If you haven’t succumbed already, to a cold, the flu, bronchitis or anything of that nature this season, then good for you! However, please don’t take it for granted that you’re in the clear. The cold and flu season promises to present germs that are BAD and everyone really should take every possible precaution to prevent contracting any of it.
A few years back, during the same time of year, my husband, my two sons and I had not one, not two, but THREE types of illnesses – all at the same time. Bronchitis, Strep and the Flu took us down over the holiday season (thank goodness we got through Christmas before it hit us, but New Year’s Eve was a different story)!
I want to share some really good advice as someone who has been through it, and as someone who has worked in the medical field for the last 19+ years.
First and foremost, prevention is the best medicine. A few good tips for preventing getting sick are as follows:
- WASH YOUR HANDS!!!! This is one of the most effective ways of keeping nasty bacteria/viruses away! Also, keep one of those little hand sanitizers in your purse and car so when you leave a public place you can immediately sanitize your hands from touching such things as shopping carts, money, etc. that lots of other people have touched before you.
- Get enough sleep – I’m telling ya, I swear every holiday season I get sick because of the added tasks that come with preparing for the holidays. I know I don’t get as much sleep as I normally do during this time, and I know that I get sick when I don’t get enough sleep.
- Eat as healthy as you can – it goes without saying that the fuel you put in your body needs to nourish you, or you are going to be more vulnerable when germs pay a visit.
- Make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D and increase your Vitamin C – especially in the Winter months, unless you live in a warm climate and are out in the sun often, you are likely not getting enough Vitamin D. I, personally, use Airborne to beef up my Vitamin C intake during the Winter months. If anything, you may shorten the duration of an illness by doing this.
- Flu shots – in my mind, the jury is still out on getting a flu shot. I do get one each year, mostly because I am strongly encouraged to as someone who works in the health field. I also get flu shots for my kids. My husband, on the other hand, does not believe in getting a flu shot. There are multiple strains of the Flu, so obviously getting a flu shot won’t assure that you won’t come down with the Flu – case in point, my son who just tested positive for the Flu and had his Flu shot just a few months ago.
- Emotional health – keeping a positive attitude, doing everything you can to keep stress low, having a support system – all of these things are benefits to warding off illness.
- Exercise – everybody knows how good exercise is for your body. It’s good to know that strengthening and conditioning actually increase your immunity! See Pam’s post on getting started and staying motivated!
So, since I have experienced the nightmare of being quite sick, I would like to share with you the things that helped me and my family manage:
1. Seek medical attention – as soon as you feel something coming on, go see your doctor or go to an Urgent Care type facility! Don’t let your pride get in the way and assume that you can deal with it. One great reason to go early is that they now have a very easy way of testing you to see if you have the Flu. It’s a really skinny Q-tip thingie that they (carefully) stick up your nose, and within minutes you know whether you have the flu or not. If you’ve caught it early enough, then you can take Tamiflu – from Tamiflu.com: “In fact, Tamiflu has been clinically proven to help you get better 30% (1.3 days) faster when taken within 48 hours of first symptoms. So the sooner you start Tamiflu, the sooner you may start feeling better, faster.” Another reason to seek medical attention early is that if you are a candidate for antibiotics, you can get yourself started earlier rather than later, and feel better quicker!
2. Pain relievers – if you do have a fever, you can alternate taking Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen every 4 hours. Hopefully, your fever will not last too long though because taking these medicines around the clock can do a number on your stomach. Also, if you do have a fever for more than 2 days, consider calling your doctor – he/she may want to switch antibiotics or consider further testing (i.e. for pneumonia).
3. Cough medicine – if you’re coughing your lungs out, consider asking your doctor for a prescription cough medicine. I have always been leery of cough medicine because some of it is powerful stuff, but my last bout of bronchitis changed my mind on this. The cough medicine I took was effective, my cough was still there but not as severe, and it helped me to sleep better which is something you need so desperately when you’re sick. Please keep in mind that some cough medicines have side effects, and it’s best to only take it if absolutely necessary.
4. Rest – take advantage of any opportunity to rest. It’s habit to tell yourself that you should be doing something productive, but out of all of the bad things that come with being sick, take advantage of it being a great excuse to “check out” and rest.
5. Fluids – drink as much water, hot tea, and juice as possible while you’re sick. This will help keep secretions thinner, therefore making your congestion lighter. Hot tea also has an added benefit – it quiets a cough and feels so good on a sore throat! Add some honey and lemon to it, and you’ve also got some added health benefits! Chicken Noodle Soup is mostly liquid AND has been shown to have health benefits as well.
6. Mucinex – if you have any type of congestion, whether it’s in your nose and/or chest, consider taking Mucinex. It’s an expectorant and will help loosen up the congestion, which will in turn make you more comfortable and possibly prevent further infection. It’s over-the-counter, so very easy to find!
7. Accept TLC – I don’t know about you, but when I get really sick, I get anxious. Reach out to your loved ones for support whenever possible – even if it’s just sharing with your friends on Facebook! Getting lots of well wishes is therapeutic :).
I sincerely hope that you don’t catch any of these nasty illnesses, but if you do, I hope that some of this advice helps! PLEASE check with your physician before taking ANY new medicine to be sure that it’s safe for you to take (depending on any other conditions you may have and on any other medicines you may be taking already).
Here’s to a happy, healthy new year!!!