By Heather Lozier, RN
Director of Nursing
Southern Hills Nursing & Rehab

Holiday IllnessWith the holidays upon us there will be plenty of dinners and celebrations. These come with many greetings of handshakes, hugs and embraces. The exchange of love and friendship combined with the stress of the holiday rush can quickly spread cold and flu germs.

It is an exciting time of year but we need to be sure to take some extra precautions from spreading disease to our loved ones, especially for those who are 65 and older, pregnant or have chronic health conditions. Use these preventative tips to have a happy and healthy holiday season:

Get a flu shot: It is quick and easy to get the flu shot. Call your primary care physician or go to a local drug store about getting the vaccines. They now have nasal mists for those who might be nervous about a shot, and no the flu shot will not give you the flu!

Wash your hands often: Suds up with warm water and soap, scrub for at least 20 seconds to effectively kill bacteria and germs – approximately the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday or change it up with a holiday classic like Jingle Bells!

Use hand sanitizers with 60% alcohol: Washing your hands with soap and water is most effective but when out shopping and places where it is more convenient an alcohol-based sanitizer can reduce the number of germs on your hands. Small hand sanitizers make a great holiday gift as well!

Boost your vitamin C intake: Studies show that vitamin C has been found to help strengthen the immune system. At family gatherings, dinners and parties be sure to load your plate up with vitamin C rich foods, these flu fighters can be found in oranges, red peppers, strawberries, broccoli, brussel sprouts and tomatoes among others. You can also take vitamin C supplements. As always before taking any supplement you should ask your doctor to be sure it will not interfere with current medications.

Get some sleep: Additional ZZZs’s can help in preventing flu and colds. It is easy to get caught up in the holiday hoopla and forget to rest. Allow for dreams of sugar plum fairies.

Cover your cough and sneeze: when you do have to cough or sneeze, please cover your mouth with a tissue, if you do not have a tissue cough or sneeze into the upper sleeve of your arm. Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands.