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Everything You Need to Know About Common Illnesses in the Fall

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The days are getting shorter and temperatures are slowly starting to drop. This can only mean one thing: fall is right around the corner!

With this season comes the promise of bonfires, apple cider, and football games. It’s one of the best times of the year, but it can also have its drawbacks. There are many viral illnesses that become more prevalent and easier to spread in the fall, making these months less magical and more miserable. 

It’s important to take care of yourself now so you can enjoy all of the bounty that awaits. Today, we’re taking a look at a few of the most common illnesses to be aware of in the coming months, and how our team at IMPC can help you stay well. 

Allergies

Does pollen tend to trigger your allergies each spring? If so, then you’re likely to experience those same symptoms in the fall, as allergens such as ragweed and mold spores start to appear. 

Some of the most common signs of fall allergies include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Cough
  • Scratchy throat
  • Postnasal drainage
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Ear congestion

Another common culprit? Your HVAC system! When you turn your heat on during that first chilly night, it can stir up dust mites in and around the machine. These can also lead to an allergic reaction.

Some of the steps you can take to minimize your symptoms include keeping the doors and windows of your house shut when possible and showering after spending an extended amount of time outdoors. You can also check the news or download apps to monitor your local air quality and pollen counts each day. 

Flu

The influenza virus is especially common during the fall and can lead to some pretty miserable symptoms. While many of the early signs can mimic those of a common cold, the flu is more serious and can turn into more severe illnesses, including pneumonia and bronchitis, if left untreated.

Some of the most common symptoms of the flu include:

  • Sudden onset of fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Chest congestion or tightness 
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Cough

An annual flu shot can help strengthen your immune system against the flu. It can also minimize any symptoms you experience if you do contract the virus. You can visit us at IMPC to receive your flu shot if you haven’t gotten one already. 

Other ways to keep the flu away include washing your hands regularly, covering your nose and mouth while sneezing, and avoiding big crowds. You can also build up your natural immune response by getting plenty of rest, following a healthy diet, and minimizing stress. 

Common Cold

The common cold is usually less severe than the flu, but it can still be uncomfortable. It also tends to hang around, lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. This is an upper respiratory infection usually caused by rhinoviruses, and it’s easily spread from one person to the next.

Symptoms of the common cold can include:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Congestion
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Scratchy throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue 

The same prevention tips you’d use to prevent the flu also apply to the common cold. While there’s no immunization to prevent it, you can avoid catching it by washing your hands thoroughly (especially after visiting a public place), avoiding crowds, and adopting a healthy, low-stress lifestyle. 

Cold-Induced Asthma

As its name implies, cold-induced asthma usually develops out of a common cold. It’s also referred to as winter asthma. 

If you’re already dealing with symptoms of a cold, your nasal passages and airways are already inflamed. As the weather turns colder, it can exacerbate this dryness. In turn, this can make it more difficult to catch your breath, even when you aren’t exercising. 

Symptoms of cold-induced asthma include:

  • Chest tightness or heaviness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty eating, sleeping, or speaking

Try to avoid places and environments that will trigger your asthma, and treat any cold or flu symptoms as early as possible to prevent them from developing into this illness. It’s also important to stay away from smoke-filled environments, as these can worsen your asthma. 

Sinusitis

Many of the symptoms of sinusitis mimic those of the common cold. However, this condition tends to be more acute and longer-lasting. It occurs when the tissues that line your sinuses and the cavities around your nasal passage become inflamed. 

If you come down with the flu, cold, or allergies, then sinusitis can often develop as a result. For this reason, it’s more common in colder weather. 

Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Post Nasal drip
  • Dark yellow or green nasal discharge
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sinus headache
  • Tenderness at sinus pressure points on your face
  • Fever

Promptly treating other fall illnesses can help keep sinusitis at bay. To lessen its effects, drink plenty of liquids to thin out your nasal discharge, and get lots of rest. You can also keep your nasal passages moist with saline sprays to reduce irritation and inflammation. 

Sore Throat

When the days and nights start to turn colder, it can trigger post nasal drip in your sinuses. This can cause your throat to feel scratchy, especially when you first wake up in the morning. 

In addition, you may also experience a sore throat if you’re dealing with seasonal fall allergies, as well as the flu or common cold. 

Some of the symptoms you may experience as a result of a sore throat include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Nasal congestion
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Body aches
  • Watery eyes

Sometimes, a sore throat is an unavoidable symptom related to a fall virus. However, you can increase your chances of staying healthy by washing your hands, avoiding crowds, and

covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. If you know someone is sick, avoid socializing with them and don’t share any food or drinks. 

Arthritis

While it’s technically a disease and not an illness, if you suffer from arthritis, you might discover that your symptoms tend to get worse as cold, damp weather approaches. 

This condition, which causes painful inflammation to develop around your joints, accelerates with age. 

Symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Joint tenderness
  • Joint swelling 
  • Fatigue

To control and prevent symptoms of arthritis, try to stick to a healthy diet and participate in moderate exercise a few times a week to control your weight and keep your joints flexible. At IMPC, we also offer a range of internal medicine services that can help you manage and alleviate symptoms.

IMPC: Your Partner This Fall (and All Year-Round)

Don’t let these common fall illnesses get you down. At IMPC, we’re committed to keeping you healthy in every season, including this one!

By taking a preventative approach to your care, our team of board-certified physicians can identify and treat symptoms of illness before they snowball into bigger issues. When you schedule an adult wellness exam, we’ll take a close look at your medical history to understand which seasonal triggers may aggravate you, and share tips to help you prevent them before they even start.

In addition, you can also schedule your yearly flu shot at our office, along with other annual immunizations. This can help strengthen your immune system and lower your risk of contracting the flu this year.

You deserve to head into fall confident, happy, and healthy! Request an appointment with our team today to learn more about how to take charge of your health and feel your best all year. 

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