Return of pre-COVID hygiene habits leads to surge in common cold, sore throats


(Credit: AP)

INDIANAPOLIS– Doctors say there’s a downside to returning to pre-COVID-19 hygiene habits— common colds and sore throats are on the rise.

From social gatherings to traveling, many of the things Americans gave up during the pandemic are beginning again and minor viruses are also making a comeback.

“With people going lax with precautions, we’re starting to see colds, norovirus and of course it’s allergy season,” said Melissa McMasters, an infectious disease expert with the Marion County Public Health Department.

She says easing face mask and social distancing requirements are playing a part.

“I think as we’re easing up, with wearing masks and distancing and even hand washing, you’re going to see things like colds spread,” McMasters said. “We’ve had pockets of other viruses spread in the county.”

Flu numbers hit a record low this year, something McMasters contributes to the protocols in place.

“This is the first time we’ve had a mask requirement in over one hundred years since the last pandemic, so it’s made a difference,” McMasters said.

So how can you tell the difference between a common cold and COVID-19?

“That can be really difficult because some people have a mild case of COVID-19,” McMasters said.
The one hallmark sign of COVID-19 is the loss of taste and smell.”

She recommends getting a free COVID-19 test to be safe.

After 15 months of lows, rates of colds and raspatory viruses are on the rise.

Experts recommend continuing to follow hand washing and wearing a face mask, even if you’re fully vaccinated to avoid a sick day.

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