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The holiday season is a festive time often spent reuniting with family and friends and celebrating at parties. Unfortunately, the holidays happen at the same time as cold and flu season, which creates the perfect environment for viruses to spread. Dr. Jessica Best shares what she’s been seeing in the ER recently and how you can take care of yourself and stay healthy.

What We’re Seeing in the ER

Recently at Ally Medical, there has been a huge increase in patients coming into our emergency room with a range of symptoms, including cough, congestion, sore throat, fever, and body aches. These are all classic symptoms of viruses, and we have had many patients getting diagnoses with flu, COVID, RSV, strep throat, and ear infections.

Why These Viruses are Common This Time of Year

The weather and increased indoor activities both contribute to the increased number of patients we are seeing in the emergency room. The weather is changing, bringing in cooler temperatures and causing people to spend more time indoors. Kids are still in school, which means they are passing germs to each other. And it’s the holiday season, so people are interacting with others they don’t normally see when they go to holiday parties and travel on planes.

All combined, there are an increased number of opportunities for people to spread germs and viruses to each other, which results in increased illness this time of year.

How Viruses Diagnosed and Treated

Ally Medical uses special tests that can identify fifteen different pathogens, which is very helpful in getting our patients diagnosed as quickly as possible. This nasal swab test comes back in 15 minutes and can detect five different bacterial pathogens and ten different viral pathogens. These tests help us diagnose our patients and get them started on the most appropriate treatment.

Depending on the diagnosis and doctor recommendations, some patients may be advised to take antibiotic or antiviral medications to get them feeling better. Other patients may have to wait the infection out and focus instead on symptom management.

If you are feeling sick, you should stay home, rest, and limit contact with others until you are feeling better. Your doctor can give you personalized advice for when you can return to work and school, but the general rule of thumb is you can return when you have been symptom-free for 24 hours. If you go back before you are feeling better, you risk spreading your germs to others.

Tips for Staying Healthy

Stopping the spread of germs is the best way to stay healthy this holiday season and be ready for the new year.

  • Wash your hands often
    • Before and after eating
    • Before and after touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After being around someone who is sick
    • After using the restroom
    • After touching surfaces that come in contact with others often
  • Use hand sanitizer if you can’t wash your hands
  • Wear a mask, especially if you are sick
  • Have gatherings outdoors if possible

Ally Medical

Should you need more urgent medical attention this holiday season or over winter break, Ally Medical is ready to care for you. Ally Medical operates seven emergency rooms in Texas with Austin-area locations in Bastrop, South and Central Austin, Dripping Springs, Round Rock, and Houston-area locations in Clear Lake and Spring. No appointments are needed, and patients can come in 24/7 with little to no wait time. If you can’t wait to get in to see your primary care physician or don’t have one, Ally Medical is here to get you feeling better faster. We will be open every day throughout the holiday season, including Christmas and New Year’s.

Go to to watch Dr. Best share more information about the holiday cold and flu season and tips on how to stay healthy in the New Year.