Holiday gatherings are returning to normal as the U.S. adapts to living with Covid and prevention tools have become more readily available to reduce the risk of severe illness for many people.
But as temperatures drop during the holiday season and we spend more time in crowded spaces and close-contact settings indoors, viral infections from the common cold, flu, and Covid-19 are still more likely to spread easily.
As prominently reported in the media, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases are also on the rise across the U.S., causing cold-like symptoms in adults, and wheezing, bronchitis, and pneumonia in many children.
According to Dr. Alan Goldsobel of Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California, and a Tivic Health medical advisory board member, “The current increase in RSV infections is a type of ‘rebound’ as most respiratory viruses (besides Covid) were greatly diminished in the last two years due to masking, social distancing, remote work, and schooling.
“And with the flu season predicted to be more severe this year, ongoing precautions should still be taken. Flu and Covid vaccinations are vitally important, especially in high-risk populations,” continued Goldsobel.
“For allergy sufferers, extra measures should be taken, particularly when traveling for the holidays. When traveling to see family and friends, there is more exposure to pets, wood-burning fireplaces, scented candles or potpourri, that are irritants and can lead to increased upper respiratory tract symptoms,” added Goldsobel.
What are some tips and strategies to stay safe, healthy, and enjoy the holidays?
- Use this CDC Covid-19 County Check to monitor cases in your region. Unless Covid cases in your area are low or moderate, it may be best to hold off on group gatherings.
- Make sure there is good indoor ventilation at parties and gatherings. Keep windows and doors open to bring in the fresh air. Use a window fan in a room with open windows or doors to help blow air outside.
- Wash your Christmas tree outside with a garden hose, focusing on the trunk, before bringing it indoors. This helps remove potential allergens such as mold spores and pollen.
- Clean all holiday decorations including artificial trees before they go up, as they can accumulate dust and mold, depending on how they’re stored.
- Take all your medications with you when traveling.
- Pace yourself, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest during the holiday season. Keep up with your workout routine to manage stress levels.
Dr. Goldsobel adds, “To manage cold or allergy symptoms, rinsing or flushing the nose and sinuses with salt water can be very soothing and decongesting. And I recommend the ClearUP device as extremely helpful for sinus pain, pressure, and nasal congestion. It’s non-invasive, 100% drug-free, and delivers targeted treatment with real-time results.”
Don’t forget to take some simple precautions that can help ensure a healthy holiday season for you and your family. Safe travels!
RSV Cases Are Rising. Here’s What You Need to Know (New York Times)
Allergies and Asthma Shouldn’t Prevent Comfort and Joy This Holiday Season (American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology)
What to Know About Pet Allergies (Tivic Blog)