resurgence of infections as social restrictions ease.
How Can You Protect Yourself From Year-round Respiratory Viruses?
- Maintain Good Hygiene: Frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitisers can greatly reduce the spread of viruses.
- Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and getting sufficient sleep can strengthen your immune system.
- Stay Up-to-date with Vaccinations: Keeping abreast of your vaccinations, including the annual flu jab, is crucial. These vaccines may not cover every strain but they provide significant protection against prevalent ones.
- Minimise Contact with Ill Persons: Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell, particularly in crowded or enclosed spaces.
- Consider Mask-Wearing in Risky Situations: In crowded or poorly ventilated areas, wearing a mask can add an extra layer of protection.
- Regularly Clean Your Environment: Keeping your home clean and well-ventilated can help to eliminate any lingering virus particles.
- Recognise Symptoms Early: Be aware of the early signs of respiratory infections, such as a cough, fever, or breathing difficulties, and consult a healthcare professional if they arise.
- Avoid Touching Your Face: Try not to touch your face with unwashed hands as viruses often enter the body through the eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of fluids helps to keep your mucous membranes moist, which can reduce your susceptibility to infections.
- Manage Stress Effectively: Chronic stress can weaken your immune system, so finding ways to relax and reduce stress is important for your overall health.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment