Cold and Flu Prevention

Cold and flu season is now upon all of us; we are all at risk, we all know that we should be getting flu shots, especially if you are considered high risk, and ideally you should get the flu shot before December, when flu season starts to hit its hardest. The flu can be a very devastating illness and can lead to complications of other medical issues and cause death.  Colds?  You just don’t want to feel crappy, so we should really try our best to prevent both, right?  Prevent illness in yourself and others, and you will be a MUCH happier person this winter!

The Flu Virus

Who is considered High Risk?
Per the CDC (Center for Disease Control) it is:
Pregnant woman
Children 5 and under
People with chronic medical conditions
People older than 50 years old
Anyone living in a nursing home or long-term care facilities
People who care for those at high risk (healthcare workers, caregivers for elderly or very young)

What else can I do to prevent colds and flu?
Get adequate sleep: I have certain unnamed friends that claim exhaustion if they get less than 10-12 hours of sleep a night, I am really happy with the average person if they get 7-8 hours of sleep; because that will refresh your body and help to keep your immune system strong.  And, if you are sick, then try to get more like 10 hours of sleep, and relax as much as possible, your body is trying to tell you something, and you need to let it recharge.
Keep your hands off your face:  Try not to bite your fingernails, wipe your nose on your hands, touch your eyes, or anything of that nature; it can spread germs all over your face, and increase your risk of getting a cold or the flu.
Beware of others: Wash your hands (or use and antibacterial gel) after shaking hands, and clean others belongings before you use it yourself (like phones, clothes, etc)  You never know how well other people clean things, and even something as benign seeming as borrowing a pen, can end up in a cold later on!  Plus, if someone is sneezing or coughing (showing any sign of illness), I would keep away from a big bear hug and be a little more wary of spending time in an enclosed space with someone who seems under the weather.
Eat Fresh: Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet of fruits, veggies, proteins can support a strong immune system, and if you aren’t eating all that well, pop a multi-vitamin to keep your immune system working optimally, and try to prevent illness as best you can.
Get your sweat on: Working out regularly keeps your immune system strong, and your body working like a well oiled machine, not to mention that you look good and feel good too.  So, despite shorter days, and cooler weather, make time to exercise and get your body moving.
Quit smoking: Just another reason to ditch the butts, it creates changes in your respiratory tract, and decreases your immune system, leaving your lungs as prime target for viruses and bacteria to attack and cause illness.  Yuck! (Really, as if I needed yet another reason to get on my soap box about quitting smoking!!)

If you do get sick?
Keep it contained to yourself and try to sneeze or cough into your elbow area, as to prevent the spread to others. Use fresh tissues at all times; I mean I always thought it was a little creepy that my Nana would use a tissue, then shove it in the wristband of her sweater for later, but as an HCP, I now know how truly germ-y and gross that is, and you can actually reinfect yourself by using dirty or old tissues!  Drinks lots of water (and coconut water to replenish your electrolytes), and get plenty of rest and sleep. I know easier said than done, but don’t overstress yourself when you are ill….make some “me” time, for sure, and stay away from work!  And, if you start to get really high fevers, and the illness doesn’t start to get better after a couple of days, see your HCP to make sure that it isn’t something more serious.

There is always an excuse NOT to work out and eat healthy, but there is no reason to want to get sick. So be proactive about your health: live a healthy lifestyle, and you will be a healthier person.  You’ll thank me!

Yours in Good Health
B


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