CareNow® - October 27, 2023

The kids are back in school. The weather finally started to cool. And the leaves are turning to beautiful shades of red and orange. There’s an excitement in the air that fall has finally arrived.

However, if you’ve noticed everyone in your family tends to cough and sniffle way more than usual this time of year, there’s a reason why. Fall also brings with it a spike in certain illnesses that are more prevalent during this time of the year.

So, before you bust out the pumpkin spice latte and flannel favorites, take some time to learn which illnesses to watch out for. Here’s a look at five prevalent ones that peak in fall weather, including the dreaded influenza virus and other common pediatric viruses. We’ll share common fall sickness symptoms and causes so you know exactly how to stay healthy this season.

Why do I get sick every fall?

Do you find yourself reaching for tissues and cough drops every autumn? You're not alone. Many people wonder why they seem to get sick more often during the fall months. There are actually several reasons for this phenomenon.

Viral Season:

Fall marks the beginning of the viral season, with cold and flu viruses becoming more active, it’s normal to experience a fall cough or fall sore throat. The cooler temperatures and lower humidity create an environment where these fall viruses thrive.

Back-to-School Effect:

With the start of the school year, children and teachers are exposed to various germs. This can lead to the rapid spread of illnesses within school communities and, subsequently, to families at home.

Indoor Crowding:

As the weather cools down, people spend more time indoors in close proximity to others. This close contact facilitates the transmission of contagious illnesses.

What are the symptoms of strep throat?

Anyone who’s experienced strep throat before knows how painful it can be. Caused by Streptococcus bacteria, the bacterial infection is highly contagious and spread via airborne droplets, making it frequently transmitted in school settings.

Here are some of the key symptoms of strep throat to watch out for:

  • Sore Throat: Strep throat typically starts with a severe sore throat that can make swallowing painful.
  • Fever: A high fever is often present, along with chills.
  • Swollen Tonsils: Your tonsils may appear red and swollen, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus.
  • Headache: Strep throat can cause headaches and body aches.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Some individuals may experience nausea and vomiting, especially children.

Antibiotics, typically penicillin or amoxicillin, are usually prescribed to treat the infection. It's important to complete the full course even if you start feeling better.

If you suspect you have strep throat, you should see a healthcare provider as soon as possible for a throat swab and proper diagnosis. Urgent care facilities like CareNow® can provide you with quick convenient care so you can get back to your day in no time.

Virtual visits are also a great option if you want to see a provider from the comfort of your home. With the CareNow® telehealth program, you can get the care you need and be back on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.

What are the symptoms of Norovirus?

Norovirus is another common fall sickness that can spread quickly in close quarters. It is often referred to as the "stomach flu," although it actually has no relation to the influenza virus. Its symptoms are primarily gastrointestinal in nature and can include:

  • Nausea: You may experience sudden and severe nausea.
  • Vomiting: Norovirus often leads to frequent episodes of vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: Watery diarrhea is a common symptom.
  • Abdominal Pain: You might have abdominal cramps and discomfort.
  • Fever: In some cases, a low-grade fever may accompany these symptoms.

Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread through contaminated food, water, and surfaces. Your best bet to avoid norovirus is to practice proper handwashing and hygiene practices. Staying hydrated is also crucial if you're infected, as vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration.

How do I know if I have an ear infection?

Ear infections tend to be more prevalent during the autumn and winter seasons. Both children and adults are at risk of an ear infection. It may impact those who suffer from seasonal allergies more, particularly when pollen levels are elevated, more so than those who don’t.

Recognizing the symptoms of an ear infection can help you seek medical attention before complications occur:

  • Ear Pain: Ear infections often cause sharp or throbbing pain in the affected ear.
  • Fever: A mild fever can accompany an ear infection, especially in children.
  • Hearing Loss: You may notice temporary hearing loss or muffled sounds.
  • Drainage: Fluid or pus may drain from the ear.
  • Irritability: Children with ear infections may become irritable and have trouble sleeping.

If you or your child experience these symptoms, you’ll want to consult a healthcare provider as soon as you can. Ear infections can be caused by bacterial or viral infections, and treatment may involve antibiotics or pain management.

5 Tips for staying healthy during fall

To minimize your risk of falling ill during the fall season, consider the following tips:

Get a Flu Vaccination:

Get a flu shot to protect yourself and others from influenza, a prevalent fall illness. You can get discounted flu shots at CareNow® clinics for just $20.

Practice Proper Hand Hygiene:

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after being in public places.

Stay Active:

Regular exercise can boost your immune system and help you stay healthy. Even during the cold weather months, you can find indoor activities that keep you moving.

Maintain a Healthy Diet:

Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables to support your immune system. Prioritizing seasonal fruits and vegetables is a great way to give your body the boost it needs to fight off illness.

Wear the Right Clothing:

Dress appropriately for the weather to avoid exposure to extreme cold. If you’re going to be outdoors during the fall or winter, wear layers and keep your face and extremities covered.

There’s no denying fall is a beautiful season, but it also brings a higher risk of certain illnesses. By understanding the reasons behind this trend and taking preventive measures, you can enjoy the season to the fullest while staying healthy and vibrant.

Should you or your family fall under the weather this season, give your local CareNow® clinic a visit for care that’s both quick and high quality. Each of our more than 225 locations is open after hours and on the weekends to serve you when you need it most.

Before your visit, take advantage of our Web Check-In® feature so you can wait from the convenience of anywhere. To find the clinic nearest you, visit the CareNow® website to view locations.

We're delighted to announce that we've been awarded the designation of an Accredited Urgent Care Center by the Urgent Care Association (UCA), underscoring our unwavering commitment to providing exceptional patient care.