Tips on How to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

Young woman gives golden gift box wearing a protective Face maks for Covid-19, present and Coronavirus concept. social distance background

December 20, 2021 by Judy A. Dunal, MD, a Hingham resident and an internal medicine primary care provider at Brigham and Women’s Harbor Medical Associates

It is the time of year when family and friends gather, celebrate together, and share the joy of the holiday season. These gatherings may also inadvertently share more than holiday cheer, and instead, put your loved ones at risk for contracting coronavirus, influenza, strep and even a common cold virus.

It is important to be proactive and devise ways to help keep you, your family, and friends healthy during the holiday season. The medical community suggests the following tips for keeping healthy:

  • Please get vaccinated for COVID, influenza and if applicable, pneumonia. These vaccines are tremendously important in boosting our immune systems.
  • The CDC now recommends that everyone age 16 and older obtain the COVID booster, and routine COVID vaccines are available for children over 5.
  • Wear your mask correctly, with the more rigid edge folded gently over the bridge of the nose and the lower edge under the chin for optimal benefit. It is not necessary to wear 2 masks, as a properly fitted basic surgical type mask is adequate in most situations.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds after you return home from being out, if you sneeze or cough, or after you have interacted with others. This is a tremendous and easy way to reduce germ transfer.
  • Practice social distancing, by remaining cautiously distanced by 6 feet from others who do not share your household.
  • Recognize that COVID may generate typical upper respiratory symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, sinus congestion, sore throat, in addition to more unusual symptoms of loss of taste or smell, and diarrhea – but may also cause more subtle symptoms as sinus congestion, sniffles, sneezing, ear pain or infections, and importantly, COVID can cause NO symptoms. Some of these individuals who feel well and therefore do not recognize they are infected may continue their routine activities and spread their infection. Please don’t go out to shop or dine or interact socially if you feel sick or have been exposed to someone who has recently tested positive for COVID-19.
  • GET TESTED if you don’t feel well or if you are exposed – the standard evaluation for COVID remains PCR testing and there are many sites that are available for this testing. Home tests are also helpful. However, some individuals may not respond to the PCR or home tests and their test results may be negative even if they have the virus (a ‘false ‘ negative), so that patients with known exposures or persistent symptoms may elect to contact their health care provider to review next steps.
  • Quarantine if you don’t feel well-remember that even a cold is spread through respiratory secretions

Always reach out to your primary care provider with any concerns you may have.
You can learn more about how to manage your health during the winter months from the experts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital on the Brigham Health Hub.

Judy Dunal, MD, a Hingham resident and an internal medicine primary care provider at Brigham and Women’s Harbor Medical Associates at the Hingham Shipyard

Sponsored by Mass General Brigham.



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