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Dealing with the Flu

Dana Yarn, RDLDDealing with the Flu

This flu season has reared an ugly head, flu shot or not, no one is safe!  Hospitals emergency rooms are turning away flu patients, urgent care clinics are standing room only, and doctors' offices are booked solid.  After almost a week of taking care of a sick husband who developed the flu on Christmas day I feel compelled to share some tips on how to keep the rest of the family healthy and flu free (fingers crossed).  I mentally coached body (and prayed) that I would not come down with the dreaded virus as I waited in the Urgent Care lobby with my husband among standing room only sick people sneezing, coughing and breathing near me.  Luckily my parents were here to watch my 3 little babies all under the age of 4 years old, so I would not have to subject them to a germ filled clinic! 

Get sleep.  Rest is important and during the holidays it can be hard to come by.  Skip television time and hit the sack early.  Sleep is the only time our body has to repair and rejuvenate.  Skipping sleep will only result in being worn down and the first opportunity given your body will develop a cold and/or the flu. 

Dress appropriately. The first time you get stuck in the rain on a cold day or without a jacket for more than a few minutes you can develop a cold if your immune system is worn down.  Layer up, wear a scarf, hat, jacket, boots, leggings, long johns, etc.  Especially those watching and/or participating in sports outdoors.  Women are typically better at bundling up then men, not sure why this is but I promise you guys you are not less of a man for wearing a hat and jacket.  BUT, we all know how less of a man you are when you get sick, my husband is worse than my 20 month old son!

Avoid alcohol if you feel even slightly under the weather. Alcohol can be like cold weather, if we drink when we are sick it can push us over the edge and into a full blown cold/flu.  Alcohol can also negatively interfere with sleep quality resulting in a compromised immune system.

Consume at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, along with extra vitamin C and a multi-vitamin.  A healthy eating plan is your first line of defense against any cold or flu.  If you have built up a strong immune system your body is less likely to get sick and it will suppress any germ or virus you have been exposed to.  I take at least 1 gram of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in the morning and at night during the cold and flu season. 

Wash your hands often and keep your hands away from your nose, eyes and mouth.  The virus needs a place of entry, by washing hands often and avoiding touching your face this reduces your risk for developing any virus dramatically.

Wash and change towels often.  Germs tend to thrive in moist places, by washing bathroom and kitchen towels often you are decreasing the risk exposing your immune system to additional germs.

Stock up on a breathing treatment prescription from your pediatrician.  (For parents who have babies who cannot take traditional flu prescriptions). It may be a wise investment to buy a nebulizer to have if your family gets sick often.  My pediatrician gave me a refill on breathing treatments solution and as a preventative measure I filled it. The first sign of a cough or runny nose with my little ones I start them on breathing treatments.  This keeps them from developing further complications from excessive congestion like an upper respiratory infection. 

Get on a preventative dose of anti-viral prescription for the flu if you are taking care of someone with the flu.  The urgent care physician gave all spouses, siblings, etc. prescriptions for anti-viral drugs as a preventative measure.  I was VERY grateful for that!

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