INDIANAPOLIS –The “return to normal” has been one of the most overused terms of the past year.
For many people that has meant returning to the work, personal, and social lives put on pause by the pandemic. But as masks continue to drop and social distancing fades, the “return to normal” has also meant the return of something else.
Doctors and health care professionals say they’re now seeing more patients sporting the common cold, the flu and a number of other respiratory issues.
“It’s not a surge by any means–it’s more of a return to normal,” said Dr. Anthony Zabel with IU Health.
For roughly a year, numerous respiratory issues were held back by the use of face masks, social distancing and an increased focus on general hygiene.
Now that those practices are fading, Zabel says what’s following should send a pretty clear message.
“I think the takeaway message from the significantly lower rates of respiratory infection while everyone wore masks and socially distanced is that little things can go a long way. And so, what I think most people should take away from the low rates of cold and flu over the winter is if you’re sick, stay home. Don’t share this with others because just by doing that one simple step, you can prevent five of your acquaintances from getting sick who then spread it to five more,” Zabel said.
Zabel admits it would be unrealistic to maintain the level of precaution we have for the past year on a permanent basis. Still, there are some best practices that can be maintained such as staying home if sick, wearing a face mask if out in public and sick, washing hands regularly and practicing social distancing when necessary.
“If you can get the infection to stop with you by staying home until you feel better, not only are you helping the immediate close contacts but also a decent chunk of the community,” Zabel said.
Zabel says the use of vitamins like C, D, and zinc can also help, but maintains the basic message that there’s plenty we can learn from the past year that could help us in the future.
“It’s a little thing that can go a long way to keep your friends and neighbors healthier.”