The change of the seasons is in full swing throughout the country, and the United States is heading towards another cold and flu season in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Children returning to school amid the dangerous politicization of public health attempts to increase vaccination and promote mitigation measures such as masks and social distancing has created a risk-filled environment for many across the country.

We’ve previously covered the differences between asthma, allergies, and COVID infection. It is even more vital to know the difference between symptoms for viral conditions such as a cold, the flu, and COVID-19. All three are spread in similar ways and share symptoms, but have varied incubation time and severity.

  • COVID-19 (coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) most common symptoms are a fever, cough and tiredness; other symptoms include muscle aches, sneezing, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, nausea, diarrhea, and loss of smell/taste. Symptoms can appear anywhere between 2-14 days after exposure, during which time an infected individual can spread the coronavirus even if asymptomatic (not presenting symptoms). Complications can include blood clots and multisystem inflammatory syndrome. Most hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 can be prevented with a vaccine. Many symptoms of COVID-19 can be lessened with antiviral medications.
  • Colds (rhinoviruses) have similar symptoms to the novel coronavirus, but do not include diarrhea or nausea. Symptoms of a common cold usually appear one to three days after exposure. Colds are only transmissible while a person is symptomatic. There is no vaccine or cure for the common cold. Treatment may include pain relievers and over-the-counter cold remedies such as decongestants. Unlike COVID-19, a cold is usually harmless; most people recover from a common cold in 3-10 days.
  • The flu (influenza) has the same symptoms as COVID-19, but rarely causes loss of smell/taste. Flu symptoms usually appear about one to four days after exposure to an influenza virus. The flu is generally only transmissible while symptomatic and does not pose the same risk of severe illness as COVID-19. There are several antiviral treatments available to treat the flu, and an annual vaccine reduces the risk of infection and/or severe illness. The flu vaccine can be given as an injection or as a nasal spray.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a confirmed exposure, it’s important that you contact a healthcare provider right away for medical advice. Tests are available to confirm diagnosis of COVID-19 and/or the flu. Stay home from work or school if you are sick.

Even if you have been fully vaccinated, wearing a mask and practicing social distancing reduces the

Read more

Reproductive freedom is a civil right and abortion is an essential part of healthcare. Approximately one in five people capable of getting pregnant will have an abortion by age 30, and one in four by age 45. Multiple studies indicate that the inability to recieve abortion care places pregnant individuals further into poverty and harms their health as well as the wellbeing of their current and future children. Many people lack the means and access to decide whether to continue a pregnancy. Limits on federal funding for abortions cause significant harm to low-income people — particularly communities of color, LGTBQIA people, and residents of rural areas.

The ability to access abortion in a timely manner is critical to the health and safety of individuals seeking care. Delays in access increases the risk that a person may experience a medical complication and negatively impacts their social, emotional, and psychological well-being overall. Abortions later in pregnancy also cost more than procedures performed

Read more

Photo by Dakota Roos

Summer has arrived in the United States. Over the following months, it will be important to protect ourselves from the health risks posed by the sun and heat. Regardless of skin color, exposure to the sun carries many dangers to one’s skin — from wrinkles often associated with aging to freckles, sunburns, benign tumors, or cancerous skin lesions. Exposure to heat can also have many negative impacts on one’s health ranging from a rash, exhaustion, fainting, or even death. During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, being in crowded areas with unvaccinated people — even outside — without appropriate protection measures can pose health risks to those around them.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages everyone — especially those with pale skin; blond, red, or light brown hair; or who has a personal or family history of skin cancer — to practice care while in the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes, and

Read more

From teen years through adulthood, people spend much of their time at work. A culture of wellness in the workplace can be an important factor in overall health by promoting and supporting healthy behaviors. It’s important that both employees and employers take steps to create an environment that promotes health and well-being. Although employees are always in control of their own choices to improve health, employers can create a culture of wellness by implementing policies and providing services that support employees’ efforts towards a healthy lifestyle. When employees and employers work together to create healthier worksites, people can get healthier and be happier and more productive at work.

Employers can promote wellness among their workforce with diverse activities such as on-site health education, access to free medical screenings, on-site kitchens and healthy food options, financial or other incentives for healthy habits such as being tobacco-free,

Read more

Public health is “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.” Analyzing the health of a population and the threats it faces is the basis for public health. Public health professionals work to prevent problems from happening or recurring through implementing educational programs, recommending policies, administering services, and conducting research. Public health also works to limit health disparities by promoting healthcare equity, quality, and accessibility. You can look at public health narrowed down to any population — from a neighborhood, country, or our entire planet.

Many factors affect public health, and people are unlikely to be able to directly control those factors. Social and economic environment, as well as physical environment, can be determine their quality

Read more