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Top 4 Fall Illnesses and How to Prevent Them

Key Points

  • Fall season exposes your immune system to various bacteria and viruses, with common illnesses such as the flu, seasonal allergies, common colds, and sore throats becoming prevalent.
  • The flu is a serious illness that can lead to more severe conditions like pneumonia or bronchitis. Prevention methods include getting the flu shot annually, washing hands regularly, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoiding crowded spaces, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Seasonal allergies, though not an illness, can be quite discomforting. To prevent symptoms, check daily pollen count and air quality reports, keep windows closed, and shower after spending time outdoors.
  • Common colds and sore throats are highly contagious but can be prevented by maintaining good hygiene, avoiding crowded spaces, getting enough sleep, and eating a balanced diet. For sore throats, using an indoor air humidifier and not sharing food or drink can help.
  • If you fall sick during the fall, consider going to an urgent care center rather than the ER as it's more convenient, less expensive, and typically has shorter wait times.

Fall can be a magical time—crisp air, colorful trees, and holidays galore. It can also be a time when your immune system is exposed to a number of bacteria and viruses that weren’t a concern in the summer. Especially with children heading back to school, many common fall illnesses will be ramping up once again.

As with any kind of communicable illness, prevention is the best method of protection. Some simple measures can help you keep yourself, your family, and those around you free from unpleasant health conditions. Below, learn about four of the most common illnesses that happen during fall, along with tips for preventing them.

Top 4 Fall Illnesses and How to Prevent Them

Key Points

  • Fall season exposes your immune system to various bacteria and viruses, with common illnesses such as the flu, seasonal allergies, common colds, and sore throats becoming prevalent.
  • The flu is a serious illness that can lead to more severe conditions like pneumonia or bronchitis. Prevention methods include getting the flu shot annually, washing hands regularly, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, avoiding crowded spaces, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Seasonal allergies, though not an illness, can be quite discomforting. To prevent symptoms, check daily pollen count and air quality reports, keep windows closed, and shower after spending time outdoors.
  • Common colds and sore throats are highly contagious but can be prevented by maintaining good hygiene, avoiding crowded spaces, getting enough sleep, and eating a balanced diet. For sore throats, using an indoor air humidifier and not sharing food or drink can help.
  • If you fall sick during the fall, consider going to an urgent care center rather than the ER as it's more convenient, less expensive, and typically has shorter wait times.

Fall can be a magical time—crisp air, colorful trees, and holidays galore. It can also be a time when your immune system is exposed to a number of bacteria and viruses that weren’t a concern in the summer. Especially with children heading back to school, many common fall illnesses will be ramping up once again.

As with any kind of communicable illness, prevention is the best method of protection. Some simple measures can help you keep yourself, your family, and those around you free from unpleasant health conditions. Below, learn about four of the most common illnesses that happen during fall, along with tips for preventing them.

Fall Illness 1: The Flu

Ah, the dreaded flu. Come October, flu season will be in full swing and will last all the way through May. This is one fall illness you really want to prevent—the flu can turn into a more severe illness, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. There have also been reported deaths from the flu

The symptoms of the flu are terrible and can include:

  • Sudden, excessive fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • A persistent cough
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Wheezing and congestion
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting

Tips for preventing the flu

The flu is caused by a virus that spreads from person to person. The cooler weather and close proximity to other children at school make the flu more likely. The best method of prevention for the flu is to get the flu shot every year.

Other ways to prevent the spread of the flu virus are:

  • Wash your hands well and often
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid crowded spaces when possible
  • Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, and try to keep your stress levels low—all lifestyle factors that can affect your immune system’s ability to stave off viral infection

Fall Illness 2: Seasonal Allergies

While technically not an illness, people who suffer from seasonal allergies would agree that the symptoms of fall allergies feel a lot like being straight up sick. In the fall, mold spores and ragweed are the most common allergens present in the air.

Common seasonal allergy symptoms can include:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Temporary loss of smell
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Snoring
  • Watery and itchy eyes
  • Ear congestion
  • Itchy sinuses or throat
  • Postnasal drainage

Tips for preventing seasonal allergy symptoms

There’s no cure for seasonal allergies but they can be prevented and managed relatively easily. The best ways to prevent seasonal allergy symptoms are:

Fall Illness 3: Common Colds

There are more than 3 million cases of colds each year, hence the “common” in the phrase. Colds can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and are highly contagious. Colds are spread through skin-to-skin contact, saliva, touching contaminated surfaces, and airborne respiratory droplets.

Tips for preventing the common cold

Unlike the flu, there’s no vaccine available for a cold. That’s largely due to their being so many different viruses that can cause a cold. Your best methods of prevention for colds are similar to preventing the flu:

  • Wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom, and periodically throughout the day
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid crowded spaces when possible
  • Get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and try to keep your stress levels low—these lifestyle factors that can affect your immune system’s ability to stave off a cold

Fall Illness 4: Sore Throats

As the air turns cooler, you may notice your throat feeling scratchy. Soon, that could turn to a full-blown sore throat. While it’s true that a sore throat can be a symptom of a cold, the flu, and allergies, it’s also an illness all on its own. It could be strep throat—or just soreness caused by changing weather and so many viruses in the air. Did you know that sore throats are almost always caused by viral infections?

Tips for preventing sore throats

  • Use an indoor air humidifier — Putting moisture back in the air can help keep your throat from feeling sore in the fall.
  • Wash your hands, cover your mouth, and avoid crowded spaces — These things may seem unrelated but can help prevent the spread of contagious viral infections that cause sore throats.
  • Don’t share food, drink, or utensils — Sharing is caring, except when it comes to infections. Avoid this all the time but especially in the fall and winter when contagious illnesses are at their peak.

Go to urgent care if you fall sick during the fall

For minor illnesses, urgent care is a much better option than the ER and is more convenient than waiting for an appointment at your doctor’s office. Especially if you use Solv to make an appointment, you’ll be seen a lot faster — most patients wait less than 20 minutes to see a medical provider. Urgent care is also a lot less expensive. On average, out of pocket urgent care visits cost $50. At the ER, visits average $278. For minor, acute illnesses, a trip to urgent care will get you answers and relief a whole lot faster than the ER, and at a fraction of the cost.

Frequently asked questions

  • What are some common illnesses that occur during fall?

    Some common illnesses that occur during fall include the flu, seasonal allergies, common colds, and sore throats.
  • How can the flu be prevented?

    The best method of prevention for the flu is to get the flu shot every year. Other ways to prevent the spread of the flu virus are washing your hands well and often, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoiding crowded spaces when possible, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

    Common seasonal allergy symptoms can include a runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, temporary loss of smell, headache, fatigue, sore throat, coughing, snoring, watery and itchy eyes, ear congestion, itchy sinuses or throat, and postnasal drainage.
  • How can seasonal allergy symptoms be prevented?

    Seasonal allergy symptoms can be prevented by checking the daily pollen count, checking your city’s air quality report before spending time outside, keeping your car and home windows closed, and taking a shower after spending time outside.
  • What are some tips for preventing the common cold?

    Some tips for preventing the common cold include washing your hands before eating, after using the restroom, and periodically throughout the day, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoiding crowded spaces when possible, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • How can sore throats be prevented?

    Sore throats can be prevented by using an indoor air humidifier, washing your hands, covering your mouth, avoiding crowded spaces, and not sharing food, drink, or utensils.
  • What should I do if I fall sick during the fall?

    If you fall sick during the fall, it is recommended to go to urgent care. Urgent care is a much better option than the ER and is more convenient than waiting for an appointment at your doctor’s office.
  • What is the average cost of an urgent care visit?

    On average, out of pocket urgent care visits cost $50. This is significantly less than the average ER visit, which costs $278.

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