Hello, health-conscious readers, friends, and patients! The Xpress Wellness Urgent Care team has created a 2023 guide for everything you need to know about COVID-19, the flu, and strep throat.
Seasonal illness is never fun, but sometimes the fall and winter seasons bring on a variety of sicknesses that can make it seem like they will never end, especially in Oklahoma and Kansas, where seasonal allergies lead right into the long cold and flu season. (Hello, dead grass!) In this guide, we will keep things brief and helpful as we navigate lots of information about the illnesses you, your children, coworkers, friends, or family may encounter this fall and winter.
COVID-19 – The Latest Scoop
What’s Up with COVID-19 in 2023? COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is not new anymore, but you may have heard it mentioned more frequently in the last couple of months. Right now, all signs point to an upcoming resurgence of COVID-19 among already-circulating variants and in a new variant. Hospitalizations have risen recently, and updated booster vaccines are rolling out to protect individuals against the virus.
Two variants nicknamed “Eris” and “Fornax” make up the largest share of infections in the United States right now. The BA.2.86 Omicron subvariant, nicknamed “Pirola,” is the newest being tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You may hear these names over the next few months, but they are all variants of COVID-19.
COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms include fever, cough, and loss of taste or smell. The symptoms of the newest variant, include runny nose, headaches, fatigue and a sore throat–which are similar symptoms to those we have come to associate with the virus.
COVID-19 prevention is crucial! The COVID-19 vaccine and follow-up booster shots are still your best protection and first line of defense against this virus. Stay updated on your boosters as vaccines roll out this fall and winter.
The Flu – Not Just a Runny Nose
Remember the good old flu? Influenza, as it’s known in medical circles, will return again in 2023. Perhaps it has already returned to your household or workplace.
Flu symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Body aches
You know the drill, right? If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should stay home, rest, and increase your fluid intake. Flu-like symptoms make a virtual urgent care online visit a no-brainer. Simply choose an appointment time that works with your schedule, and a provider will see you from the comfort of your home.
In 2023, the best way to fight the flu is with the influenza vaccine. It’s like putting on armor against the flu! But remember, the flu is crafty and mutates quickly. Researchers create the annual flu vaccine each year using the best data available to determine which flu strains will be most common. Receiving the flu vaccine annually is the best chance to avoid the illness throughout this fall and winter.
Strep Throat – The Sore Story
Enough with the viruses. Let’s talk bacteria. Strep throat, caused by group A Streptococcus, is an illness that is a pain in the throat. Strep affects people of all ages but most commonly is seen in children ages five through 15.
What’s your game plan for dealing with strep throat in 2023? If you have school-aged children in your home, you could experience strep throat in your home this fall or winter. Treating strep is all about getting antibiotics prescribed by a provider. Therefore, visiting an Xpress Wellness Urgent Care clinic in person is wise to get a rapid strep test.
Our providers can swab your throat and let you know if you test positive for strep throat. After that, the provider will likely prescribe an antibiotic, and you will be ready for healthier days ahead.
Staying Ahead of the Game
Prevention is the name of the game for COVID-19, strep, the flu, and a myriad of other seasonal illnesses.
The rules and guidance for preventing illness remain the same:
- Wash those hands! Good hygiene is a must.
- Face masks might still be part of your fashion. If you are feeling ill, reach for a mask. If illness spikes in your area, you may mask in public places like the grocery store, church, or other high-traffic or high-density locations.
- Although we were first introduced to social distancing in 2020, it is more than just a fad. Keep your distance from others when you can and prevent the spread of germs.
Interesting Facts and Myths – Debunked!
Even though being sick is rarely fun, there are some peculiar, but interesting, facts about seasonal illnesses. We’re also debunking a few myths about COVID-19, the flu, and strep throat.
- COVID-19 and Pets: Did you know that pets like dogs and cats can get COVID-19, but it’s rare? In 2023, there’s no need to panic about your furry friends.
- Flu Origins: The influenza virus can be traced back to birds and pigs. That’s right; sometimes, it’s like a real-life science fiction story in the animal kingdom!
- Strep Throat and Age: Strep throat is most common among kids, but adults can get it too. So, don’t think you’re entirely immune in your grown-up years.
- “The Flu Shot Gives You the Flu”: Nope, not true! The influenza vaccine might give you mild side effects like a sore arm or a low-grade fever, but it can’t give you the flu.
- “Antibiotics Cure All Sore Throats”: While antibiotics are magic for strep throat, they won’t do a thing for viral sore throats or the flu. Save those antibiotics for the proper battle.
- “Face Masks Deprive You of Oxygen”: Don’t worry; masks won’t leave you gasping for air. They’re safe to wear and essential and can provide added protection in crowded or indoor settings, especially during the flu season or when COVID-19 is still a concern.
Staying Healthy and Happy
Let’s not forget the importance of our mental health this fall and winter. Dealing with health issues can be stressful. It’s okay to seek support, talk to friends and family, or consult a mental health professional. Xpress Wellness Behavioral Health provides counseling services online and in person for Oklahoma residents. If you’re feeling down or unlike yourself, reach out for help. We’re all in this together!
Resources for Further Reading
Want to dive deeper into COVID-19, flu, and strep throat? Here are some excellent resources to keep you well-informed in 2023:
The CDC’s website is a goldmine of information on all things health-related, from COVID-19 guidelines to flu prevention tips and more. Check them out at www.cdc.gov.
For a global perspective on health issues, WHO is your go-to source. Their website, www.who.int, provides updates on the latest developments in health worldwide.
The NIH offers valuable insights into various health conditions. You can find reliable information at www.nih.gov.
- Local Health Departments
Your local health department’s website is an excellent resource for region-specific updates, vaccination sites, and guidelines. Just search for your city or county health department online. Visit the Oklahoma Department of Health or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Stay Safe, Seek Help, Be Healthy
Thank you for reading our guide to COVID-19, flu, and strep throat in 2023. Remember to stay informed, keep up with your vaccinations, practice good hygiene, and stay mentally and physically healthy.
Health is a journey, and we’re here to be a part of the team keeping you healthy this year. Xpress Wellness Urgent Care is found across Oklahoma and Kansas to serve your health and wellness needs. Online check-in is just a click away. We’ll see you soon!