‘Tis the Season to Get Sick
Halloween celebrations are over, and that means it’s time to start preparing for the holiday season. The months of November and December are known for the festive spirit and cozy moments they bring—but unfortunately, they bring an increase in health concerns as well. Cold and flu season, increased stress, overeating, and more can all put a damper on this special time of year.
The onset of winter often causes a surge in illnesses, making it essential for everyone to be prepared and stay informed. As November begins, it’s also vital to maintain a robust immune system, so you can handle any health problems that come your way.
MD Now urgent care is here to help. Let’s explore some common health issues that make their appearance in November, along with the best ways to prevent and manage them. We want you to enjoy the upcoming holiday season with peace of mind, knowing that your health is in good hands.
Cold and Flu Season
Sniffles, sore throat, coughing—the signs of cold and flu season are undeniable. COVID-19 and RSV are in the mix once again as well. With people no longer socially distancing or wearing masks, medical experts expect respiratory viruses to surge this fall and winter.
The very best way to protect yourself against the flu is by getting an annual flu vaccine. If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, now is the time. In 2022, the flu season spiked in November instead of the usual January/February timeframe—and this year will likely be the same.
Think you’re safe from cold and flu season in warm Florida weather? Think again. Cold temperatures are only one contributing factor. Shorter days with less sunlight, spending more time indoors, and an uptick in social gatherings all give respiratory viruses a greater opportunity to spread. With more than 200 viruses that can cause colds and multiple flu strains, the odds are stacked against you.
Follow these tips to help protect yourself and others from cold and flu germs:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water
- Keep the shared surfaces in your home (such as kitchen counters and doorknobs) clean
- Cover up when you cough or sneeze, and ask others to do the same
- Avoid touching your face, especially your nose or mouth
- Eat nutritious meals and get plenty of sleep to boost your immune system
- Get a flu shot – they’re available at MD Now for just $20.
All those sneezes you hear in November aren’t necessarily caused by colds—seasonal allergies are often rampant as well. Tree, grass, and ragweed pollens all thrive during cool nights and warm days. Molds, which grow quickly in the heat and high humidity of Florida summers, also tend to peak in the fall.
Here are some ways to alleviate your allergy symptoms:
- Check the air quality index and pollen count in your area
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air and soothe your nasal passages
- Vacuum your home at least once a week to remove allergens
- Keep your windows closed
- Take a shower and wash your clothes after going outside
Not sure if you have seasonal allergies or a cold? Visit your nearest MD Now urgent care to find out if you need allergy treatment.
Holiday Health Hazards
Indulging in rich, high-calorie foods and/or drinking too much alcohol during the holidays can leave you with lingering health effects. Gatherings that revolve around large meals and holiday treats begin in late November at Thanksgiving and continue for several weeks.
Between November and January, the average adult will gain 1-2 pounds of extra weight and then never lose it, making the holidays one of the biggest contributors to overall weight gain. Excess weight can lead to high cholesterol, high blood sugar, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health issues.
There are many ways to maintain healthy eating and drinking habits, even in the midst of holiday celebrations:
- Eat breakfast on the day of the event, so you won’t be ravenous when it starts
- Use a smaller plate to encourage portion control
- Fill up on fiber-rich foods like beans and whole grains to help satisfy your hunger
- Incorporate vegetables into your holiday meals
- Skip the eggnog and limit alcoholic drinks, which are often high in sugar and calories
If you experience severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting after a holiday gathering, visit your nearest MD Now clinic. Prolonged diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration, which leads to other complications—so don’t delay in seeking care.
Travel can leave us feeling frazzled anytime, but especially during the holidays. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year at U.S. airports, and over 50 million drivers will hit the road during the long Thanksgiving weekend.
Here are some tips to help you have a safe and healthy journey this holiday season:
- Make sure you’re up to date on all your vaccines
- Prepare a travel health kit with your medications, prescriptions, and insurance card
- Pack healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables, or nuts
- Bring a refillable water bottle and use it often
- Plan stops along your driving route for brief physical activity breaks (a 5-minute walk, a quick stretch, or even a few jumping jacks)
Feeling stressed about holiday obligations? You’re not alone.
“During the holidays, we often feel rushed and overwhelmed by schedule commitments and to-do lists,” says Dr. Scott Sanford, Regional Medical Director for MD Now. “Everyone experiences stress differently, but physical symptoms like headache, fatigue, and insomnia or coping mechanisms like binge eating and drinking can quickly sneak up on you.”
Outbursts of anger, increased frustration and anxiety, and withdrawal from others are all significant red flags. When stress begins to impact your physical or mental well-being, it’s probably time to see a physician—consider it a holiday gift to yourself.
These tips can also help you keep holiday stress at bay:
- Set realistic goals rather than overestimating what you can accomplish (and forgive yourself if you fall short)
- Take short breaks throughout the day to practice mindfulness or mediation
- Boost your mood by listing everything you’re grateful for this holiday season
- Ask for help when you need it
- Remember that it’s okay to say “no”
- Always make self-care a priority—you can’t care for anyone else if you’re not caring for yourself
Walk in Now
Staying well during the transition from fall to winter can be challenging, but MD Now has you covered with 85+ locations across Florida. Holiday hours will vary on Thanksgiving, so check your nearest clinic for details.
As always, no appointment is necessary—just walk in. We also offer online Web Check-In® to make getting high-quality healthcare as easy and convenient as possible. Just tell us when you want to come in, and you’ll receive a text message when it’s time for your visit.
MD Now wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season.
About MD Now® Urgent Care
MD Now urgent care is Florida’s largest urgent care operator with more than 85 state-of-the-art clinics conveniently located across Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Saint Lucie, Sarasota, and Seminole Counties. MD Now urgent care’s physician-led team of healthcare professionals provides high-quality healthcare through a comprehensive lineup of urgent care and occupational health services during convenient hours. MD Now urgent care is proud to be affiliated with HCA Florida Healthcare. For more information, visit www.MDNOW.com.