Dr. Patricia Morales Brost, a family physician with Aurora Medical Group in Oshkosh, shares how to navigate these seasonal changes and protect ourselves from the common cold and flu.
Although fall brings us the changing of the leaves and pumpkin spiced coffees, it can also trigger allergies and signal the start of flu season.
Allergies can happen to anyone, regardless of the season. However, fall allergies are specifically caused by ragweed, according to Dr. Morales Brost.
“Ragweed is responsible for 75% of cases. It generally begins to release pollen during the warm nights of August and can remain in the air until October”, explains Dr. Morales Brost.
Fall allergies are like summer allergies because the allergen is in the soil. During the summer, the allergens are grass-related pollen, and during the fall, it can be mold from a damp pile of leaves. Allergies can also be caused by dust mites in your home.
How can you get relief from allergies? Dr. Morales Brost offers these four tips:
- Before turning on the heater for the first time, clean the vents and change the filters.
- Use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.
- Use a dehumidifier.
- Wear a mask.
With the weather changing to cooler temperatures, this also means the start of flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every season, with rare exceptions. Vaccination is especially important for people who are at higher risk for serious complications from the flu.
The flu can be mild for some people and more serious for others. The symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 can be similar and difficult to distinguish. Both can include symptoms such as fever, cough, or sore throat. If you have any symptoms that indicate the flu or COVID-19, the following is recommended:
- Consult your doctor
- Get tested for COVID-19
- Isolate yourself from others and wear a mask
- Take a safety assessment in the LiveWell app before your visit
seasonal affective disorder
As the seasons change, some people may experience seasonal affective disorder, related to shorter daylight hours and a lack of sunlight in the winter. Seasonal affective disorder has symptoms similar to those of depression, such as fatigue, weight gain, and loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
How can you best help yourself if you are not adjusting well to the new season? Dr. Morales Brost offers these three tips:
- Take a vitamin D supplement; at least 800-2000 units per day.
- Practice stress-relieving activities, like yoga and meditation, for at least 5 minutes a couple of times a week.
- Exercise for fun at least 30-50 minutes a couple of times a week.
Safety against COVID-19
Vaccination remains the best way to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are still activities you can enjoy while continuing to social distance and follow expert recommendations. These activities include:
- Visit a place where the leaves change
- Stop by a local pumpkin patch
- Visit a corn maze
- Cooking with apples and autumn spices
- Make your own Halloween costume
Fall should be something that inspires anticipation and pleasure, explained Dr. Morales Brost. Her doctor can help you manage her allergies and stay healthy as the seasons change.