SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As temperatures fall, reports of seasonal illnesses are rising. But what exactly is it that’s stuffing you up, tiring you out and tickling the back of your throat?
According to providers at Avera and Sanford in Sioux Falls, influenza, RSV and strep throat are all currently in circulation.
Dr. Basel, VP of Clinical Quality at Avera, says that influenza is officially at a local-spread level as we approach December. “It is kind of early for us to be seeing an uptick in flu cases,” he said.
Basel says he is also seeing a significant increase in RSV cases, which affects young children. He said this is also coming earlier than normal.
Whether it’s flu, RSV or COVID, which Basel says they’re also seeing continued cases of, these viruses spread through close contact.
Zac Deutsch, a Sanford Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, works in clinics, seeing patients and their germs up close. He says the same ways he stays healthy could work for you too.
“We, as healthcare providers, still wear masks,” Deutsch said, recommending that patients coming to the clinic wear one regardless of whether they have a respiratory illness or not. “You’re sitting in that waiting room with other people that have that respiratory illness, so wearing a mask can help protect yourself.”
Deutsch also advocated good hand hygiene; washing and sanitizing, avoiding touching your face, and wiping down surfaces. “Cell phones,” he said. “You’re touching that cell phone constantly throughout the day.”
Most importantly for keeping people safe, said Basel, is staying home if you’re sick. “That’s one of the bigger societal changes I think we’re going to see post-COVID,” he said. “Five years ago, if I got cold symptoms, I would feel like I was letting down my co-workers if I didn’t come into work — now I’m probably letting down my co-workers if I come in and give them whatever I have.”
Another tool: vaccines.
“We have the flu vaccines — COVID vaccines,” Deutsch said. “The vaccines aren’t a sure sign that you’re not going to get the infection — but it decreases the severity of your symptoms.”
Deutsch and Basel both note that it’s not too late to get your flu or COVID vaccines if you’ve put it off.
Respiratory illnesses, such as a cold, COVID, flu and RSV, can be hard to tell apart, but if you think you may be coming down with one of them, here are a few signs listed by Basel:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Body aches
If you feel ill, go ahead and get it checked out, but Deutsch asks you to keep one thing in mind. “We’ve had a big increase in patients that have been sick, so sometimes our weight time are a little bit longer,” he warned. “We’re doing our best to see and treat everybody, and give them the time they deserve.”