A new survey shows that a large percentage of Americans feel wintertime sicknesses are unavoidable, but the American Osteopathic Association says that there’s a lot you can do to ward off cold-weather ailments.
‘Tis the season to be jolly … and to get colds and flu.
Flu activity can pick up as early as October and last until March, according to historic data from the CDC, but it usually peaks around February. And according to a recent study commissioned by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), 42 percent of Americans believe that getting sick during cold and flu season is inevitable.
The biggest culprits, according to those surveyed, are the workplace, public transportation, home, gyms, bars or restaurants, and places of worship. It’s easy to see why Americans think sickness is unavoidable: If you can get sick at home, at work, and out in public places like buses, churches, and gyms, where are you safe?
While late last year the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners launched an initiative to educate the public on the facts about the flu. AOA’s Rob Danoff, an osteopathic family physician, adds to that conversation with a roundup of preventative tips to ward off illnesses.
His tips include some of the usual suspects—get the flu shot and wash your hands—but they’re coupled with interesting and perhaps little-known facts that showcase the osteopathic philosophy of medicine.
For instance, Danoff recommends getting outside when the sun shines to increase your levels of vitamin D. “Take a morning or afternoon walk to soak up sparse rays during the winter months and you’ll boost both your mood and your immunity,” he said.
Another suggestion is stay social. “People have a tendency to ‘socially hibernate’ during winter,” according to Danoff. “Humans are social beings and positive interactions with friends improves mood and wards off depression, which can compromise the immune system.”
These last two tips, in particular, highlight how osteopathic physicians (DOs) give slightly different recommendations based on their specific philosophy, said Charlie Simpson, AOA’s SVP and chief communications officer.
“DOs tend to be more focused on the whole person—the mind, body, spirit, so they’re going to want to know more than just the symptoms, but what’s going on with your life … and trying to get to the heart of the matter and actually treat the cause rather than just the symptoms,” Simpson said.
For AOA, the ultimate goal of this survey is to gain traction with not only media outlets and digital and social channels but also consumers.
“These kinds of surveys really do a lot for us to help catch peoples’ attention with a timely news issue and help build awareness about osteopathic physicians—who we are and what we do,” Simpson said.