Cold and Flu Season Survival Kit

It’s that time of year again — cold and flu season! Just because we are also facing a worldwide pandemic doesn’t mean that we are immune from other diseases, and in fact, it can create the perfect storm for those who are immune-compromised like us CD patients.

Here are the best ways to protect your body from those pesky germs this season and keep your immune system firing on all cylinders:

Getting a flu shot with IBD

There is a lot of controversy about getting the annual flu shot, but for those who are immune-compromised, getting the yearly vaccination is critical. I, personally, used to skip on the flu shot every year and just roll the dice that I escaped the season unscathed, but once I started my first biologic, I started getting my flu shot every year since.

Other than a sore arm, I have not had any negative side effects, and it really pales in comparison to what could happen if I contact the flu.

Foods to keep the immune system strong

It is true that certain foods help keep our immune system strong, and I like to incorporate these as much as possible in my diet:

  • Ginger
  • Green tea
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chicken broth
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Berries

And, while incorporating more of those into your diet, be sure to cut back on alcoholic beverages and sugar as those can cause inflammation and lead to a weakened immune system and disease.

The importance of staying hydrated

Drink your liquids! Staying hydrated is a great way to keep your body, and metabolism burning efficiently which helps carry out basic bodily functions.

Staying hydrated also helps should you have nasal congestion or a scratchy throat, so pour yourself a glass of water or a hot cup of herbal tea and sip yourself to health.

Get outside for Vitamin D

If you live in a climate that gets cooler during the winter months, your Vitamin D levels are likely to dip during this time. Make sure to get outdoors as much as possible to get some sunlight which will naturally boost your Vitamin D levels and, in turn, boost your immune system.

Also, getting outside for a quick walk will improve your cardiovascular health, and exercise is another great way to keep your immune system up.

Wash hands and keep things clean

This goes without saying, but wash your hands. Keep hand sanitizer in your bag, glove compartment, and desk drawer. Use elbows to press elevator buttons and light switches. And, don't forget to launder your winter gloves or anything else you use to touch objects.

Also, keep your phone clean by wiping it down with some rubbing alcohol and make sure to wipe down high-traffic surfaces in your home (doorknobs, refrigerators, faucets, toilet handles, and light switches) with Clorox (or brand of your choice) wipes to keep germs at bay. 

I also wipe down my house keys with Clorox wipes since my hands can be dirty from running errands. You can never pose the risk of keeping things too clean, so be sure to stock up on your disinfectant wipes!

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