The unimaginable combination of COVID, R.S.V., and the flu has been referred to as the tripledemic. These viruses are spreading throughout the United States at rapid paces, leaving those who are affected with undesirable and dangerous side effects. In addition to this, the tripledemic has caused medicine shortages because of the high demand. So, how is this going to impact you? Here’s what you need to know about the tripledemic and its potential effects on you and your loved ones.
What Do You Need To Know About the Tripledemic?
COVID-19 was the pandemic that rocked the world. Though it is becoming safer to venture out for some people, many vulnerable people, such as those with chronic illnesses, the elderly, or young children, still rely on masks and social distancing to protect themselves. But COVID is far from being “old news,” with almost half a million positive cases each week.
Of course, it wasn’t too long ago that the influenza pandemic was the talk of the nation as well—and the influenza viruses (A and B) are still sweeping through households, schools, and other public places. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the number of flu cases is at a peak height right now in the United States.
On top of the flu and COVID, respiratory syncytial virus (R.S.V.) has made its presence known throughout the states. In fact, the number of cases of R.S.V. is much higher than normal right now than it usually is at this time of year. Though anyone can get this virus (as with the others), infants and children are especially susceptible. Plus, children, the elderly population, and people with weakened immune systems from chronic illnesses are more likely to have severe symptoms if they fall ill because their bodies cannot fight off the viruses.
With a record number of cases of R.S.V., the U.S. being at the height of flu season, and the spread of COVID still not fully contained, we have entered what some people are calling a tripledemic. With these viruses stacked on top of one another comes many overlapping symptoms, including:
- Body aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
- Nasal congestion
- Difficulty breathing
If you get one (or more) of these viruses and you are struggling with the symptoms, your doctor might tell you to stay home, get plenty of rest, and take over-the-counter medicine to alleviate your discomfort. But this is where the side effects of the tripledemic start to come into play.
Unfortunately for many parents, caretakers, and sick patients alike, finding this medication has become an unexpected challenge.
How Does the Tripledemic Affect Medicine Supply?
Right now, the demand for children’s fever-reducing medicine has been particularly high. Products such as Tylenol and Motrin are almost impossible to find if you just run out to any pharmacy or drugstore. This is because of the tripledemic symptoms described above. Fever, cough, body aches, and general discomfort in children are all symptoms that can typically be alleviated with Tylenol or ibuprofen.
The companies that produce these medications state that there is not a shortage. They are producing the same materials at the same rate as before. However, there are simply more and more people who are in need of these medications. The demand has increased but the production has not at this time.
Some stores are taking action and limiting the amount of children’s medications you can buy at one time. This way, people are only getting what they need and not an excess of supplies. Furthermore, customers are encouraged to try generic or non-name brand varieties of these medications.
That said, experts caution users to heed the dosage guidelines on the bottles or the dosing instructions their doctors have given to them. Though it can be tempting to just give a smaller amount of adult medication to children who are feeling the pain of the tripledemic, the truth of the matter is that there is no safe way to do this. If your child needs medication but you do not have the right type of medicine for them, you will need to resort to other methods to help them for the time being.
What Can You Do If You Need Medicine?
If you or someone you care for is left feeling miserable, running a fever, or experiencing other symptoms and you have no medication, there are alternative ways to get some relief. First and foremost, staying hydrated is essential to the healing process during the tripledemic. So is allowing your body to rest.
In some cases, at-home remedies for congestion, sore throats, and body aches could be enough to help you feel better. But it’s always important to follow up with your doctor before trying any new treatments to make sure that they are right for you. If you do have symptoms of one of the three viruses going around, you will also want to carefully monitor your vital signs. Labored breathing is a common tripledemic symptom and one that should be taken seriously.
When you are considered high risk for these illnesses, keeping track of your symptoms is even more important. Be aware that many hospitals, especially pediatric units, are at capacity right now, meaning that they do not have space available for those who are not considered to be in life-threatening condition.
That said, if your child has COVID, R.S.V., or the flu and is having difficulty breathing or running a high fever that doesn’t respond to medication, contact their pediatrician. Furthermore, for children under 6 months of age who have a fever or any other urgent symptoms, seek out immediate medical attention. This is true for immunocompromised people as well.
Experts recommend that if you are not feeling well, wear a mask, stay home, and treat the symptoms as needed. If you feel that you need medication and aren’t able to access them, reach out to a medical professional for advice on the next steps you can take.
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