Surviving cold and flu season
When the days grow shorter and the mercury drops, that means cold and flu season is just around the corner. Dealing with the ups and downs of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is hard enough, but when you throw common ailments like headaches, stress or cold and flu into the mix, you end up with a cocktail of nasty symptoms.
People living with IBD tend not to have the strongest immune systems to fight off the dreaded lurgy. Fatigue, stress, flare ups and poor nutrition from low nutrient absorption can mean that IBD sufferers are more susceptible to bugs that are doing the rounds at school, uni or the office. Some medications used in IBD treatment can also lower immune function, increasing vulnerability.
Also, given that stress and poor health can be triggers for IBD flares, getting a cold or bout of flu is the last thing you’d want if you suffer from Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. So this cold and flu season, take a few preventative measures to keep your health levels up as the temperature goes down.
Eat well and supercharge your immune system
Give your immune system a helping hand this cold and flu season by upping your intake of vitamins and minerals. This can be done by eating foods that are rich in essential vitamins (think fruits and vegetables, oily fish, nuts) or by taking vitamin and mineral supplements (though you should check this with your doctor first, especially if you’re on any medication). Vitamin C, Echinacea and Ginseng are all well known for their immune-boosting properties and many people swear by them to keep nasty bugs at bay.
According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the better your level of physical fitness, the less likely you are to get sick. The study revealed that regular physical activity not only reduces your risk of contracting a cold or upper respiratory tract infection, but also reduces the length and severity of cold symptoms in the event you do get sick. So to keep the coughing at bay and improve your overall health at the same time, it’s a great idea to jump on your bike or hit the track.
Practice good hygiene
Don’t play with sick people! If you see someone coughing and spluttering in the office, or your housemate seems to be incubating a germ army, duck for cover!
Obviously don’t be rude about it, but keep a distance and avoid getting in the line of fire when it comes to sneezes or coughing fits. If you shake hands with someone who appears to be unwell, sanitise those digits as soon as it’s socially acceptable to do so and don’t put them anywhere near your mouth or face. Wash your hands frequently and clean your home and work surfaces regularly (this includes things like keyboards, remotes and phones).
When you suffer from a chronic illness, it’s important to feel empowered to take control of your condition as much as possible and to make your health and wellbeing a priority. Taking a few proactive measures to avoid germ exposure and boost your immune system is a great strategy for meeting winter head on so you can spend more time ice-skating and less time sick in bed and potentially aggravating other health issues.