When the ground is littered with brown leaves and you can hear holiday music playing everywhere you go, it's time to think about more than holiday shopping. In addition to the business and the chaos of gift buying and gift wrapping, home decoration and food preparation, you also need to think about something more fundamental: your health. Unfortunately, late fall and winter are also the peak seasons for catching colds and the flu. Read on for some ways to reduce your chances of catching either this holiday season.
Wash Your Hands
You already know that you need to lather up in order to kill germs, but are you doing it correctly? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends lathering up for 20 seconds and being sure to get all surfaces of your hands including under and around your fingernails. In addition, wash your hands more often than usual when you are out and about during holiday shopping season. Be sure to wash up before you eat or drink anything, and try to avoid touching counters, railings and door handles as much as you can.
You knew this was coming: If you haven't already gotten your flu shot, get yourself to a pharmacy, clinic or doctor's office and request the vaccine. Efficacy rates for the influenza vaccine vary from year to year, but some protection is better than none. Even if you're not in a group at high risk for developing serious complications, the flu shot can prevent you from passing along the bug to those who are. Those at high risk include the elderly, babies, people with cancer, those with asthma or other respiratory problems, and anyone with an impaired immune system. If you hate getting needles, ask about whether you're a candidate for the nasal vaccine, which entails a spritz in your nostrils.
Shop From Home
If you do end up getting sick, you can keep your germs to yourself and recuperate more quickly. It might seem impossible to get everything done when you're wearing pajamas and bunny slippers, but this is the Internet Age. You can buy just about anything online, from groceries to the perfect gift for your great-aunt Mabel.
Even if you aren't sick, you might be wise to skip the germs and the crowds and shop from the convenience of your own home, office or car (with the help of your smartphone).
Take Vitamin C, Zinc or "Grandma's Penicillin"
If you do get sick, there are certain measures you can take to ward off your illness more quickly. First, make sure you're getting the rest you need. Also, there is some evidence that taking high levels of vitamin C (1,000 mg per day) and zinc (10 mg daily) can reduce the duration of the common cold, getting you back to your shopping in less time. One caveat: Because vitamin C can cause gastrointestinal problems or even kidney stones, it's important to check with your doctor to see if this is a safe course of action for you.
If it's not, or if you would rather stick to more natural remedies, think back to your childhood. Did your grandmother used to give you garlicky chicken soup when you had a cold? This is sometimes called "Grandma's penicillin," and while real antibiotics don't work against a viral infection, the combination of garlic and hot bone broth actually can make you feel better! If you don't have a grandma available to make your soup and you don't have time to make your own, canned soup will work, too.
Keeping healthy during cold and flu season can seem like a complicated task, but if you remember to wash your hands, get vaccinated and take care of yourself if you do come down with the coughing, sore throat, headache and fever that can accompany these illnesses, you have a good chance of getting better in time for your celebrations. For more information and advice, check out websites like http://www.thefamilyhealthcntr.com.
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