This post is a response to questions about how to navigate cold and flu season with Rheumatoid Disease (RD).
Flu shots are now center stage at grocery stores and pharmacies across the US. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), flu season can begin as early as October. There’s plenty of advice about staying well in flu season, but not specifically targeted for those living with chronic illness or an immune-mediated disease. Doing yoga and taking Echinacea are helpful for some, but there’s no substitute for old-fashioned hygiene, and those of us with RD may need to kick it up a notch.
Obviously the most essential tip to avoid getting sick with cold or flu is washing hands thoroughly and frequently.
Here’s 25 more ways to avoid becoming a flu victim this year
Be as healthy as possible
1) Get plenty of rest, and whatever works for you to reduce stress.
2) Eat a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. It’s cliché, but still worthwhile.
3) Get fresh air every day, even if it’s a short walk or sitting on a porch swing.
4) Exercise as you are able.
Reduce your exposure to germs in public
5) Avoid shaking hands or close personal contact.
6) Use your personal pen at a cashier or doctor’s office.
7) Don’t place silverware on a table in restaurants; leave it placed on napkin or plate.
8) Don’t touch your face – I read we touch our faces 16 times per hour. As an added benefit, your makeup will stay on longer.
9) Don’t touch public doorknobs (use paper or your clothing).
10) Recognize common objects in offices, fitness centers, and stores likely harbor germs. Try to avoid touching with your fingers, or wash as soon as possible afterwards.
Combat germs at home
11) Disinfect areas commonly touched by others, especially moist places where germs lurk: sinks, toilet handles, and laundry room.
12) Use your own towel – not a shared towel. Or use paper towels.
13) Use your own toothpaste tube.
14) Clean & replace toothbrush frequently.
15) Disinfect common objects like phones, remote controls, light switches, and doorknobs.
Fight back against contact with bacteria and viruses
16) If you have to touch public items or go on an elevator or escalator, clean your hands as soon as possible afterwards.
17) Get vaccinated against this year’s viruses. (Vaccination is a personal choice – here’s my story.)
18) Keep anti-bacterial wipes in car & purse.
19) Use a public hand sanitizer pump if that’s all that’s available, touching the pump with a tissue or your arm instead of hand.
Might work: many claim these help colds and flu
20) Powder vitamin supplement (Emergen-C)
21) Zinc lozenges
NOTE: If you have an immune-mediated disease (such as RD), taking supplements like Echinacea that can boost immune function is controversial and may not be beneficial.
Safe use of over-the-counter flu medications
23) Keep a log of medication doses to avoid over-dosing.
24) Read medicine labels to avoid overlapping ingredients.
25) Check with your pharmacist about drug interactions with usual medications.
Do you have more tips to help others stay well in cold and flu season?
- Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Get a Flu Shot? 15 Facts on Vaccinations & Autoimmune Disease
- 5 Tricky Questions about Rheumatoid Arthritis / Disease
- 10 Commandments of Chronic Illness