WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It’s been said time and time again during this pandemic, stay home if you’re sick or do not feel well.

Viruses like COVID-19, the flu or RSV are highly contagious and spread quickly.

“When we’re talking, when we’re coughing, sneezing, particles are released into the air and they’re so small that they can just re-circulate,” United Reginal Family Medicine Physician Andrew Pande, M.D. said. “They can stay in the area and on those particles is virus.”

They spread, sometimes before you even know you’re sick.

“If you have not been vaccinated and you have never had COVID, your chance of getting it is higher and you can actually spread it before you even develop symptoms,” Pande said.

Pande said if you’re experiencing symptoms, get cleared with a test before going about your daily life.

“When you’re waiting for those results, you’re called a patient under investigation or a PUI and you’re treated as if you did have the illness,” Pande said. “The good thing is that the testing is coming back really quickly now.”

While there is no cure for COVID-19, there are some things you can do once exposed.

“It’s very good to get a high amount of Vitamin C, you can get that in fruit, you can get that in over-the-counter medications and that will boost your immune system,” Pande said. “Once you get the illness or once you start getting ill, if you can take zinc and eat a regular healthy diet, that can shorten the course of your illness.”

Protecting yourself and others doesn’t just apply in a pandemic.

“In general, protecting yourself against an illness starts long before getting an illness,” Pande said. “That’s things like maintaining yourself in good physical shape, eating healthy, getting good rest, controlling your stress levels.”

Pande emphasized these viruses don’t affect everyone the same, especially RSV, which affects young children greatly and was essentially non-existent last year.

“This year since we’ve kind of returned to normalcy, there has been a surge of these cases,” Pande said. “It can cause pneumonia, it can cause them to have trouble breathing.”

The best thing you can do is take measures to keep the illness to yourself.

“Sickness, in general, disrupts our life and it’s very hard to get out of that routine, but the reality is when you’re sick, when you have symptoms, you’re better off keeping the illness in one place,” Pande said.

So stay home if you’re sick and don’t take the risk.

Dr. Pande said of course thoroughly washing your hands with soap and warm water, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated are all crucial measures of staying healthy.

He began practicing last month at United Regional and is accepting new patients of all ages, including children.