Avoiding Flu Season Like The Plague.

Avoiding Flu Season Like The Plague

It’s that not so lovely time of year again— flu season. It is probably the most dreaded time of year for anyone who suffers from chronic illness. Even more so when those illnesses involve the lungs, like COPD. People with COPD are even more susceptible to catching the flu than ordinarily healthy people and the flu can be extremely dangerous for people with COPD.

There are many ways to protect yourself from catching the flu and stay healthy. Here are some:

  1. Get your flu shot every single year. It will help protect you and help build up immunities in your body. It is also recommended that people with COPD also get the pneumonia vaccine. Both the flu and pneumonia vaccines won’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but it will protect you against many of the different strains.
  2. Wash your hands often. Proper hand hygiene will definitely help prevent the spread of the flu as well as other infections and viruses that can make us very sick. Be sure to use warm water and soap for about 20 seconds. It's a good idea to also keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer handy for when you aren't able to wash your hands.
  3. Avoid sick people. I understand that this is not always possible, but be sure to take extra precautions when necessary. Places like crowded events, especially those that are held indoors can come with an increased risk of being exposed to the flu and other illnesses.
  4. Stay on top of your medications and COPD plan. Know what steps to take when/if your COPD starts to act up. Keep regular appointments with your doctor and have that open line of communication.
  5. Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration which can also weaken the immune system.
  6. Get plenty of rest. Much like if you are dehydrated, lack of sleep can weaken the immune system. Don't overdo it during the day as well. Of course this isn't always possible, however taking breaks and resting often is essential for your health.
  7. Keep your hands from your face. Try to avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose as much as possible to prevent germs from entering your body, especially when you aren't at home.
  8. Carry disinfecting wipes with you. Use them on shopping cart handles, communal pens before you use them, and on any other surfaces that could harbor infectious germs. You might feel silly taking out a package of wipes to clean things in public but consider the alternative, potentially catching the flu which could be detrimental.
  9. Consider wearing a mask. If you must go out into a crowded place where there might be sick people, wear protection. There are masks out there that have little particle filters built in (such as a vogmask) that aren't as cumbersome and still allow breathing easily without resistance from the mask itself.

If you do come down with the flu, it is imperative that you seek medical attention right away as having COPD can make the simple cold or flu a nightmare. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all live in giant bubbles during cold & flu season? While that is neither realistic nor feasible, being prepared and taking precautions can vastly lessen the chances of becoming sick.

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