chronic illness, Health, life, MS

Tips for staying healthy in cold and flu season

The germs are a-coming!

As we approach colder weather and months spent mainly indoors, all the bacteria are getting ready to party, waiting for those unsuspecting souls who will help spread the news and invite those snot-making, cough-producing little buggers into your home and mine.

Having a chronic illness means that a simple cold can knock you out for weeks, if not months, instead of days. People may consider me a germaphobe now but having suffered from pseudo-exacerbations – not a real relapse but just as much fun – after getting the sniffles makes me wary of those invisible little suckers that are everywhere.

Before The End, my years working in the germ factory, aka an elementary school, honed my skills at preventing the spread of colds and viruses, beyond the obvious of washing your hands well, and frequently. So here are my top five tips for staying healthy and preventing the spread of colds and flu viruses this winter.

1) Don’t touch your face.

This may sound strange but if you start paying attention, you will notice how often you touch your nose or mouth. No matter how meticulous our own hygiene, other humans with filthy habits are everywhere, touching everything. Becoming aware of this will cut down on an enormous amount of germs that you let in without even thinking about it.

2) Change hand towels and dishcloths daily.

Excessive? I don’t think so, not when all the germs that come into the house are being wiped off hands and surfaces by those towels.

3) Don’t shake hands.

Yes, people sometimes react like I’ve offended them when I say “I’m sorry, I don’t shake hands in flu season.” That’s okay, I look at it as a public service announcement. Shaking hands is an outdated practice from a time when humans weren’t quite so crammed together. I don’t need to touch you to tell you that I’m pleased to meet you.

4) Use your sleeve or wear gloves when touching surfaces in public.

When opening doors, pushing elevator buttons, or using stair railings, wear gloves or use your sleeve. Sometimes it’s not possible to use your sleeve and you might feel strange wearing gloves inside, in which case don’t touch your face and wash your hands asap. Ultimately though, who cares really if someone thinks you’re a pretentious nut job if you wear gloves indoors – you won’t be snarfing into tissues and hacking up a lung. Seems like a better deal. Maybe we can start a new trend?

5) Wipe doorknobs and light switches weekly.

Starting in bedrooms and working your way through the public rooms, to the bathroom, the front hall and finally the front door(inside and out), give them all a good wipe every week. You don’t need to use the nasty chemical antibacterial crap either. A solution of 3/4 vinegar, 1/4 water, 20-25 drops of tea tree oil and 10-15 drops of lavender oil will do the trick nicely. There are some ‘green’ products that come in handy wipes and if that makes it easier, then go for it. I always use one to wipe down the shopping cart at the grocery store.

A few other things that help me through a potentially snotty season are:

* Oil Of Oregano – if I feel that I’m getting sick I put 5-10 drops under my tongue and wash it down with LOTS of water. It’s an acquired taste.

* Zinc – a tickle in my throat and I start downing the quick dissolve zinc tablets.

* Infrared sauna – if you haven’t tried one, I highly recommend it. I know lots of MSers can’t stand heat so it’s not an option for everyone. I only stay in for 15-20 minutes but it’s a very different, less oppressive heat than a traditional sauna and I can feel it zapping those nasty buggers while I’m in there.

I am not a health professional in any way but I have found these things have helped me avoid getting sick for the last two years. Of course, it could be that my immune system is on overdrive all the time and addicted to my myelin so other germs never have a chance. Not worth taking the chance.

One final public health announcement: If you do get sick, PLEASE STAY HOME! There is a misguided belief in our capitalistic society that it’s a badge of honour to show up at work even when you’re at death’s door. Or to send your kid to school when they’re dribbling booger snakes. Really you’re being an asshole.

Caveat: Single parents reliant on a single pay check are not assholes in this instance. This is where we need to reconnect as communities and help each other out as family, friends and neighbours. Everyone needs a support system.

Noooo! We need to get over this mentality.

I used to say to my students, there are lots of things we should share with each other, germs are not one of them.

Do you have any good tips to share for staying healthy? Let me know in the comments.

Stay healthy, my friends. Have a wonderful week!

❤️ Amanda