When is Flu Season? One Easy Way to Win the War Against Winter Viruses5 minute read
When is flu season? It changes yearly. While flu spread is possible year-round, we tend to consider early October to be the beginning of our ‘flu season.’ Historically, our flu season reaches its peak between December and February when humidity levels fall below optimal levels and no longer live within our Healthy Humidity Zone (between 40–60%*).
But flu spread isn’t the only threat that’s posed during our flu season. In fact, several other respiratory viruses circulate during the wintertime, including Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV. Known to be the most common cause of severe respiratory disease in young children and older adults, the prevalence of RSV means that our flu season no longer stops at flu spread. With the addition of RSV season, RSV prevention has become just as important as flu prevention.
So, When is Flu Season?
With so many contributing factors—including rate of flu spread, fluctuating humidity levels, RSV threats, and more—the answer to our ‘when is flu season?’ question remains rather uncertain.
Another contributing factor that’s left a lasting impact on our flu season is COVID-19. As a result of recurring COVID-19 infections over the years, the timing and duration of flu spread and RSV season have become more and more unpredictable. And the effects of global warming aren’t helping slow anything down either.
Staying educated and knowing the best ways to tackle flu and RSV season, however, can help us win the war against winter viruses.
The Differences Between the Flu and RSV
With these winter viruses posing a threat to all, it’s important to know the differences between flu and RSV infections in order to protect everyone around you this season.
What You Should Know About Flu Spread
The flu is a contagious respiratory virus that can have minor or major impacts on our health.
Flu Spread: The How
How exactly does this contagious respiratory virus spread? Well, flu spread occurs as a result of exposure to tiny droplets made when infected parties cough, sneeze, or talk. When those droplets enter the nose or mouth of others nearby, the virus spreads. Infected individuals are most contagious in the first 3–4 days of their illness.
Flu Spread: The Symptoms
What does it feel like to have the flu? Most commonly, those impacted by flu spread tend to notice symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches, fatigue, and headaches.
Flu Spread: The Targets
Are you at risk? While anyone, at any age, can contract the flu virus, a study conducted by the CDC found that children under 18 years of age are twice as likely to get the flu than adults 65 years and older! Though, it’s still important for the general population to ask their doctor about flu shots.
What You Should Know About RSV Season
How is RSV different from the flu? RSV is a common respiratory virus that can cause mild, cold-like symptoms in healthy adults. But for children and the elderly, RSV symptoms can be more severe and require hospitalization.
RSV Spread: The How
How can you contract RSV? When RSV season is in full swing, the virus can be spread similarly to the flu and occur as a result of virus droplets entering your eyes, nose, or mouth. What makes RSV all the more dangerous is that RSV can survive for hours on hard surfaces. This type of direct contact with the virus can increase your risk of infection. Infected individuals are usually contagious within the first 3–8 days of illness.
RSV Spread: The Symptoms
While some symptoms may overlap with flu-like symptoms, most commonly, RSV symptoms can include runny nose, wheezing, fever, sneezing, and coughing.
In infants, symptoms can present differently, so be on the lookout for decreased activity, breathing difficulties, and irritability.
RSV Spread: The Targets
Similarly, anyone can contract RSV, but older adults and young infants are most impacted by RSV season, with the elderly more prone to serious illness due to weakened immune systems. Infection can not only lead to chronic health problems, like asthma, but can exacerbate serious complications, like heart failure.
The Key to RSV Prevention and Stopping Flu Spread This Winter
Despite the weight of these threats, there’s some good news: RSV prevention and stopping flu spread is possible!
Over the years, modern medicine has outlined several ways to stay protected from respiratory illnesses during flu and RSV season, including . . .
Practicing Everyday Safety Measures
Hand washing continues to be an important measure of protection throughout the flu and RSV season. In addition to washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, it’s important to cover coughs and sneezes, regularly clean and disinfect surfaces, and avoid contact with people who are sick for your protection.
Consulting Physicians for Information on Antivirals and Antibody Products
Your primary doctor, depending on your condition, may be able to prescribe you some relief options. Prescribed by health professionals, antiviral medication can be used to help treat those infected with the flu, while monoclonal antibody products can protect children from severe disease as a result of an RSV infection.
Scheduling Yearly Vaccinations
Slowing flu spread and reducing the burden of flu illnesses is possible, thanks to annual flu vaccinations. Recommended for anyone 6 months and older, a flu vaccine serves as an important step in protecting against flu viruses and should be administered at the start of flu season in October.
During RSV season, adults 60 years of age and older can receive the RSV vaccine as a means of RSV prevention and illness protection.
It’s Time to Wage War Against Winter Viruses
These methods can act as important puzzle pieces as we aim to stop flu spread and prioritize RSV prevention, but they aren’t the only way to wage war against winter viruses! You may be surprised to learn about a lesser-known means of protection that helps keep you safe from the dangers of flu spread and RSV season.
It’s clear: Winter viruses aren’t going anywhere anytime soon but, there is one important, and surprisingly easy, way we can all win the war against flu spread and RSV season. Protection and prevention start with humidity control!
How Dry Air and Low Humidity Impact Our Health
While too-high humidity levels can lead to mold and mildew growth and cause unwanted home damages, too-low humidity levels can be just as dangerous.
When the humidity levels in our home are too low, we become surrounded by dry air that can not only harm our homes but our health, too, causing our body’s ability to fight viruses to weaken. In addition, dry air can cause virus particles to shrink up, allowing them to float and linger in the air due to their lighter weight, and tend to survive longer.
As a result, our homes start to become a breeding ground for airborne contaminants, like viruses, and with that comes increased risk of developing illnesses like the flu, COVID-19, and RSV. Combatting low humidity levels and resulting dry air can help you protect your home and family from flu spread and related illness during RSV season!
Stop Flu Spread and Achieve RSV Prevention with AprilAire
Balanced humidity is the answer to this season’s winter virus woes! The impacts of unbalanced humidity can range from mild to extreme, but by balancing the humidity levels in your home between 40–60%* year-round, you can turn your home into a safe haven from the outside world.
To foster a Healthy Home environment, install an AprilAire Whole-House Humidifier. Not only can you combat dry air, but you can also reap the many benefits that come along with proper humidity control! AprilAire Whole-House Humidifiers help to reduce incidence of airborne bacteria, viruses, dust, and more unwanted contaminants that can promote flu spread, cause short- and long-term respiratory impacts, and put you at risk during RSV season.
By ensuring your home’s humidity levels fall between 40–60%* year-round, you can enjoy the health benefits of Healthy Air and increase your home’s comfort level while protecting it from damages like warping or cracking.
Of course, it’s important to remember that outdoor temperatures and other home factors could impact relative humidity levels. Talk with your AprilAire Healthy Air Professional to learn what’s attainable and recommended for your unique home.
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