Oct. 11, 2018

Sharing the Journey: Tips for Staying Healthy During Flu Season

The Sharing the Journey series is by people like you and for you. In their own words, we highlight the perspectives and personal experiences of people who struggle with lupus each day.

This month, we asked Sharing the Journey participants the following question:

What advice do you have on staying healthy during cold and flu season?

During the cold and flu season, it is important to take steps to prevent infections. First, I try to make sure that I am getting plenty of rest. It is also important to make sure that you are not eating or drinking after anyone else. This is a sure way to get sick, because people can be contagious before they ever know they are even sick. All of my friends know that I am constantly using hand sanitizer and trying to not get near people that are sick. One thing I have learned in college is that by living in my own room off campus, I get less sick. I am at less risk for continuously coming in contact with contagious illnesses. -Tiffany A.

When it gets around this beautiful fall weather, I have to take precautions for flu season that comes with it. I get a flu shot so I become immune to the flu as quickly as possible. If I get sick, it will take me a long time to get over it, so I try to be cautious as possible. I try to always use hand sanitizer in public, as well as disinfecting all the door knobs and spray it in the air. I tend to always be washing my hands after I am doing something or if I'm about to eat. With an autoimmune disease, we cannot fight off every illness that comes our way like others can, so it is good to be cautious and protect ourselves. – Kyra

To stay healthy during cold and flu season, I always get the flu shot, take vitamin supplements, use hand sanitizer religiously, and I am super conscious about my surroundings. For example, since I am in school, I have to use communal chairs/desks. I try to disinfect those kind of things. In addition, I try to keep my phone and laptop clean. Those are things that we don't really think about, but they both carry so many germs. I can hear a sneeze or a cough a mile away, so I am conscious about [people around me who are sick] and limit my exposure to the extent possible. – Kayla B.

I always get a flu shot and keep a keychain size bottle of hand sanitizer in the car and at work. I always sanitize after interaction with another person or [touching] surfaces, especially after using the gas pump. Wipe down surfaces weekly with disinfectant. And always get plenty of rest! If I feel a cold coming on, I take something early on before it progresses. – Amber

The main strategy I use to protect myself from catching a cold or the flu is washing (or at least sanitizing) my hands before I touch food. I keep hand sanitizer with me at all times - I have bottles in my car, my backpack, my rehearsal bag, and even my bathroom. Any time I want to grab a snack or start lunch, I make certain to sanitize before I touch my food. I also work really hard on not touching my eyes or my mouth. I realized that I mindlessly touch my face and chew on my hands or pencils much more than I think I do, especially when I am working on a specifically stressful task. If your hands never venture near your mouth or eyes, even if they do carry germs, the [germs] will never actually enter your body. I also try to take a lot of vitamin C at this time of year. – Becca

Staying healthy during flu season is so important for everyone. I always get my flu shot and try to eat healthy. The most important of all is to WASH your hands often when you’re out and about! – Roxi

I always get a flu shot. I know that might not be possible for everyone, but that's one thing I do to protect myself. I'm going to make sure to get lots of rest and hope that everyone around me does their part so that I can stay healthy. – Leslie

Staying Healthy during Cold and Flu Season

Fall marks the start of cold and flu season. If you have lupus, you’re more likely to develop infections. And it can be hard to avoid infections when just going to school, work, and social events exposes you to lots of germs.

Now is the time to develop a plan to stay healthy!

Here are steps that will help you take care of yourself during the cold months ahead:

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Try to avoid anyone who has a cold, flu, or other contagious illness.
  • Remember that there are germs on many surfaces -- in bathrooms, stores, and restaurants, and on shared office and school equipment.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and hot water.
  • Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer, and use it as needed.
  • Wear sunblock! Even in winter, ultraviolet (UV) light can come through the clouds.
  • Get the rest you need.
  • If you catch something contagious, stay home.

Read our quick guides on the flu shot, protecting yourself from infections, staying health during winter, and coping with Raynaud’s phenomenon.