It’s no secret that infections pose a greater risk for people living with lupus. In fact, infections are the second most common major cause of illness and death for people with the disease. It is important to make your health a priority, and take steps to protect yourself.
5 Small Steps to Stay Healthy in Winter
Holiday card list drafted? Check. Small gifts purchased for the kids’ teachers? Check. Prevention plan to stay healthy this winter? Ch…wait, was that on my “to do” list? As you prepare for the holiday season and the cold winter months, be sure to consider what small steps you can take to try to prevent catching a cold or the flu. Here is a winter weather checklist aimed at staying healthy this season.
1. Get a flu shot. Flu shots are safe and do not in-crease lupus disease activity. This year, the H1N1 vaccine will be a part of the regular flu shot, so one shot will offer protection. People with lupus and those who live with a person with lupus should not use the FluMist® nasal spray because it contains a live form of the flu virus. For more about the dangers of H1N1, read one woman’s story online at lupus.org/H1N1.
2. Wash your hands frequently. Many people underestimate the time it takes to clean their hands properly. You should scrub your hands with warm running water and soap for 15–30 seconds. Sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice while washing. And don’t forget to scrub your wrists, fingernails, and the backs of your hands.
3. Don’t shake hands. Wouldn’t it be great if Americans did away with the disease-spreading handshake greeting? Perhaps we should bow, as they do in Japan, or simply raise our hand in a warm welcome. Until then, you can keep your hands full—at holiday parties, make sure you always have a glass in your hand. Or, a simple nod and “nice to meet you” will suffice.
4. Disinfect shared items at the office. Shared handles at work can help spread germs around the workplace. Keep sanitizing wipes at your desk to wipe down your telephone receiver, keyboard and mouse, doorknobs, and microwave handles. Avoid touching water fountain handles, faucets, and elevator buttons with your fingers. Instead, use your sleeve, glove, or a paper towel.
5. Wear sunblock in winter. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, both indoors and from the sun, can increase lupus activity. UV light can still come through the winter clouds. To help prevent your skin from drying out, start with a winter moisturizer that contains SPF of 15 or more. Apply your regular sunscreen generously and in addition to your regular skin care routine.
People with strong social relationships have fewer health problems, are happier, and have increased longevity, researchers found.