CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - It’s officially runny nose and coughing season and with the temperatures finally starting to feel like fall, Trident Medical Center says you need to pay attention to your health.

The hospital says there’s been a 3% increase in respiratory illnesses week over week in the outpatient areas nationwide, adding the number of respiratory illness cases has doubled within their own facilities in recent

Although the number of cases is about the same, or even a little bit lower, in comparison to November of last year, Chief Medical Officer of Trident Health, Dr. Jane Appleby says it doesn’t mean you should ignore them.

Appleby says respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19 or the flu are higher now this season than during the 2021-2022 season.

The Centers for Disease Control has reported one influenza-associated pediatric death this flu season. During this same week last year, there were eight.

Trident Medical says they don’t keep track as much of who’s vaccinated for the flu in comparison to who’s testing positive the way they did during peak COVID-19 times. Appleby still emphasizes that the vaccine does lower your chances of getting sick and the severity of the illness in case you were to still test positive.

“One of my favorite sayings is the best time to be vaccinated is right now,” Appleby says. “You know, sometimes we don’t have the exact knowledge about what virus that we had, but we do know that being vaccinated is a safe and easy way to keep yourself safe and free of illness.”

Appleby adds that she knows vaccinations for influenza and COVID-19 are an individual’s choice but recommends them regardless. She lists a couple of best practices to stay ahead of the game this flu season.

“Great handwashing,” Appleby said. “If you have a cough, cover it if you’re sick. It’s best to stay home. Wearing a mask is effective in diminishing transmission of the virus transmission. Being aware of being in small places or crowded places where viruses can be easily spread. So, airflow is important. And we’ve already mentioned vaccination.”

Appleby says if you are currently sick with an upper respiratory illness, to stay home and stay hydrated. If you’re experiencing shortness of breath or having trouble swallowing, contact your primary care provider to get some advice.

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