It’s that time of year when everyone starts to get sick and passing around their cold and flu germs. Having a chronic illness means that your immune system is already compromised, which makes picking up other people’s winter illnesses harder to avoid. However, you don’t have to lock yourself away until spring, just heed some basic advice on how to keep those nasty germs at bay.
1. Get a flu shot: This is the most important and one of the easiest things you can do to avoid getting the flu. (Source: WebMD)
2. Limit your alcohol intake: Drinking alcohol interferes with your sleep, meaning you’ll sleep less and the sleep you get will be of a poorer quality. You are more likely to succumb to colds and flus if you’re tired. (Source: health.com)
3. Drink tea with lemon and honey: Ditch the milk and sugar and add honey and lemon to your cup of tea instead. The steam from the tea stimulates the tiny hair follicles up the nose to flush out germs. Honey (particularly manuka honey) is antibacterial and lemons are high in vitamin C and help thin mucus. (Source: health.com)
4. Sanitize your workspace: Keeping your workspace as clean as possible will help keep germs at bay. Use disinfectant to deep clean anything that people handle a lot: elevator buttons, chair armrests, microwaves, fridges, remote controls, photocopier machine buttons, door handles, shared computer keyboards, etc. (Source: health.com)
5. Use your own pens: Keep your own pens on you at all times, this way you won’t need to use shared pens at the bank, doctor’s office, or office reception. (Source: health.com)
6. Stop biting your nails: Unless you can guarantee that your nails are completely germ-free (which is unlikely no matter how often you wash your hands) then biting your nails is a sure-fire way for cold and flu germs to enter your body. (Source: prevention.com)
7. Wash your hands — a lot!: The more you wash your hands, the less likely they are to harbor cold and flu germs. Aside from washing your hands after going to the bathroom, or before eating, you should also wash them after touching anything that lots of other people have touched. Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer gel around with you if there are no washrooms. (Source: prevention.com)
8. Sweat more: Work out at the gym, go for a run, or simply take a sauna — anything that makes you sweat. Sweating helps the body release toxins. (Source: health.com)
9. Look out for symptoms: Because you have a chronic disease, getting the flu is much more serious than it is for the average person. Even a common cold or cough will affect you much worse than others. Be aware of early symptoms (sneezing, sore throat, aching muscles, headaches, slight fever) and act on them as soon as possible to minimize the effects. You can get more advice from your doctor. (Source: prevention.com)
10. Be as healthy as possible: Eat well, sleep well, avoid stress as much as possible and get plenty of exercise. Taking supplements such as vitamins C and D can help keep colds and flu at bay. The healthier you are in the first place, the less likely you are to catch winter colds and flu, or if you do catch them, you’ll be able to recover more quickly. (Source: prevention.com)
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