In much of the U.S., the temperatures are dipping, the leaves are changing, and the days are getting shorter. That can only mean one thing: autumn is here, and winter is not too far behind. Just as we weather-proof our homes, vehicles, and gardens, we also need to think about how we get our minds and bodies ready for the change of seasons. In this blog post, we hope to give you a few tips about what you can do now to stay healthy all year round.
Schedule a YOU-focused visit
At The Good Clinic, we take a personalized, whole-person approach to healthcare. That means when we ask, “How are you?” we are going beyond simply checking the boxes. We will spend as much time with you as you need to discuss your health goals and co-create a customized plan to manage your health conditions and stay well.
Sleep cycles can change with the seasons, so during your visit, we will ask, “How is your sleep?” Colder weather and more time spent indoors can also impact your nutrition, hydration, and exercise routines. People tend to work out more during the summer months and eat more during winter months, so we will help make sure you are drinking plenty of water, have adequate exercise, and are eating balanced, nutritious meals.
During your YOU-focused visit, we will revisit your seasonal conditions, like allergies and asthma. Talk with your provider about your symptoms, and whether your current medications are still working well for you.
Finally, your stress levels and the amount of sunshine you are getting can affect your mental health. Some people who experience seasonal depression can prepare for the long winter months by investing in light therapy products and by taking sufficient doses of vitamin D.
Checks your labs and discuss supplementation
During your visit, your healthcare provider may order lab tests to check for the presence of disease or health conditions if appropriate. We will also review other age-appropriate vaccinations like tetanus, pertussis, pneumonia, and shingles and make sure they are up to date.
This would be a suitable time to discuss whether your immune health requires the additional support of vitamins and supplements. Your immune system works hard to protect your body by fighting off disease and infection, supporting your overall health and wellness. During a seasonal check-in with your healthcare provider, consider having a conversation about whether vitamins or supplements may be helpful.
Get a seasonal influenza shot
One important preventive measure you can take this year is to get your seasonal flu shot, which is widely available now. According to the CDC, we can expect a particularly nasty cold and flu season this year. Did you happen to notice that you did not get as many colds last year as you had in previous years? During the pandemic, we were masked and socially distanced, which not only diminished the spread of Covid, but also the spread of other viruses.
The flu season in the United States typically lasts from October through March and peaks between December and February. Because the vaccine starts to build antibodies within two weeks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that people ages six months and older get the annual influenza vaccination by the end of October.
While the flu shot does not guarantee that you will not get sick, it can lessen the severity of illness in people who become infected.
Get your Covid vaccine
If you have not yet been vaccinated for COVID, now is the time to get your Covid-19 vaccination. Healthcare experts do not know whether influenza, RSV or parainfluenza viruses or adenoviruses will facilitate the spread of Covid or crowd it out. Consult with your health provider to assess your risk, and if you are among the people who the CDC recommends getting the vaccine or booster, be sure to get it now.
Make changes to your environment
To maintain optimal health, it is important not to overlook environmental factors that can make you feel less than ideal. The EPA reports that with your windows closed, pollution in your home can be up to two to five times higher than it is outdoors. Allergens and other potentially harmful particles that never leave the home can thrive during the fall and winter months. Check your furnace filter and change it if you have not, and if you are going to use your fireplace, get your chimney inspected. Other important measures to take include testing and changing the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You can also start using humidifiers to reduce the dryness in your home and bring some moisture back into the air.
What to do if you feel unwell
Despite our best efforts and a solid healthcare plan, we still sometimes get sick. If you do feel unwell this fall or winter, there are many ways you can let your healthcare provider know. At The Good Clinic, we encourage you to send a message to your provider through your health portal or schedule a telehealth or in-person visit. For your convenience, we offer same-day, next-day, and walk-in appointments at all Good Clinic locations.