Have you Gotten Sick Yet this Year?

A child in bed with a cold
COVID, the flu, RSV, and the common cold. if its not one thing, it's another.

I have not fallen ill yet this year, but I just had the third meeting in the past month postponed due to someone’s illness. I don’t remember that happening before the pandemic. This leads me to the question: Are we more paranoid now than we were four years ago, or are respiratory viruses that much worse than they were before 2020?

The answer may be “both.”

Since the pandemic raised everybody’s fear of catching COVID, or at least their awareness, more people are visiting their doctor and getting tested when they have COVID-like symptoms. The testing reveals if they have COVID, the flu or RSV.

As a result, it appears RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), which usually sickens infants and young children, is more prevalent in adults than though prior to COVID. Because RSV usually presents as a cold in adults, it may simply be that people between 12 and 60 who got RSV before 2020 figured they just had a cold. Without testing, there was no way to know what the specific virus was, so people with RSV were told they had a cold and to go home, rest, and treat the symptoms.

That advice is still valid unless you have a fever over 104°F, can’t take a deep breath, or are turning blue from lack of oxygen. (Keep in mind that I am not a doctor and this article should not be construed as medical advice.)

COVID Rebounds

I can’t remember the last time someone I knew got COVID. It’s been months. Yet COVID is supposedly making a comeback, although this latest version won’t get you as sick and is less lethal. It may be that COVID is lessening in power and is going to be just another winter illness we try to avoid, much like the flu.

While the lockdowns and oppression we suffered because of COVID are behind us, the virus remains. And like the flu, there may be mild years and bad years. Because the virus evolves, we cannot expect it to only weaken; there may be variants that aremore serious.

What can you do to avoid COVID, the flu or RSV? Just take some basic precautions, like washing your hands, Try not to rub your eyes in public, and avoid people who sneeze and cough. If you have one or more kids in school, good luck. Avoiding the common cold, flu or other seasonal illnesses will be harder because classrooms are like Grand Central for viruses.

I don’t blame people for canceling meetings; they are doing it to be polite and to protect me and the other attendees from getting sick. People who used to load up on cold meds and push home are taking sick time and staying home now. It is just another example of the unintended consequences of the pandemic.

Disease Post SHTF

After a SHTF disaster, survivors may find themselves in a world in which there is little or no global or regional travel. That may slow the spread of viruses or cause some to die off when they cannot find anew host. Air travel today helps viruses travel from places like China to Europe and the U.S. Troop transports and packing soldiers into barracks supposedly helped transmit the Spanish Flu during WWI. If the population drops significantly because of a disaster and you rarely travel further than you can walk, then how will a new virus that developed in China reach you in your retreat? It probably won’t, at least until there’s a recovery.

The other side of that equation is people will lose their resistance to some viruses over time. A healthy immune system is constantly fighting off foreign invaders, and it usually wins. But if years or decades pass with no new viruses coming around to test your immune system, it will weaken. When you are exposed, you could be as helpless as a Native American exposed to diseases brought to the New World by Europeans.

We make sure our prepping medical kit contains plenty of OTC cold and flu medications, as well as analgesics, cough suppressants, expectorants, and cough drops and lozenges. The biggest challenge is making sure they aren’t all ten years old. We find it easier to rotate food than OTC meds. For example, I recently opened a bottle of hydrogen peroxide that has an expiration date of 2010. Despite its age, it works just fine.

Christmas Travel

This is a busy time in airports, and you can bet a good number of people filling the hallways and crowding onto planes are carrying something that is contagious. If you are traveling for Christmas, your odds of coming down with something by New Year’s Day are going up. That’s why we used to drive, whenever possible.

Speaking of Christmas, be careful if you travel this year. Also, we have family coming here, so expect me to cut back on the number of posts over the long weekend.

Wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas!