It’s The Busiest Time Of The Year . . . For Cold And Flu Too. (Ugh)

By Jessica Poole, Certified Athletic Trainer


Have you had one yet? A cold or flu?

Thanksgiving week hits and there’s lots to do for the Poole family. And I usually end up with no voice and a horrible cough.

So I load up on the cold meds and bulldoze through our personal “tour de Georgia.”

Why does it happen that way?

Stress.

I run hard from October to November, as it is party central at our house. Two littles’ birthdays a month apart and then the holidays are upon us and I get sick.

Can you relate?

So, how do we prevent colds and flu when we are super busy and life can’t stop?

Here are my tips I have shared with my athletes over the years. Hope they help you, too:

·         WASH YOUR HANDS--the #1 way to prevent colds, flu, pink eye, cooties, etc., is to wash your hands frequently. Sing the Happy Birthday song to yourself to make sure you’re washing long enough. under your nails and wash up to your wrists. Use warm water and soap and dry your hands. When water isn’t handy (hahaha) use a hand sanitizer. Keep in mind that hand washing is the most effective means of viral and bacterial infection control we have.

·         Exercise--physical activity lowers stress. It boosts mood, attitude and strengthens the immune system. Don’t skimp on exercise just because it’s cold outside.

·         Nutrition--nutrition is as important as exercise to prevent illness. If you are eating a low fat, reasonable diet, you tend to stay healthier. Foods such as winter fruits and vegetables (sweet potatoes, citrus, pomegranates, butternut squash, dark greens like turnips, collards, kale, Swiss chard) are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, zinc, calcium, etc., which all help boost immunity and repair the body. Load up your diet with fruits and vegetables.

·         Vitamin C supplements-- seek the advice of your physician and consider a vitamin C supplement. I am not a huge fan of citrus fruit. Due to this I know I lack vitamin C and folic acid. Therefore I take a supplement. It is key to have a daily intake of vitamin C to boost your immunity. It will not eliminate illnesses, but may decrease the severity of your cold. Slamming vitamin C tablets once the cold sets in will not work very well.

·         Decrease stress levels-- Do what you can to lessen the stress in your life. Stress will weaken the immune system due to the hormones it releases into your body.  So exercise, laugh, plan ahead for events, do whatever lessens your stress.

·         Avoid highly populated areas--not the most convenient advice, but it is true. The more people you are around, the more exposure you have to illness. So when you are out and about, employ the other methods of prevention: hand washing, hand sanitizer and avoiding the most crowded spaces.

·         Flu and other vaccine--Vaccines have been proven to lessen the severity of illnesses at least and at most entirely prevent them. Get your flu shot. I’d rather run a low fever and have a few aches for a few days than the full on flu. Been there, done that and it was not fun.

·         Laugh and laugh often-- a cheerful heart is the best medicine. Positivity and laughter go a long way mentally, physically and emotionally.

·         Chicken soup-- I can’t find much in way of evidence-based research about chicken soup, but in my opinion and through personal trial and error, I swear by homemade chicken soup. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, but chicken soup always makes me feel better

That’s it folks. Jess Poole’s advice on preventing those nasty colds and flu.

Employ these and I hope you miss whatever took my voice away..

Stay healthy my friends and Happy New Year!!


For Jessica’s previous posts about fitness, use the blog’s search box, above on the right, and type in Jessica Poole.  To learn more about Gwinnett Medical Center’s complete sports medicine program, including our Running Clinic, visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org.

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