CHARLOTTE – We all get a runny nose, cough, or sneeze from time to time. In the past, we typically dismissed these symptoms as part of a cold or virus with a plan to recover by resting for a few days. Since the beginning of 2020, those symptoms have totally changed “cold” the game. These symptoms are now mostly associated with COVID-19, a deadly global pandemic that has written history, but the facts are the “common cold” is still out there.
When we would be miserable for a few days, often we would sniffle through it and not get diagnosed and/or see a physician, but often these people would actually have a virus called RSV. Respiratory Syncytial Virus is a viral infection. It mostly affects children under the age of two years old and adults over the age of 65. Most people have never even heard of it for this reason, but in younger children and older adults, the RSV can be very severe and can even lead to death.
All over the county, there has been an unusual increase in cases of RSV recently, and Mint Hill is no different. Dr. Harriet Davis from Novant Health Mint Hill Family Medicine is seeing an increase in her patients, and other physicians are seeing the same thing. Patients are being seen by their family physicians if they have key symptoms for COVID, being tested, and then coming back with a negative result. With respiratory viruses on the rise, physicians are then screening their patients for RSV, and the results are coming back positive with a concerning increase in numbers. Their concern is a focus that the virus seems to be mostly affecting adults in their 20s to 30s, which is odd for a virus that normally would not target this age group.
Each fall and spring there is usually an increase in RSV, but this summer, after people spent the last year masked up, washing their hands, and practicing good social distancing, viruses are now running their courses in the times of the years that would not be expected. The increase has now alerted physicians to start testing for RSV when patients come back with a negative COVID result. The high number of positive results is alerting physicians to advocate for their patients to make their health a priority.
Being healthy is more than just wearing your mask, washing your hands, and social distancing. Maintaining a good healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables with regular exercise along with practicing good mental health plays a part in your overall health. Eating a healthy diet that includes “all the colors of the rainbow,” says Dr. Davis, is just as much a part of staying healthy as the other guidelines that have been displayed. Exercise and using a variety of fruits and vegetables to boost our immune system is a great way to combat health issues overall. The nutrients provide our system with the key components to fighting off viruses and infections. Sugar affects the body that suppresses the immune system for a period of time after ingestion. Everything that is put in our bodies and is around our bodies affects it in some way.
Staying healthy is something the whole world is focused on right now, but COVID-19 shouldn’t be the only thing we’re thinking about. With the rising increase in RSV and other respiratory viruses, now is the time more than ever to make sure you are taking the best care of yourself and helping others as well. The cold weather seasons are right around the corner, and it is time to prepare. Stay healthy and happy. Make sure to exercise and eat a healthy diet.