As March approaches we have dreams of warmer weather, sunshine, and the faintest hint of greenery sprouting from our flower beds. However, this dream is usually sadly overcast with the true reality that winter has not yet left us. We still have to deal with the temperamental March that may give us 6 inches of snow one day and a sunny and 50 degree day the next. This reality reminds us that we still have one more month of cold and flu season. While the flu has not been terrible this year, other viruses have reared their nasty heads and reeked havoc on our immune systems. These viruses have caused widespread symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, increased sputum production, congestion, and headache. Unfortunately, it can be hard to completely eliminate the possibility of contracting these viruses, however, there are several steps we can take to prevent the spread or decrease the effects it has on our bodies.
- WASH YOUR HANDS. I cannot reiterate this enough. Any time that you have the opportunity to wash your hands – do it. I like to carry around a small bottle of germ-x with me and sanitize after I touch anything that has the potential to harbor microorganisms. This includes door handles, shaking someone’s hand, touching items that others have touched. Basically anytime I go out in public, I lather that germ-x on. It is also important to wash your hands thoroughly if you will be in contact with babies, the elderly or immunocompromised individuals. This is because these populations have a weakened immune system compared to the average population.
- STAY HYDRATED. And I don’t mean stock up on caffeinated or sugary drinks. DRINK WATER. Water helps our body function properly. It allows us to stay healthy, and gives us energy. There are several easy ways to make sure that we are staying hydrated. The first is to look at your urine. How often are you peeing? What color is it? When you are hydrated your urine should look light yellow to clear. When you are dehydrated your urine will have a more amber look to it. This tells you that you need to consume more water. You can also look at your veins. When you are hydrated, your veins will be more prominent and bulging. These are two great indicators to determine if you are getting enough fluids.
- EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES. To fight off sickness we need to have a healthy immune system. To do this, we need to fuel our body with the proper nutrition. This means getting adequate servings of fruits and vegetables. These foods are filled with antioxidants that will allow our bodies to perform at their optimal level. Grab a banana on your way to work, or add some fresh blueberries to your morning oatmeal. At dinner, try to replace your side dish with a hearty helping of vegetables. These small changes can make a big difference to our overall health.
Jackie Fornelli BSN, RN